469: Francey Slater on Urban Ag and Food Justice.
Creating resilience in an urban community.
In This Podcast:
It was after spending some time out of the country that Francey Slater woke to the poor American relationship with food. This motivated her towards food justice and making a difference in her community. With a belief that healthy food is a right for everyone, she co-founded a non-profit that is creating community and school gardens, and building a stronger, resilient community as a result.
Francey is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Mill City Grows in Lowell, MA. Her experience creating garden-based educational programming spans two decades, several continents, and youth through adult learners.
Mill City Grows is an organization that fosters food justice by improving physical health, economic independence and environmental sustainability in Lowell through increased access to land, locally-grown food and education.
Prior to founding Mill City Grows, she was the Education Director for CitySprouts, worked as a member of the Urban Nutrition Initiative in Philadelphia, PA, helped to restore agricultural efforts in a village school in Bangalore, India; and provided education for farmers, gardeners, and youth in Hocotepec, Mexico.
Listen in and learn about:
- She grew up a city kid and did not become interested until college
- Wanting to know more about growing food after spending time in kitchen
- A common history with people growing up in the city and choosing a path to ag
- The Standard American Diet (SAD) and what she learned about it
- Her time abroad where she was awakened to relationship food
- No one wakes up in the morning saying ‘I want to eat crappy food, feel bad, and get sick’”
- A global study is showing a leading cause of death is due to poor diet
- Food choice is being made by people outside of the community
- Solving the problems for food choice IN COMMUNITY is better
- Defining food justice and how healthy food is a right that everyone should have
- The movement behind urban agriculture
- Reconnecting city dwellers to an ability to grow their own food
- The genesis of non-profit organization Mill City Grows co-founded with Lydia Sisson
- Struggling to find a community garden plot
- Finding contamination in her soil and needing to bring in healthy soil
- Some key facts about Lowell, MA
- Starting by talking to anyone who would listen to their idea
- Helping a community make an investment in a community garden and seeing the community change
- Mills City Grows now has 7 community gardens, 13 school gardens, and 3 urban farms that distribute food around the community
- The farm share program that is making a difference
- Some epic stories with kids in the garden
- The differences they see with kids succeeding in school because of the garden programs
As well as:
Her failure – A fast tracked garden project that did not start with community support
Her success – Being part of building a community around a collective vision
Her drive – Being part of something bigger than my self
Her advice – Dig in, grow something, and share it
Francey’s Book recommendations:
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America by Geoffrey Canada
How to reach Francey