Urban Initiatives teams from four South Side schools ended their 2010-2011 soccer season by making fun educational trips to community gardens and farmers’ markets in their communities. The kids had a blast learning about, tasting, and purchasing healthy foods that were both locally grown and affordable.
Many parents, grandparents, and siblings also came along for the fun. Parents who were LINK cardholders learned that LINK was not only accepted at most of the gardens and markets, but that the amount of their produce would be doubled up to $25. That means the LINK users could get up to $50 worth of fresh fruits and vegetables for half the price! As many of the schools that UI works with are in areas considered “food deserts”, UI believes these gardens and markets have great potential to positively impact our families’ lifestyles by providing access to nutritious, affordable food.
The youth also performed service activities during their visits to learn the value of giving back to their communities. They enjoyed watering tomato plants (getting wet), turning compost (getting dirty), and weeding garden beds (learning the art of patience), all of which helped to make the gardens more productive!
Read on to learn of each team’s experience and the amazing community organizations that UI partnered with. You can also view a short video that captures the kids’ experience!
Reavis Elementary visits Green Youth Farm
The urban farm, started by the Chicago Botanic Garden in 2009, is located at Dyett High School in Washington Park, just a five-minute walk from Reavis. Parents and youth learned that the farm stand sells fresh produce every Tuesday throughout the summer and fall and accepts LINK. They also had a chance to explore the farm by way of a service-oriented scavenger hunt and made delicious Spinach-Mango smoothies using spinach picked straight from the farm. The Reavis soccer team had such a fun time that they want to make a return trip to the farm this coming fall!
Click here for more on the Green Youth Farm.
Claremont Academy visits Wood Street Urban Farm
Located in Claremont Academy’s Englewood neighborhood, this farm is a project of Growing Home, a non-profit that provides job training through an organic agriculture business. The Claremont soccer team learned how to identify vegetable plants and herbs. They also made the delicious Spinach-Mango smoothies! As the team loaded back onto the bus, parents could be seen carrying fresh collard greens to use for dinner that night. Seneca Kern, Community Outreach Coordinator at the farm, expressed disbelief at how eagerly the kids devoured the fruits and veggies that were put out for snack!
Click here for more on the Wood Street Urban Farm.
This weekly market was started in response to the food desert issue in the Woodlawn community by Experimental Station, a nonprofit working to build independent cultural infrastructure on the South Side of Chicago. With the implementation of the state’s first Double Value Coupon Program, the market has seen LINK sales grow 1,000% from 2008 to 2010. The Attucks team received a warm welcome and tour of the market from Market Manager Dennis Ryan. The highlight of the trip was a free, youth-oriented cooking demo put on by Common Threads. Families purchased many items at the market, including rhubarb (for strawberry-rhubarb pie) and tomato plants!
Click here for more on the 61st Street Farmers’ Market.
Truck Farm is a mini-farm planted in the back of a biodiesel-fueled pickup truck. The farm-on-wheels is a traveling exhibit connecting kids in Chicago to food and health. During Truck Farm’s visit to Sherman, the kids tasted many different vegetables and herbs that grew in the truck bed and learned how they make soccer players healthy and strong! They also had fun making radish seed planters to take home and care for.
Click here for more on Truck Farm.
A big thank you to all the amazing community organizations who took the time to share their resources with our kids and families! Urban Initiatives looks forward to continuing to work with you and other like-minded organizations to find sustainable and creative solutions to the food desert issue.