At Collective Roots, we seek to promote food justice by engaging youth and communities in garden-based learning and nutrition education to positively impact health. Our programs empower community members to grow their own food, encourage kids to safely prepare healthy snacks, promote seed saving and other sustainable gardening practices, and allow students and community members to try new fruits and vegetables through taste tests, cooking demonstrations, and nutrition classes. These programs – divided into school-based and community-based interventions – are all vital to our mission. Over the years, we have found increased impact and success as we strive to better integrate our community programs with our school-based classes and activities. Read more for some examples of our integration efforts.
Sadie Taylor, who has lived in East Palo Alto for 46 years, said she’s accustomed to going to Safeway in Menlo Park or Foods Co. in Redwood City for groceries simply because she always has. She also goes to the California Avenue farmers market, which she said has things that the East Palo Alto market doesn’t. She knows that Mi Pueblo has a lot of fresh produce but doesn’t shop there often, she said. She said she doesn’t know why. Taylor also has tended to a garden of her own for the last 10 years, growing collard greens, turnips, green beans, tomatoes and more. “(Fresh food) is very important to me,” Taylor said. “Homegrown food, yes.” She called the farmers market a blessing, one of many positive changes she’s seen in the almost half century she’s lived in East Palo Alto. ”I appreciate it. That’s another change. We never had a farmers market here before.” Read more.
Stanford’s Cardinal for the Community program (C4C) worked with Collective Roots on Saturday to install a garden at the Community Reentry Program of East Palo Alto -a social service agency for parolees and youth on probation. Eleven student athletes representing women’s soccer, men’s golf, and track and field got an early start on Saturday morning to assemble eight, raised wooden garden beds designed for growing food for East Palo Alto community residents. Read more.
Youth in the community and older residents may be surprised to learn that EPA was once home to fruit orchards and plant nurseries. One tour through the city and that history becomes evident. There’s an abundance of fruit trees, wild plants and wildlife within city limits. “Just learning about East Palo Alto history and learning to appreciate things in my community, I never tripped on the fact that I have a lemon tree, an orange tree, a plum tree,” said Ms. Phillips. “You walk around East Palo Alto all the time and you see these trees and don’t trip off it. Everybody doesn’t have that in their city. “Taking the tours around East Palo Alto and seeing the urban farmers, the Cooley Landing. It made me have a better appreciation for things I see in my community. I see them every day. The rest of my family is from San Francisco. They don’t have that. They have buildings, cars and public transportation.” Read more.
The gardening section of the East Palo Alto Library has been stocking more than just books. For several months, a seed library has been offering aspiring gardeners everything from basil and strawberries to ornamental flowers. “I am taking a leap of faith,” said Larry Moody as he gathered up lettuce and tomato seeds for a backyard project he hopes will be life changing for his four children. “We want to stop being viewers of the billboard and really just try to incorporate some of these life changes into our own home,” he said. Listen to the story online.
Just as one seed can produce many seeds, one idea can change many lives. Free public libraries were revolutionary in their time because they provided access to books and knowledge that had not previously been available to a large segment of the population. A free seed lending library can also provide people with a chance to transform their lives and communities by providing access to fresh, healthy food that may not otherwise be available. The East Palo Alto seed library is a lot like a traditional library in a number of ways. Read more.