Monday, November 29, 2010
Just a quick note to let you know what GreenLeaf is up to:
The GreenLeaf youth crew (now up to 16 awesome high school students) recently made a group consensus decision on our their top priorities for learning about food justice and taking action for food justice. These priorities will guide GreenLeaf's work in the coming year, and we're building curriculum for our after school and summer program around them:
1) About basic food justice by watching Food, Inc. and using other useful resources
2) About nutrition, healthy eating, and cooking
3) About obstacles people face in accessing healthy, fresh, food
4) About the food system and how to become better farmers
5) About other sustainable technologies
1) Hold events to inform others about food justice, sustainability, and GreenLeaf's work. Collaborate with other organizations like Seed to Seed to do this!
2) Teach others farming skills and about nutrition and food justice, especially other young people and kids
3) Help more low-income people get access to healthy fresh food and sustainable technologies
4) Expand the farm and GreenLeaf's organic veggie distribution
5) Make a music video on youtube all about food justice
We're also in the process of expanding to our second farm site in Denver: at 25th and Arapahoe. The Denver Housing Authority is developing about a third of a vacant block for GreenLeaf, Produce Denver, and Granata Farms to grow food and house our programming. This truly amazing opportunity is well under way - we hope to have the final structures (sheds, a bathroom, and a market stand) on site by December 13th! Just imagine what this vacant lot will look like as a beautiful, vibrant farm:
The new site will expand GreenLeaf's farming capacity to nearly 10,000 square feet under cultivation. We're excited for the challenge and all the fresh food we'll be growing for people in the neighborhood!
Our summer 2011 season will also include an exciting collaboration with the Seed to Seed program (via the GrowHaus). We’ll be bringing the youth from both programs together for collaborative learning, building a strong network of urban youth taking action for food justice in their communities.
Finally (for your moment of zen?) here's an article about a great city program in NE Portland, putting vacant land to use growing food!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
GreenLeaf is part of an exciting partnership called the Urban Farmers Collaborative with Produce Denver and Granata Farms. And Denver Housing Authority is developing part of a vacant block as an urban farm for the three organizations. The project is truly amazing. Here's a chance to help out:
Young Leaders Group Community Outreach
Join us to build the state's largest urban garden @ DHA's Sustainability Park (2501 Arapahoe Street, Denver, CO)
Join your fellow ULI Young Leaders on Thursday, October 21 for a great community outreach project – help plant perennials at Denver’s new Sustainability Park.
Denver Housing Authority (DHA) is using 2.4 acres it owns in the Curtis Park neighborhood to demonstrate today’s most cutting edge sustainability practices in an urban setting. The focus of Sustainability Park is on renewable energy, energy efficiency, local food production, water management, and developing quantifiable metrics for these new cutting edge sustainability products/practices.
DHA has offered ULI the opportunity to work alongside the Curtis Park community to transplant perennials from DHA's Westwood Homes rehab project. So bring your work clothes and get ready to get your hands dirty! 50 volunteers are needed - so bring a friend!
The event will kick off with a presentation where you will have the opportunity to learn about the work of the Denver Housing Authority (DHA), the Urban Farmers Collaborative and Colorado Renewable Energy Society.
After the community service project is complete, attendees will walk to GreenSpaces for a complimentary social where donations may be accepted to benefit GreenLeaf. If you register to participate in the community service project, you will automatically be registered for the reception.
Register online by Monday, October 18. The event is free to attend, but you must register. Please invite colleagues and anyone else you think may be interested.
Questions? Contact Judd Robertson (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Chris Spelke (email@example.com.)
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Opening Saturday, August 14th the farm stand will operate every Saturday morning from 9 - 11 a.m. at our farm, Mini Eden/Many Eatin', located at 38th and Williams St. in Denver.
You asked for it and we now have it. Our very own farm stand is NOW OPEN!! Come and check out what we hope will be on your dinner plates. Fresh, healthy, organic vegetables for you and your family. Unique prices and unique savings.
Ustedes lo pidieron y ahora lo tenemos. Nuestra propia verduleria ya esta abierta!! Vengan a ver lo que esperamos ven en sus platillos. Verduras frescas, saludables, y organicos para usted y su familia. Precios unicos y ahorros unicos.
Here's what the farm looks like, about to explode into full bloom:
Monday, July 19, 2010
GreenLeaf has also had time to discuss fascinating and inspiring ideas about the themes of the week. The theme for week five was hope, and the following quote by an anonymous source led to great thoughts: “Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept on working.” Amadou provided some excellent insight into this quote, by reflecting that, “As you work towards a goal, the closer you get to achieving that goal the more tired and discouraged you will get. But if you keep going you will achieve a great accomplishment.” Andrew added his thoughts, “When you lose hope, you become a shadow of your former self. That is why you must always keep hope.” This week we have been discussing health, how we define health, and how GreenLeaf can help make our communities and ourselves healthy. We are also tracking all of the food we eat this week by keeping a food journal.
Interns also had the opportunity to visit students in the Seed-to-Seed program, an organization run out of GrowHaus that works with youth to promote food justice awareness. They gave GreenLeaf a tour of the GrowHaus greenhouse, taught us about vermaculture, and showed us how to make seed bombs! We also invited Seed-to-Seed to come to Mini Eden to see how we transformed a vacant lot into a food-producing urban garden. GreenLeaf interns Andrew, Tomas and Jorge led the group in games, a tour of the farm, and great discussion about urban farming. It was a great experience, and GreenLeaf is grateful to have this great community connection with amazing youth and an awesome organization dedicated to food justice!
And after all of this hard work, it was time to play hard in the waters of Platt River! Jason led GreenLeaf on an outdoor adventure to go rafting in the shallow rapids of the Platt on Friday for an exciting break from farm work. As you can tell, we had a great time.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
We also had an opportunity to share new insights and stories in a special activity: a mini hunger banquet during snack time. GreenLeaf interns and staff became symbols of global food and income distribution, with most of the crew only receiving rice for snack, few receiving rice and nuts, and one lucky person receiving a deli sandwich and strawberries. Each group represented a slice of the world: rice eaters were low-income, rice and nuts eaters were middle-income, and the sandwich eater was high income. As the snack was passed out and the meaning of the different groups explained, students shared their experiences and knowledge of global and local hunger and need. It was incredible to hear the backgrounds and histories of GreenLeaf individuals and their families, many of whom have endured great struggles that include hunger. In sharing the group became stronger, as we now understand each other a little more than before. Many thanks to all the brave GreenLeaf interns and staff who took a risk and willingly participated in this experience.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Keeping the theme of the week in mind, we worked hard to keep our plants happy and thriving! Lots of weeding and watering happened at GreenLeaf this week as our plants continue to grow and sprout (we saw new cucumber and sunflower sprouts this week!). We scavenged for supplies including lots of wood to build compost receptacles for waste recycling and wash stations for future harvests. One of the most exciting developments this week was completing a design for the official GreenLeaf sign to be placed outside of Mini Eden! Although still a work in progress, the sign already looks beautiful and truly captures the philosophy and essence of GreenLeaf. Images of the sign to come!
GreenLeaf also had the privilege of accepting a $2,000 grant from the Chinook Fund! Three GreenLeaf interns and one volunteer attended the Chinook Spring 2010 Grantee Awards ceremony to accept the grant and speak about their experiences at GreenLeaf. Each spoke just a sentence or two, but made a big impact on the crowd! We are so grateful and proud to accept the grant, which will help the organization sustainable itself this year!
Finally, GreenLeaf had the pleasure of hiring three new enthusiastic interns for the summer program! Mohammad, Grace, and Tomas have joined the crew after volunteering for two full days on the farm and going through an application and interview process. We are so glad to have them aboard; they will certainly help shape and solidify GreenLeaf as a strong and flourishing organization. Congratulations, you three!
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Phew! We have just completed our first week of GreenLeaf’s summer internship, and it feels good to have made it this far! We spent the past week double-digging beds, shoveling compost, planting seeds and seedlings, and watering. The garden has gone from empty lot to a 15-bed farm all thanks to the hard work and dedication of GreenLeaf interns and staff. Tomatoes, peas, bush beans and basil seedlings have all gone into the ground, and a great variety of seeds have also been sown into Greenleaf earth. We should have a great harvest for our first year!
Besides all of the physical labor of love going on at Mini Eden, lots of great discussion, decision-making, and games have happened this past week. We discussed the week’s theme of courage every morning, and reflected upon how much courage it took to break ground on a brand-new farm and keep working throughout the hot and sometimes difficult workdays. GreenLeaf made some tough decisions about community goals, how to sell or give away future produce, and how to navigate a system for new applicants to the summer internship program. The group was also introduced to a new aspect of the program called Straight Talk, which allows every GreenLeaf member to receive and give constructive feedback about their participation at GreenLeaf. On a lighter note, some great team-building and get-to-know-you games helped us all become a stronger and more cohesive group. We passed hula-hoops, shared our “glums and glows” from the day, and compared our musical tastes with a new boom box. The week finished off with a much-deserved break: a trip to the park and swimming pool for some Frisbee and fun!
The week has been an incredible experience. I learn something new and interesting about GreenLeaf interns and staff every day, and it’s easy to see that every young person at GreenLeaf provides an essential contribution to the organization. We have worked together very well for a very successful first week, and I cannot wait to see the things we will accomplish together this summer.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Sorry about the *ahem* blog silence over the past month or so. GreenLeaf has been BUSY. So busy that we haven't been blogging about our business.
The biggest news is this: We have land! We'll be growing loads o' food at 38th and Williams in Denver's Cole neighborhood. The youth have decided to name the land Mini Eden/Many Eatin'. That's right, folks: we're punny at GreenLeaf!
Here it is, a "before" shot. Please note the ENORMOUS weeds. Lots of 'em!
And here's the land after a long day's hard work, clearing those nasty weeds, lots of trash, and compost.
It's a gorgeous spot and we've spent the past few weeks getting it ready to plant. We're almost there, but we need your help. We're doing a volunteer day this Saturday, June 5th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and would love to have you there with us. Can you make it for some plantin' and diggin'?
Monday, April 19, 2010
Which is why I was excited to see an article in the NY Times Education section that highlighted the wealth of information made available, without cost, by some of the finest thinkers and institutions we have in the US. In order for us to create sustainable infrastructure and healthy communities we must continue to find solutions to the problems which we face. We must increase our diversity of ideas in order to find solutions unique to our problems, we must continue to learn and we must have the hard conversations. As individuals and as a country we need to invest in our Knowledge Infrastructure.
At Greenleaf we are concerned with food systems and healthy communities. If you are too check out this course from YALE, offered on mp3 in 60 minute sessions completely free. The Psychology, Biology and Politics of Food.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
What has made Greenleaf special to me is the investment in students and the reciprocal output from each student. The conversations delve deeply into food systems, farming techniques, cash crops and ancient seeds. Each student challenging the beliefs they brought with them our first day, in turn, altering their vision of what they hope our urban farm will look like. These visions include selling vegetables to local markets and growing foods we may have never eaten before, but they also include art and poetry.
Today Greenleaf student intern, Markesha Dews, penned and shared a poem formed through her unique experiences and inspired by the work she plans to participate in through Greenleaf.
LOVING THE EARTH
DIRT IS THE SYSTEM
THAT WE USE,ENRICHING THE
EARTH WITH WHAT WE DO
GROWING AND SPREADING
LOVE ALONG THE WAY GIVING
LIGHT TO THOSE WHO NEED
A BRIGHTER DAY
IN HOPES THAT WE
BETTER THIS EARTH
BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT
MOTHER NATURE IS WORTH !
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
All people are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be." --Martin Luther King, Jr.
An undeniably powerful quote which the Denver Venture School students digested with ease. I am continually impressed with the insight of these students and the new and wonderful ideas that they bring to the table. There is nothing more exciting then seeing the youth of today and the leaders of tomorrow exceed my wildest expectations. -- Back to the quote.
The students unpacked the quote and quickly related it to the food system. One student related our indirect impacts on each other to that of the predator - prey relationship seen within nature; how removing an animal or plant can wreak havoc on an ecosystem and the need to find a new homeostatic balance. Another student followed up by talking about how the the potential perils of the monoculture/industrial agriculture system (albeit unknowingly) have a magnified impact on our population because the scale is so big. I believe the recent Salmonella and E. Coli outbreaks and Irish Potato famine were mentioned. More discussion followed.
In the end we decided that we all need to work to fulfill our full potential while having a positive impact on the earth as students, neighbors and businesses. For some that might mean working harder in class and for others that may mean working to change farming practices so that our necessity to feed the worlds population does not have a negative impact on laborers, our land and our health.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
The findings are not surprising - "Gallup and Healthways measure healthy behaviors in the United States by combining four metrics measuring Americans' eating, exercise, and smoking habits into the Healthy Behaviors Index. ...all of the 10 most obese metro areas fall within the bottom two-thirds of all areas surveyed for frequent exercise. In terms of eating habits, of the 10 most obese places, seven are in the bottom two-thirds among all metro areas for reporting eating healthy "yesterday" and for fruit and vegetable consumption."
However they are kind enough to unpack the data, if only slightly, for us. "Eight of the 10 most obese areas rank in the bottom two-thirds of all places measured in terms of easy access to fruits and vegetables and nine rank in the bottom two-thirds for having a safe place to exercise. Seven of the 10 most obese metro areas are among the bottom 25 places where residents say that there have been times in the past 12 months when they did not have enough money to buy food for themselves or their family."
The article leads to the logical conclusion that obese people (each of these 10 cities has obesity rates greater than 33%) do not eat the prescribed (USDA) amount of fruits and vegetables, do not make healthy eating choices, and they are excercising at far lower rates than the average American. However, according to the survey, they have less access to healthy food, a real or percieved inability to access safe places for excercise, and often lack the money to purchase healthy food on a regular basis.
Hard to access healthy foods + Lack of money to purchase food for basic nutrition + Lack of access to safe excercise locations = Less excercise + Poor Nutrition = OBESITY
I can say with confidence that these problems are not unique to our ten most obese metropolian areas, rather, these figures could be found by surveying many of the low income neighborhoods within healthier cities. Obesity and lack of access to healthy foods have huge costs and will need many solutions. I'm excited to work with GREENLEAF students at the Denver Venture School to discuss these issues, the impacts in their communities and to brainstorm, advocate, and participate with students to create solutions. It is time to tap our youths knowledge and insight as we move forward in addressing these problems.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Looks like DIRT the movie is coming to DENVER!! On Sunday, March 7th at 3 and 6:30 p.m. at the Bug Theatre. Tix are $10 and the fund$ go to support the awesome work at the Growhaus in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood in Denver.
...aaaaand I'll be talkin' about GreenLeaf on the panel after the 6:30 p.m. showing, hopefully with a GreenLeaf intern. Come out and support the Growhaus, watch this fabulous film, and hear about GreenLeaf in action. Good times for all ages.
See you there?
Thursday, February 4, 2010
This film "takes you inside the wonders of the soil. It tells the story of Earth's most valuable and underappreciated source of fertility--from its miraculous beginning to its crippling degradation."
I can't wait to see it!
Thursday, January 28, 2010
But to make sure there are enough veggies to go around please hold off on participating on GreenLeaf's behalf. DUG has very generously offered to donate any seeds and seedlings left over from the program to us. And of course, we are always happy to accept monetary donations, or donations of seeds, seedlings, or tools of your own. Please contact me at GreenLeafDenver@gmail.com if you would like to make a donation.
Thank you all so much!
Even as it's snowing and frigid outside, spring is in the air and on my mind. "Why!?" you may ask?
Because Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) is giving away free seeds and seedlings! As you may know, I've been working for the past year to start an organization called GreenLeaf, to grow healthy food on urban land with Denver youth. We will be planting our first farm this summer, with the assistance of talented youth interns from Denver Venture School. So, we're looking for all the free seeds and seedlings we can get!
I'm writing with a last minute request for you, if you live in the Denver area: Check out DUG's free seeds and seedlings program, and sign up. Get as many seeds and seedlings as you need for your garden this summer, and donate the rest to GreenLeaf!
But you'll need to act fast---the deadline is Monday, February 1st! You can sign up at your local rec center, or call DUG at 303-292-9900 to find the location nearest to you. It's easy: all you have to do is list your name and address, and pick what you want to grow! We're looking for any veggies and herbs, especially tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, broccoli, cabbage, and squashes.
Will you visit your local rec center to sign up for free seedlings for your garden and for GreenLeaf? Email me and let me know!
It's free for you, and free for us, and think of all the delicious food we'll grow!
Monday, January 11, 2010
- Attend and participate in weekly meetings, including some Saturday workshops.
- Participate in developing GreenLeaf as a new non-profit organization.
- Plan GreenLeaf's farming season for 2010 including crop planning and marketing.
- Develop GreenLeaf's 2010 summer program including curriculum, games, and activities.
- Interns will earn a $tipend for full participation. There is also a chance that interns may transition to paid employment with GreenLeaf for summer 2010 or after.
The Denver Venture School (DVS) is a new, innovative charter school engaging students in a project-based curriculum focusing on entrepreneurship and business. GreenLeaf's Spring 2010 internship program is open ONLY to DVS students: since we are a startup, we are particularly excited to have the opportunity to engage the talent, knowledge, and skills of DVS students to build our organization collaboratively.
DVS students will have a unique and powerful influence on how GreenLeaf starts and develops, with real responsibility and decision-making power. Students can get involved in GreenLeaf from the beginning and will have significant influence on how we do what we do.
We are encouraging students to apply if they:
- Like to garden or do work outside
- Are interested in starting and developing an organization
- Want a fun and challenging intern experience
- Can commit to participating fully and doing their best
- Are interested in food, social justice, or sustainability
We’ll be spending some time inside but more and more time outside as the weather gets warmer. Together we will try new things, learn new things and do some hard things: it’s guaranteed to be an adventure. We will play a lot of games and everything we do will be participatory and hands-on.
Students who are interested in applying should know:
- This is a job: we will be colleagues
- You will have real responsibilities and support to fulfill them
- We value and expect collaboration, communication, and accountability
These are the major learning goals we will achieve as part of the internship:
· Nonprofit basics
o What is a nonprofit organization?
o Why is GreenLeaf a nonprofit, and how does it operate?
o What are the different roles within a nonprofit?
· The Business of Farming
o The Food System
o Farm Planning
§ Crop Planning
§ Seed starting and planting
· Planning for GreenLeaf's Summer Program 2010
These are the foundational ideas that GreenLeaf and the internship program are based on:
o Positioning young people to assume leadership in the organization and expand their understanding of quality of life issues affecting them, through:
§ Supporting and challenging youth to do their best and be their best selves
§ Sharing ownership of the learning process with youth
§ Creating a safe and engaging group environment to foster collaboration, exploration, risk-taking, problem solving, and self-management
§ Giving students real responsibilities that impact individual and group achievement
o Situating learning in its natural context. We recognize that learning occurs "at the intersection of community, shared practice, identity, and meaning."
o Enabling youth to act in intentional and strategic ways to ensure current and ongoing quality of life for themselves and their community
o Creating and nurturing vital community networking and partnerships that support the organization and its participants in the long term
o Intentionally building in a process for ongoing planning and evaluation
Thanks to The Food Project for the lovely picture!
 Morrell, E. (2005). Becoming Critical Researchers: Literacy and empowerment for urban youth. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.