Growing Food — Growing Community

will allen Sea Change Radio goes to the Northeast Organic Farm Association conference to talk with Will Allen of Growing Power, Abby Youngblood of Just Food, and Scott Kellogg, author of  Toolbox For Sustainable City Living.

A couple of weeks ago, Sea Change co-host Francesca Rheannon wrote an article titled Why Posterity Matters. In it, she lauded the efforts of PS 11 in Brooklyn, New York to educate its young students about the importance of good fresh food. The kids grow vegetables in the community garden next door. PS 11 serves a neighborhood that, while beginning to gentrify, is still predominantly poor, one where the problems of obesity and lack of access to affordable, healthy fresh food are rife — and related.

How to bring healthy, organic  food to low income communities was a recurrent theme at the recent conference of the Northeast Organic Farming Association, or NOFA.

Our first guest, Will Allen, was the keynote speaker. He says healthy food is at the forefront of community development; it’s a social justice issue to make sure all people have same access to good food.

Allen is a leader in the movement to bring affordable organic food to all communities, especially city dwellers who usually can’t afford it. But Growing Power, the national organization he founded and directs, is about much more than that: it’s about building community by building skills, education and enterprise in sustainable urban agriculture. Right now, its work is centered in Milwaukee and Chicago, and comprises greenhouses, aquaculture operations and intensive composting.

FOSCR (Friend of Sea Change Radio) Erik Hoffner of Grist.org and the Orion Grassroots Network also met with Will Allen at the NOFA conference. Check out that interview here at Grist.org.

Abby Youngblood coordinates a program called Fresh Food For All. It’s run out of Just Food, a nonprofit in NYC that works to establish a strong regional food system that’s socially just as well as environmentally sound. The program trains community gardeners all over the city, including in low income neighborhoods. It also connects urban residents with ex-urban farmers through farmers’ markets and CSA‘s.

Scott Kellogg is the co-founder of the Rhizome Collective of Austin, Tx, an education project promoting affordable sustainability. He’s now moved to Albany New York, where he’s replicating the collective as “Radix”. Kellogg is also author of the book, TOOLBOX FOR SUSTAINABLE CITY LIVING. He tells us about creative, affordable and low tech ways to grow food, recycle wastes and produce energy for ourselves in an urban environment.