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.

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  • Based in Boulder, Colorado, Growing Gardens builds communities and betters people's lives through urban agriculture. Their various programs provide learning and service opportunities for children of all ages, seniors, and people with disabilities. The Cultiva! Youth Project pays 12 to 19-year olds to work on a 2-acre farm and sell their wares at farmers markets. Through field trips, classroom visits, and after-school clubs, Growing Gardens engages students in education through garden work.
  • Cultivating Community works with recent immigrants in and around Portland, Maine. They provide garden and farmland access to a population that would be otherwise unable to afford growing land. They also provide farmer training to new immigrants and refugees, as well as youth education programs. Their five farmstands accept WIC and SNAP benefits, and their CSA program has a subsidized option for low-income community members.
  • FoodWhat?! is a youth empowerment program based out of Santa Cruz, California. Their spring internships and summer jobs employ nearly 100 young adults each year. These participants learn leadership skills, receive extensive empowerment training, and get their hands dirty on the FoodWhat?! farm. They come out of the program with a healthier outlook on eating and the environment.
  • Since 2005, The Big Garden project has built a network of over 70 community gardens in Nebraska and Kansas. Their gardens are in both urban and rural areas and are located at community centers, churches, and schools. The organization partners with new gardens to help them raise funds and begin production. The Big Garden has received recognition for their work towards sustainability and community development.
  • Community to Community is a food justice organization led by women of color that focuses on empowerment of under-represented populations. Their programs and projects originate in minority communities and focus on food access and food sovereignty. C2C has written a number of white papers on issues of farm labor and racial profiling. They are always seeking new volunteers in the Bellingham, WA area.

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.

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