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.
- In North Oakland, California, Phat Beets Produce is a volunteer-run organization focused on making communities healthy, stable, and vibrant through gardens and farmers markets. Phat Beets believes in supporting and financing small farmers, empowering youth through growing and selling food, and organizing their communities through garden projects. The organization began in 2007 as a "guerilla produce stand," and has expanded to include two certified farmers markets, a youth market garden, and a community nutrition hub. They also run a CSA program and host food justice events for their community.
- Rooted in Community is a national organization that helps young people to become community leaders organizing around issues of food security and social justice. They host indigenous and local food leadership forums, and put on a national conference where young leaders and older mentors can come together and learn from each other. Since 1998, over 75 organizations across the country have partnered in RIC's work.
- In New York City and Berlin, KitchenSurfing is providing a new way for chefs and eaters to share their passion for food. Foodies can hire chefs through the KitchenSurfing network to cater any event, from dinner party to date night. Chefs then collaborate with customers to create an affordable and delicious menu. KitchenSurfing handles the payments online, and also provides a forum for guests to write reviews of their chefs. Modeled after CouchSurfing and other social networking sites, KitchenSurfing provides an interesting and novel space to explore affordable private dining.
- CitySprout connects communities that are interested in eating locally with farmers in their area. Individuals can connect through the CitySprout network to others nearby who are interested in buying local. Then, farmers can make offers to your "community" when they have products available for sale. The more active and engaged your community is, the more likely a farmer will make an offer to sell you his or her goods. The site encourages communication between producers and consumers, and creates virtual and real-life communities around the values of eating locally. Check out their website to find communities near you.
- Earthworks is a Detroit-based organization grounded in Fransiscan values of healing communities and the earth. Earthworks is a project of the Capuchin soup kitchen, which provides food and community to those in need. They grow produce for local markets, food banks, and for several community gardens in the area. In the last ten years the organization has grown substantially, including the establishment of a 1,300-square-foot greenhouse to house their seedlings.
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.