The Local Food Project, Saint Petersburg, FL grows food, community.
Real change happens when people participate in meaningful projects that build self-esteem, inspire self-sufficiency, improve neighborhoods and create a better quality of life for families. The Local Food Project develops empowering holistic interdisciplinary garden-based programming which provides a vital connection to nature and healthy food that has been largely lost in our modern communities, whether urban, suburban or rural. Sustainable programs are developed, to create the foundation for lasting change, living wage jobs and equitable quality of life.
Programs are developed for people of all ages in disadvantaged communities among marginalized populations and are currently focused in neighborhoods where over 20,000 people live 100% below the poverty line. Studies show that well fed kids perform better in school and life, and this nonprofit team has helped improve access to healthy food while creating fun and innovative educational programs that build community, improve students' classroom performance, and combat systemic issues of poverty like hunger, neighborhood blight, high school dropout rates and unemployment. Community-based gardens, plus programs at daycare, before and after school programs are important places to connect with the community with edible educational garden programs. Starting kids out right helps build healthier communities, as they become responsible citizens who support their communities.
The Local Food Project team is dedicated to moving forward local food policy and putting in place sustainable urban agriculture ordinances for healthier regional food systems, helping to organize participation in drafting ordinances and promoting rural and urban agriculture activities.
Delores - Jordan Park Community Gardener and Resident
"These days, people need to know how to grow their own food to make it affordable to eating healthy fruits and vegetables. Used to be you could walk around eating all day. There were fruit trees everywhere."
Everything is organically grown utilizing regenerative agriculture techniques, which are taught to the students.
These edible gardens are integrated right into the playgrounds, a part of every day for the children! Classes let the students get involved in planting, watering, harvesting -- the whole experience of growing food.
They've already tasted herbs, fruits and vegetables, and recently enjoyed a real feast when 50 pounds of Carambola (Starfruit) were delivered to the classroom!
In April 2014, The Local Food Project partnered with residents, St Petersburg Housing Authority, Winnco Management, Magnolia Landscaping, St Petersburg Garden Club, plus other nonprofit agencies, health and education institutions, government, neighborhood organizations and local businesses to create 5000 square feet of food forest-style organic gardens to serve 725 families in low income housing. Weekly classes, Magic Carpet Reading Circle, activities and events help build community and expand food access. T hank you Bon Secours and other community partners who support this program.
Students harvest what they grow, cook it, eat it and sell it at their monthly produce market with Fresh Entrepreneurs. 3rd through 5th graders learn product display, marketing, sales and operation of their produce market. They gain real world experience and develop transferable life skills that can contribute to their future success while expanding access to fresh produce in a food desert. Learning to make change, meet the public professionally, establish and manage a bank account, develop a growing plan and maintain inventory -- hands-on meaningful skills they can apply to success in life!
This innovative January 2015 free public event brought together 39 vendors, including City of St Petersburg, health and education institutions, training, day care, food vendors, neighborhoods, local businesses and 350+ families for a health fair and healthy fun with a petting zoo, athletic activities, healthy food, music and dancing plus a multimedia art project for the kids to make posters about what Dr. Martin Luther King's quote "I Am Somebody" means to them. Community leaders stepped up to talk about what that important statement has meant in their lives. Jordan Park Community Garden participants had a booth to share what's been going on in their garden. A great time was had by all, celebrating Midtown Youth and Healthy Food Growing Locally!
Real Food Grows is an edible garden education program created by The Local Food Project for 187 students at Mt Zion Children’s Center and Elementary Academy from age 2 through 5th grade starting in September 2016. The children learn to grow their own food, harvest, prepare and eat it and share the experience with their families. This is interdisciplinary STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math and music) programming geared to engage all sorts of kids, especially those experiencing learning challenges.
Special activities and events send the learning experience home with the kids to share with their families or bring their families into the gardens to join the hands-on fun,tasting freshly harvested fruits, vegetables and herbs and connecting with nature.