Learn gardening skills and energize the local food movement by growing fresh vegetables to donate to a local food shelf. Thanks to students from Hopkins High School for this action plan!

Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon

WHY GARDEN?

  • Climate — Getting food on your plate in the conventional way pumps a lot of carbon into the atmosphere. Gardening helps us have a climate-healthy diet: more veggies and less factory-made food; more potatoes in the winter and watermelon in summer.
  • Health — The fruit and veggies we eat in the U.S. travel an average of 1,518 miles in semi-trucks. All that diesel trucking pumps dirty particles into the air we breathe. Local food, not so much.
  • Justice — Everyone deserves access to fresh, healthy food choices. Take it from the youth who wrote the Youth Food Bill of Rights.

PROJECT STEPS

  1. Plan it out:
    • Engage the community: For some projects, students conducted a community survey in multiple languages to get feedback on what vegetables families want. They also found neighbors who were farming experts to help mentor them in skills. Check out this story in Teaching Tolerance magazine.
    • Grow and Give: The project was supported by the Grow and Give program, which encourages people to donate their locally grown garden crops to food shelves.
    • Food Shelf: The team located an Intercongregation Communities Association food shelf willing to accept their vegetable donations.
    • Garden Plots: The group located two garden plots to buy in a community garden.
    • Plants: To access plants, the club found a local greenhouse that was willing to donate plants to the project.
    • Tools: Group members pooled members’ gardening tools to use for the project.
  2. Planting Day: After the team turned the soil and mixed in compost, the group organized a Planting Day where volunteers helped group members plant the garden. Group members then fenced in both garden plots to protect the plants.
  3. Managing the Garden: To maintain the garden through the summer, each group member was assigned a week during which they managed the watering, weeding, and harvesting of the garden. Vegetables will be brought to the Intercongregation Communities Association food shelf as they are harvested.
  4. Encouraging Behavior Change: Team members and other volunteers gained a better sense of the connection between food and their environment—something that is often missing for students in a more urban setting. This encouraged participants to think deeply about the sources of their food and to consider more local options. Bringing the Grow and Give program into the community garden also raised awareness of the program, inspiring others to donate garden crops to the food shelf.
  5. Connect the dots: Now that you have a community of people who care about fresh local food, talk about the bigger picture. In Minnesota, 19% of our carbon emissions come from agriculture. We need to put an end to farm practices that don’t work for our planet and help instill practices that bolster sustainable farming. Some ways to help are:
  6. Celebrate: Make a public announcement of thanks, sharing how much food you grew.
  7. Evaluate: Reflect with your team about what went well.
  8. Publicize: Take photos throughout your project! Contact yeamn@climategen.org to tell us how it went. We’d love to feature your story on our website.