At Eastern Senior High School in Capitol Hill there is a blossoming youth cooperative business called Mighty Greens. Mighty Greens is made up of Ms. Cassandra Bell’s advisory class and Ms. Rickita Perry’s Autism Class. They sell the produce grown in the gardens through a CSA with the school staff and faculty as well as added value products like herb salts and body balm. When I started my service at Eastern I was blown away by the garden and the greenhouse they have on the school grounds. I was amazed even more at how much the kids were into their business and how smoothly they harvest, clean, package, and deliver their produce for the CSA.
The past couple of years the group has been busy getting their business off the ground by coming up with a name, creating a logo, determining who their marketing audience was, and all of the other lovely things that come with starting a business. This is the first year the class has been able to have lessons on topicsoutside the scope of business fundamentals or basic gardening. It wasdecided that a food justice unit would be completed with Ms. Bell’s advisory. (Blow the trumpets, because this is where I come in!) I thought it would be a great idea if the kids did their own DC Food Environment Map. Ms. Bell handed out observation worksheets to the kids a few days before the lesson so that they could go on a little food observation adventure. They had to see what types of stores were in their neighborhood, such as convenience stores, liquor stores, and grocery stores. They were asked to go into the stores and see if they had any produce and if it looked fresh or appealing enough that you would want to buy it. The day of the lesson we talked about their findings and a lot of them said that it was easier to go to a corner store or a fast food restaurant than a grocery store. Most of the kids didn’t even know if a farmers’ market was close to them or not.
After our discussion, we divided the kids into groups of two and three. Each group was assigned a ward and using google maps had to locate the grocery stores and convenience stores in their ward. They were also given a list of DC farmers’ markets and had to locate which were in their assigned ward. Once they were finished, it was (in my Power Rangers voice) — mapping time! The kids added themselves to the map, too, pinning their homes onto the map to get a general idea of how they’re affected.
As one of my students summed it up, “Food justice is important because everyone should be able to get fresh food and everyone should be able to eat healthy.”