Editor's note: In "Food for Change," we'll profile groups out there connecting people to better food access. In this series we want to applaud the passionate people and organizations doing meaningful work with food in their communities. Please share tips for others to include in this column in the comments below.
- Based in Red Hook, Brooklyn, Added Value's mission is to engage local youth in revitalizing and greening their neighborhood. Through educational programming and volunteer days, the group has engaged hundreds of 14 to 19-year-olds in the area. Since its founding in 2000, Added Value has transformed several vacant lots into urban farms, which they use as sites for hands-on farm learning. The farms provide food for the community and a safe space for youth to explore, learn, and grow.
- The Waltham Fields Community Farm in Waltham, Massachusetts has a mission of delivering fresh produce at a manageable cost to the surrounding community. Much of the produce from the farm is delivered to local food pantries, and their 500-person CSA has subsidized shares available for community members who can't afford the full cost. WFCF works with local schools to highlight a different vegetable each month, and to encourage food-related education at a young age. The farm also includes farmland preservation as a central tenet of its mission.
- The American Community Gardening Association was founded in 1979 to serve as a community-building resource for garden organizations across the country. Its goal is to share resources and support related to community greening projects, state and regional gardening networks, and growing methods. Based out of Columbus, Ohio, the expansive organization provides training for current or aspiring gardeners, as well as education on how to engage local communities in developing a community farm or garden.
- In Missoula, Montana, the Community Food and Agriculture Coalition is taking a multi-faceted approach to improving and strengthening the Montana food system. Among the group's efforts are increasing markets for local food, developing farmland and ranchland conservation strategies, and helping beginning farmers find affordable land in the area. Through petitions and policy, the group is working with local community members and government to achieve their goals.
- Food Roots, based out of Tillamook, Oregon, uses community garden education and other programming to educate about the importance and value of fresh produce. The group maintains 12 community and school gardens throughout the area, and during the summer conducts educational activities for local youth on those sites. Food Roots also provides after-school and child care programs that allow very young children to interact with and grow their own vegetables. Much of the food produced on the group's land is donated to local food pantries.
About the Author: A student in Providence, Rhode Island, Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her work has also been featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine.