Most children don't know what they want to be when they grow up. Not Fatima. At the tender age of 10, she knows she is destined to be a dentist. She already has looked into how many years of college education it would take, and the amount of debt she would incur throughout the process. Fully aware of the struggle it would be to complete this goal from her modest upbringing, Fatima forges ahead undeterred. Participating in an afterschool gardening program is just one of the beginning steps in her mind. How better to look after her teeth, than to learn about the food she has to eat everyday of her life for years to come? It just "makes sense" she says, after detailing her lifelong ambitions. Unbeknownst to her, the wisdom behind that simple statement is exactly what we hope to cultivate in our garden classrooms.
This Spring at Eagleton Elementary we will manage a greenhouse and several raised beds in order to produce herbs, greens, and spices to be used in their school lunches. While we will be growing several different crops and flowers, the true focus will be growing a culture of youth who are not only informed about their local food system but actively participating in it. We need more boys and girls like Fatima who are invested in making better choices regarding food on a daily basis. Who know that this is not just about 2 hours of afterschool programming, but about building a foundation for a wholesome lifestyle.
What is most important is the fact that we involve these youth in our food system and give them the sense that they can be active participants in our society. With every tomato that these students plant, nurture, harvest, and then transport to their school cafeteria we are not only simultaneously improving their health, physically and mentally, but empowering them to take a stand in their community. We want our students to know that they can provide for themselves, their family, and their peers. With your support we can continue to make that a reality for students like Fatima throughout Denver and Jefferson County.