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Oxford Hills youths are 'Rooted In Community'
LOCAL FOODS MOVEMENT — Three local youths and the Alan Day Community Garden Coordinator recently participated in a conference in Philadelphia called Rooted in Community, where they learned about community gardens and food security. From left are Eva Gabrielson, Brandon Nobles, Ian Allen and Coordinator Rocky Crockett.
NORWAY — Early in the morning of July 27, Eva Gabrielson scooped a handful of dirt from the Alan Day Community Garden (ADCG) into a plastic bag, stowed it in her luggage, and got ready for her flight. Gabrielson was joined by Brandon Nobles, Ian Allen and Rocky Crockett, the Garden Coordinator, as they gathered brochures and posters to represent the ADCG. Later that afternoon, the four touched down in Philadelphia, PA, to begin the opening ceremony of a five-day conference called Rooted in Community (RIC), where the soil from the ADCG was combined with soil from gardens across the nation as a sign of solidarity.
The ADCG sponsored these three local youths to attend the leadership conference about food justice so that they could return to the community with a better understanding of the world food system. Food justice means the right for everyone to have access to adequate and healthy food, regardless of social or economic class, race or any other disparities that create social injustice.
On July 30 at 2 p.m., Gabrielson, Nobles, and Allen were joined by over 100 youth leaders from around the nation and from 30 different food justice-focused organizations. The group convened at Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center to declare, “The Youth Food Bill Of Rights,” a statement of what youth demand of their food system. While gaining the attention of congress people, public officials and community members, this youth-created document will influence the movement for a healthier and more equitable national food system and Farm Bill in 2012. It was created during the youth-powered RIC National Conference (July 27-31) hosted at the University of Pennsylvania.
RIC is a national network that empowers young people to take leadership in their own communities (www.rootedincommunity.org). It is a diverse movement of youth and adults working together to foster healthy communities and food justice through urban and rural agriculture, community gardening, food sovereignty and related environmental justice work. Youth participating in this year’s RIC Conference were fully engaged in the food justice movement and created the Youth Food Bill of Rights (www.youthfoodbillofrights.com).
Rather than accepting the food system that they have been born into, national RIC youth are creating revolutionary solutions and growing healthier communities.
“I want to inform my community about what is going on in these large food companies...we don’t know where our food is coming from, and how it’s processed,” said Ian Allen after returning from the RIC conference. He added, “In our community we have food injustices in terms of financial issues. There are more problems in lower income families because the food they can afford is over-processed and unhealthy.”
Brandon Nobles has also had an eye-opening experience since getting involved with the ADCG, and at the RIC conference. “It has been amazing to get involved in our community garden...I have met a lot of amazing people and it was just because I got involved. In our community I would like to see better awareness of what we are eating. I would like to inform people about the health consequences of what they are eating, like disease, diabetes and obesity.”
Crockett also had positive remarks about the RIC conference. “Eva, Brandon and Ian represented the ADCG to other communities across the nation, and learned a lot about other community gardens and about food justice. Access to healthy food is an issue for everyone, and even more so in poor communities. I hope our youth will bring the message back home, and help expand the ADCG as a resource in our community.”
This year marks a pivotal year for RIC as the upcoming year (2012) marks the possible renewal of the Farm Bill in its fifth year of enactment. The Farm Bill is the primary food policy tool of the Federal government. RIC youth have joined together in consensus to demand a farm bill that prioritizes health and their country’s next generation.
The Alan Day Community Garden offers a unique service in the community, as an educational demonstration garden for beginner and experienced gardeners, and for all ages. The garden is a place that directly addresses issues of food justice, by facilitating low-cost garden access for families to grow their own food. The ADCG offers educational workshops, a gardeners' hotline, use of tools on-site, community gatherings and plenty of opportunities to meet new people. Teens are encouraged to become involved and supported in taking leadership roles at the garden. Please e-mail email@example.com for more information or to subscribe to the ADCG newsletter.