260: Amanda Jordan Starks on Vacant Land into Urban Gardens.

Nourishing a community and its youth through transformative garden programs on vacant properties.

   Amanda is third generation Californian, raised in a small coastal town near the Oregon border. She went to the University of California, San Diego to pursue a degree in International Studies-Political Science, and obtained her Master’s degree in Social Justice.  

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Amanda currently works with UrbanLife Ministries, and directs its youth outreach and community development activities.  Her love for growing food and serving youth came together when she began directing the UrbanLife Farms program which uses vacant land to grow local, healthy produce and provide job skills training to teenagers. Her favorite veggies are radishes and artichokes!

In This Podcast:

Vacant lands can become whatever you see in them, and for Amanda Jordan Starks she sees potential. Potential for her community, and especially the youth that can grow and blossom by working the land and growing the food that nourishes the people that make up the community.  She tells us more about the programs that are working to make this happen in her area.

Listen in and learn about:

  • Growing up with her father as a groundskeeper and taking steps to avoid pesticides
  • Pursuing her degree with her capstone in social justice focusing on pesticides and farm workers
  • Following the path to Urban Life Ministries
  • Poinsettias and her mom’s story
  • Urban Life Ministries and their connection to the community
  • Helping young people in the area get job skills and training
  • How the youth in the program are flourishing and bringing skills and information home
  • Urban Life Tables – the initiative that helps college-age students food industry opportunities and training
  • Partnering with the San Diego YMCA to connect gardening and farming education in the community
  • How these programs help their interns
  • Working with churches to find land and resources
  • Bring the soil to a quality that can sustain growing food
  • Working with interpersonal skills while learning about plants and growing food
  • A standout young man that came through her program and transformed during those years

As well as:

  • Her failure – Underestimating the interpersonal abilities and skills of the various youth entering into her programs
  • Her success – The sense of community that is formed within the youth in the programs
  • Her drive – Her convictions and her faith – and the kids in her programs
  • Her advice – Have a collaborative spirit

Amanda’s Book recommendations:         

A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki

How to reach Amanda:      

Website: http://urbanlifesd.org/farms

Email: amanda@urbanlifesd.org


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