From helping edit curriculum taught to youth at the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm to leading volunteers in garden projects, Andy Myers has served with the Hands On Nashville Urban Agriculture Program for more than a year.
This week, Hands On Nashville is kicking off Crop City, a six-week camp where community youth will learn how to grow food and make healthy eating choices! 2014 Crop City participants are youth served by the following organizations: Watkins Park Community Center, Y-CAP, Martha O’Bryan Center, Youth Villages, Sophia’s Heart, and the Nashville International Center for Empowerment.
As we begin, we would like to introduce you to a group of outstanding Hands On Nashville Urban Agriculture Teaching Interns who will lead the farm-to-table, curriculum-based summer youth development program.
Guided by Hands On Nashville staff, these awesome interns will teach Crop City participants – who live in neighborhoods with limited access to fresh produce — how to grow healthy produce to share with their communities and useful leadership skills to foster future growth. Please join us in welcoming these young leaders who are making a difference during their summer break.
Grace Bryant is a rising junior at Glencliff High School where she is currently preparing for a future in biological engineering. After school, Grace can often be found researching diseases among insects in a biology lab. Grace hopes to share her knowledge of nutritious plants and food with the world this summer, and in the future.
Fun fact: If Grace could be any movie character, she’d be Michelangelo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – he has a lot of fun but still helps others.
Mariah Darty is a rising junior at Glencliff High School. From joining the garden club and working for the newspaper to tutoring students at two different middle schools, Mariah has taken on many new activities over the last year. She is ready to continue learning and teaching others while adding an Urban Agriculture Internship to the list this summer.
Fun Fact: If Mariah could be any cartoon character, she would be Sponge Bob because he is always happy, and positive.
Emily Dunn is a rising senior at Hume-Fogg Academic High School where she’s co-captain of the swim team; co-leads a club that raises money to fight cancer; and helps coordinate the school’s recycling effort. Emily is returning for her second year leading Crop City programming as an Urban Agriculture Intern. She’s driven to play an active role in eliminating food deserts.
Fun Fact: If Emily could be any cartoon character, she would be Phineas, from Phineas and Ferb – because they lived in an endless summer.
Jon Edwards is a rising senior at Hume-Fogg Academic High School where he will serve as Student Body Treasurer next fall. As a volunteer, Jon has spent three Christmas holidays working at a school and orphanage in Managua, Nicaragua and has served as a tutor for elementary school students within the local community. This summer, he hopes to positively influence a child’s future out at the Farm.
Fun Fact: If Jon could only listen to one CD/album forever, he’d listen to, The Band by The Band.
Nikita Holbert, a rising senior at Hume-Fogg Academic High School, absolutely loves to be outside. Nikita is excited to bring her gardening experience (she has planted tomatoes, squash, and peaches at her grandmother’s garden…yum), passion for helping others, and strong interest in teaching youth to the Urban Farm this summer.
Fun Fact: If Nikita could have superpowers, she would have the abilities to disappear, pause the world, and run fast.
Ameena Khoshnaw is a rising senior at Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Magnet School. As a dedicated volunteer, Ameena regularly serves at local Islamic churches and has assisted in disaster relief efforts as an ICNA Disaster Relief Group volunteer. Ameena strives to be a shining example for her younger family members and help those less fortunate take steps toward success in their lives.
Fun Fact: Photography is Ameena’s favorite hobby – she loves capturing nature’s amazing scenes.
Camryn Magsby is a rising sophomore at Hume-Fogg Academic High School. Camryn is a strong advocate of healthy eating, and has helped fight hunger as a volunteer at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, Nashville Rescue Mission, and Mercy Ministries. Camryn aims to inspire others to see the value of growing their own food this summer.
Fun fact: If Camryn could have any superpower, it would be to read people’s minds, like professor X from X-Men.
Dina Mikaiel is a rising senior at Antioch High School where she is an essential part of the school’s Leadership Class. Dina helps fellow students through the Adopt a Freshmen program, serves as a Big Sister, and hopes to meet new people and help change lives of community youth through education this summer.
Fun Fact: If Dina could travel anywhere in the world, she would travel to Egypt.
Leyla Mohamed is a rising senior at Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Magnet School where she is a member of Beta Club, Red-Cross club and the Muslim Student Association. For the past three years, Leyla has volunteered at local mosques teaching children Arabic nearly every weekend. This summer, Lelya hopes to learn more about the agriculture system in Nashville and use her leadership skills to help improve it.
Fun Fact: If Leyla could have any superpower, she would have all of the knowledge in the world.
Miranda Moore is a rising sophomore at Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Magnet School. She loves working with kids, and has many years of experience as a camp counselor. Miranda is looking forward to sharing her knowledge of healthy foods and nutrition with campers this summer, and is excited to learn more about urban agriculture throughout the process.
Fun Fact: If Miranda could only eat one type of food forever, she would choose Clementines.
Megnot Mulugeta is a rising senior at Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Magnet School where for the last two school years she has helped organize fundraisers for FEED, an organization that helps feed and clothe children in Haiti. With a newfound interest in gardening, Megnot aims to help others to make healthier choices this summer.
Fun Fact: If Megnot could have any superpower, she would be able to read minds.
Farhiyo Omar, a rising junior at Hillwood High School, is very excited to be spending a second consecutive summer teaching at Crop City this year. Farhiyo says that being able to watch the kids smile and grow last year was a very rewarding experience and is looking forward to again sharing her knowledge of farming with others.
Fun fact: If she could do anything she wanted, Farhiyo would travel the world.
Rayan Osman is a rising junior at Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Magnet School. Rayan is co-founder of her school’s Muslim-Student Association and regularly tutors elementary and middle school students. After college, Rayan plans to go to Somalia to help residents fight poverty. She hopes to gain knowledge about agriculture this summer.
Fun Fact: Reading is Rayan’s favorite hobby – it’s a really fun activity, she says.
Carson Thomas is a rising senior at University School of Nashville where she co-leads USN’s Environmental Club, is captain of the Ultimate Frisbee Team and is involved with the Student Sustainability Initiative. Carson has served as a fellow at the Urban Farm for the last year, and is thrilled to be joining us again for her second consecutive summer as an Urban Agriculture Intern at Crop City.
Fun Fact: If Carson could only eat one type of food forever, it would be pasta.
Chloe Vaccaro is a recent graduate of Martin Luther King, Jr. Academic Magnet School and will attend UT Knoxville in the fall. As an Urban Farm Fellow and Urban Agriculture Intern for the past two summers, Chloe continues to make an impact at the Urban Farm. Chloe’s long-term goal is to help increase access to healthy food for families located in food deserts and hopes to continue to learn about organic farming this summer.
Fun Fact: If Chloe could only listen to one CD/album forever, it would be Live by Erykah Badu.
With the 2013 Crop City program winding down here in its final week, campers were treated to a very special visit at the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm yesterday!
Local chefs Tony Galzin and Jo Ellen Brown stopped by and spent the morning whipping up a pair of delicious summer dishes for campers to enjoy. The demonstrations, part of Crop City’s unique farm-to-table curriculum, gave dozens of youth a first-hand look at how easy it is to create dishes that are not only delicious, but healthy as well.
Chef Tony’s squash salad and Chef Jo Ellen’s fruit dip were such a huge hit yesterday that we thought it would be a great idea to share the recipes with you. Give one or both of these outstanding recipes a try in your own kitchen!
Summer Squash Salad
2 medium summer squash
1 bell pepper
6 cherry tomatoes
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
–Wash all vegetables.
–Cut squash into 1/4 inch slices.
–Microwave in a plastic container with a little water for 2 minutes.
–Check to see if the squash is tender. If it’s not, microwave until cooked.
–Strain out water and put the squash in a bowl.
–Cut the pepper in half. Remove the seeds, and cut into small dice. Add to the squash.
–Cut the tomatoes into quarters and add to the rest of the vegetables.
–Cut the lime into quarters and squeeze the juice over the vegetables. Add the olive oil and mix.
–Season with salt, pepper, and a small amount of cayenne, and mix.
Yogurt Almond Fruit Dip
1 cup of Greek or plain yogurt
1/2 cup of peanut butter or almond butter
2-3 Tablespoons of honey
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
–Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk until the dip has a consistent color and texture. Serve with sliced apples.
Many thanks to both chefs for donating their time and expertise to help Nashville-area youth eat smarter and healthier!
By Josh Corlew, Hands On Nashville Urban Agriculture Program Manager
Welcome to summer!
We hope all of you had a wonderful Fourth of July holiday in the company of good friends, loving family, and (of course) delicious food!
Out at the Farm, these long summer days and warm summer nights are translating into a big growth spurt for many of our crops. Plenty of garlic has already been pulled, the tomatoes and peppers will provide a steady harvest for the next month and a half, our sunflowers are beaming, and the bush beans are taking off like wildfire.
There have also been some pretty significant changes made on the grounds of the Urban Farm over the course of the past month or so as well. Most notably, we have completed installation of the Butterfly Garden between our vegetable fields. This beautiful space will provide a great habitat for all of the beneficial insects that help make our vegetables healthy and happy. We encourage visitors to come enjoy the view of the new garden from one of the nearby swing sets!
As we mentioned in our last update, the summer youth development program Crop City is in full swing and will continue to take place every weekday until July 19. Over 200 youth come out to the Farm every week to participate in Crop City and learn about sustainable growing and the importance of healthy eating.
Overseeing all of this activity and leading the programming for Crop City is our talented team of 15 Urban Farm Apprentices. Our Apprentices have been doing an amazing job running the program and engaging Crop City campers while also gaining valuable leadership skills, and the program certainly would not be the success that it is without them!
Click here to learn more about each of these outstanding high school students who are making a real difference this summer.
Finally, we will be offering an Urban Farm Summer Camp program from July 22 to July 26 for 9- to 13-year old boys and girls. This curriculum for this camp will be very similar to that of Crop City, and it will also be led by our Apprentices. Participants will be immersed in an experienced-based learning environment full of delicious vegetables, colorful flowers, and a variety of fun and educational games. We’d love to have you join us for this fun and educational experience so click here to learn more and sign up!
And of course, if you have any other questions about the Urban Farm, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more Farm updates throughout the growing season!
Josh Corlew is Hands On Nashville’s Urban Agriculture Program Manager. He oversees the organization’s efforts to engage volunteers in service opportunities that empower them to gain gardening skills, learn about healthy eating choices, and help address our city’s food access issues. An AmeriCorps alumnus, Josh also has a secret past life as a Trekkie (he’s a big fan of the TV series Star Trek, for the uninitiated among us), and he has been known to participate in death-defying canoe trips.
Guest post by Daniel Pannock, Hands On Nashville Urban Agriculture Fellow and junior at University School of Nashville
Daniel Pannock is one of 10 students in the inaugural class of Urban Agriculture Fellows here at Hands On Nashville. The HON Urban Agriculture Fellowship Program is a service and learning opportunity for high school students interested in gaining project planning, implementation, and evaluation skills. Upon the conclusion of their training, Fellows lead self-designed volunteer projects at nonprofit organizations across Nashville. Daniel and Michael Ding, a junior at MLK, completed their Fellowship project at Trevecca’s Perk Garden.
Gardening can be fun and rewarding for any individual, but many people have begun to recognize its potential benefits in cities. One such example is the development of Urban Agriculture systems, in which “farmers” turn old parking lots and other abandoned areas within a city into arable land by laying compostable materials over it. This practice is slowly growing in popularity, creating a “food revolution” that can help communities without regular access to healthy foods acquire nutrient-rich produce for very little cost. One of these urban farms is the Perk Garden, run by Jason Adkins of Trevecca Nazerene University. This specific garden is a part of Trevecca’s J.V. Morsch Justice Center’s mission to “tackle today’s tough issues such as human trafficking, unclean water, poverty and hunger”, and has produced over 750 pounds of food in its first year.
We were assigned to help Perk Garden grow and expand by our program director, Alison Duncan. After talking to Jason, we decided to help him build a rain barrel, paint signs, and create a garden bed. The project day itself was very nerve racking for Michael and me. It was definitely a new experience, having to organize a workday and designate people to certain tasks. However, with many signs refurbished and a new garden bed and rain barrel added to the Perk Garden, it was a big success.
From the perspective of being high school students in this Urban Agriculture Fellowship Program, we are happy that this project went well, and we would like to thank Alison and Jason for an unforgettable experience. We had great fun learning about how to approach gardening holistically–whether that be by planting mushrooms under a chicken coop to digest the chicken waste and keep local water sources clean, or by creating a system to cleanse a fish tank’s water by running it under plants.
Despite the difficulties we encountered in communication, gathering supplies, and other things, we feel that our leadership skills and decision-making abilities grew quite a bit as a result of the program. We want to thank everyone who helped us with this project and our success with it.
By Becca Stinson, Director of Communications for Hands On Nashville –
Last Thursday morning, I woke up extra early. Not to go for a run or knock some chores off my list before the weekend. I woke up early to dig in the dirt, see nature at its best, and step outside of the rush of the busy work week and give back. And it felt good.
I admit that when my alarm first went off, I thought, “Why did I do this to myself?!” But when I stepped out of my car and saw the light of dawn greeting me over the vegetable rows at the HON Urban Farm, I was reminded of why I signed up. Because I love getting out from behind my desk, getting my hands dirty, learning about the world, and getting out of my comfort zone and my routine. I also love the fact that the tomatoes, squash, beans, and other delicious food grown at the Farm is donated to nonprofit organizations in Nashville serving families in need. Families who might otherwise not have access to fresh, healthy produce.
Our Farm team is making these early Thursday projects a regular thing for the next few weeks, so if you’re an early riser (or just want to pretend you are), you can sign up here. Here’s a little photo montage of my morning at the Farm, before I dashed into work.
Becca Stinson is Hands On Nashville’s director of communications. Her favorite vegetable? Beets.
It’s been an incredible year for the Hands On Nashville VolunTEEN Program, thanks to the youth volunteers who have hammered, dug, collected, sorted, planted, taught, harvested, built, and cooked their way through a year of service that has left the Middle Tennessee community a better place. Here are a few numbers to put it all in perspective:
- 2,352 youth participated in service opportunities in 2011
- 10,128 hours of service completed
- 726 of the volunteers served as mentors to at-risk youth via Backfield in Motion; HON-managed programs related to the arts, health, and food security at Bethlehem Centers, Safe Haven Family Shelter, Fannie Battle Day Home, Friends Life, Edgehill Center, Renewal House, McIver Center, Salvation Army, and St. Luke’s.
- 1,122 youth volunteers participated in HON’s sustainable food program, working at multiple urban garden locations at the above-mentioned nonprofits.
Wow. We are in awe, and we know the Nashville community is, too.
HON launched a youth urban gardening initiative this year, and one of the gardens where lots of growing took place (of vegetables AND minds) was Bethlehem Centers. The impressive garden was established in March by HON youth volunteers, and has become a focal point of Nashville urban garden tours and media stories. One of our favorite moments of the growing season was when HON volunteers and Bethlehem Centers youth discovered with delight what Brussels sprouts look like growing on the stalk. Almost all of us have been surprised when we learned how a certain kind of food looks before it lands on our plate (um, do you remember discovering that pickles are actually CUCUMBERS? – yes, most of us have had that moment of shock and awe).
One parent put it very well in an e-mail to us, after picking up her son from one of our youth gardening workshops this summer:
When I picked up my son today, I expected to hear exhausted moans… Instead, I got an excited lecture on the process of creating garden beds, and the remarkable biochemistry of mushrooms, and kale-the-miracle-plant. The heat and the blisters took a back-seat to the learning and the satisfaction of doing some good. Thanks for the opportunity! He’ll be back tomorrow am.
Thank YOU, parents, for supporting your children in volunteerism. And an extra special thanks to HON youth volunteers for making this year so memorable and for “Being the Change.” We can’t wait to tackle more amazing projects with you in 2012! (P.S. – A great way to find out what’s going on with the VolunTEEN Program is by following the HON VolunTEEN Facebook page).