203: Anna Swanson and Meghan Stratton on School and Community Gardens.
Helping kids and community members understand food origins.
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Meghan was a student at Binghamton University, and was drawn into the world of food and agriculture as a powerful way to address a range of current environmental, social, and ethical issues. After graduating with a self-designed degree focused on sustainable food systems, she moved to Glocester to join the FoodCore. As a two-term FoodCorps service member, Meghan has been involved in all aspects of the Backyard Growers’ school programs.
Anna graduated from the College of William and Mary with a BA in Africana Studies and a minor in Environmental Studies. Looking for a way to integrate her desire to work for social justice and her interest in environmental sustainability, Anna became Backyard Growers’ first FoodCorps service member in the fall of 2013. After her year of service, she moved back to her hometown of Philadelphia, where she taught farm, food, and nutrition classes on the farm and in Philadelphia schools.
In This Podcast: Greg chats with an inspiring couple of women from Backyard Growers. Anna and Meghan help explain the purpose of this community organization and how satisfying it is to watch kids and community members learn about growing food and cooking the food they grow.
Listen in and learn about:
- How Anna found her way to being the first FoodCorps service member to being the first staff member
- How Meghan got involved and started with the school programs
- What FoodCorps is and what they focus on in all the areas they are active
- What Backyard Growers is and how they got started
- How they work with schools
- Helping kids learn about where their food comes from
- The transition with kids eating vegetables once they start growing their own
- Some of the experiences they’ve had where kids are connecting to the food
- The satisfaction of seeing kids teaching other kids about gardening
- Being recognized by kids in town as the “Garden Lady from my school”
- Watching a boy encourage another boy to try a vegetable for the first time
- Some of the programs they are teaching in the schools
- Some of the programs they are presenting in their community
- Why they like to “Stay Funky!”
As well as:
- A failure – The time they realized that teaching how to grow the food was not enough and they needed to add cooking workshops to their lineup
- A success – Connecting to a reluctant student and then watching her blossom into a gardening teacher
- A drive – Community, and connecting to the community and making a difference
- Some advice – Gardens are easy, find your partners and learn from them. Think about purpose when planning or planting anything.
Anna and Meg’s Book recommendations:
Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America by Wenonah Hauter
The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball
How to reach Backyard Growers:
Facebook – Backyards Growers Program
Instagram – Backyard growers