Posted on Thu, December 31, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
1 Comments | Categories: Farms and Farming, School Food, Take Action, Youth Food Movement, Uncategorized,
by Sam Levin, one of three coordinators of Project Sprout. Project Sprout is a student led and inspired onsite garden that supplements food served in the Monument Mountain High School (in Great Barrington, MA).
Exactly 365 days ago I sat down at this same computer and wrote a New Years Resolution piece for the Slow Food Blog. I said that my resolution was to inspire six other schools to start organic, student-led gardens. But do you ever tell yourself youre going to do something, say, run 5 miles, but its really not until you stagger back into your house panting and dripping with sweat that you actually believe yourself? I guess I forgot how much can happen in the 8,760 hours that make up a year, because I did not really believe that my resolution would come to fruition.
However, one month after I first made that resolution we traveled to Marthas Vineyard to speak at the schools there. My friend Luke had put together a video about our project, and we presented it to the public high school and the charter school. Within days after we spoke at the high school, a Facebook group of 90 kids had formed to start a garden. I wasnt able to make it to the groundbreaking at the charter school that happened a few months later, but apparently the kids were ecstatic.
I think it was May when we presented to the school just south of us, and it was June when they planted their first crops. It took only one week for the kids at a farm school in New York State to tell their headmaster that they wanted their own garden, that was theirs to run. Unfortunately the students to the North of us have to wait until this Spring to start their garden, but they already have gotten their composting program up and running, so theyll be ready. Our presentation at another county school is planned for the end of January, and we are hoping to head back to Long Island to speak at a public school where our younger sister garden is already in place. We purchased a well for our older sister garden in Samecouta Senegal, and shoes for the project in Uganda. And fortunately, lots of kids are getting started without us. Anna Rose started her student run garden at her high school in Georgia, and the ground was tilled at a school in Belmont last March. Some students have taken an even more daring approach. One 17 year old girl in Bridgehampton, New York decided to live in a completely self sustaining way. She went off the grid for a month, and is thinking about taking a whole group of people off the grid next year, so that they can all experience growing their own food and being completely in the hands of nature.
My resolution was to inspire six other schools to start gardens like the one at my school, and Im happy to say that four other schools have done it with three more on the way, and we have two more prospects. But I realized that I didnt have much to do with it. It only happened because students at each of those schools, and the multiple other schools we didnt visit, set their own resolutions, and followed through.
I mentioned in my piece last year, that each of us should think about what we wanted to be able to look back on, on the brink of 2010. Well, here we are, on the brink of a new year. Im looking back on all of the hours in 2009 that made it such an amazing period of time. Im looking back at 6:30am to 7:30am every Tuesday and Thursday when a group of students harvested for the cafeterias, and at 11am to 12:30pm three days a week when the cafeteria staff at the three schools in my district served student grown organic lunches. Im looking back at the 30 minutes that it took a three year old to give his mother a tour of the 12,000 sq. ft. gardening plot, and the five seconds it took him to call it his garden because he truly felt ownership and responsibility. So, take a moment to look back on the hours of your year, and on Slow Foods year, and all of the amazing moments that have occurred. My brothers will be looking back on taking butchering classes and building a chicken coop. My friend Lukey will be looking back on the day he didnt go to McDonalds even though he really wanted to. For all of us it means looking back at the Eat-ins on Labor Day, the first farmers market, and of course, to the garden in Washington.
And now, here comes the hard part. Take a look at all the things you didnt do in 2009 that you probably should have. I have a lot of those things. Sometimes, thinking about this can feel like a downer. But for me, its exhilarating. Because remember, were about to have a whole new year. We have 365 new opportunities to change something old or create something new, and to do all the things we should have done last year. In an hour, you can plow up a plot for a student run farm at a school, cook a local chicken for your friends, or teach a group of kids how to plant fruit trees. There are 8,760 hours coming our way. So take your pick.
[photo courtesy of gjeewaytee (On and off), flickr creative commons]