OKT Celebrates 2016 Successes

With your support and participation, here’s what OKT accomplished during 2016. We will be releasing our full, formal annual report soon!

greenhouse1Growing food!

OKT grew thousands of organic food starter plants at Blandford Farm. OKT gave away these fruit, vegetable, edible flower and herb plants to households in its residential food gardening program and select school and community gardens.

  • Residential Food Growing. OKT worked with eight households growing food in container and raised bed gardens in their yards, on their decks and patios and even on their window sills. OKT provided containers, composted soil, plants and seeds, basic garden tools and a weekly garden coach visit. In all, OKT residential food growers grew about  2,500 pounds of food.
  • Garden Education. OKT hosted its food growing education series twice. Each series including How to Plan Your Food Garden 1 & 2, Composting, How to Save Seeds and Introduction to Food Justice. Though designed for OKT’s residential food growers, the classes were open to the pubic at no charge. OKT, Baxter Community Center and Urban Roots coordinated growing classes to maximize benefit to community.
  • School Window Gardens. OKT worked with students at Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Academy, where they grew food in windowsill gardens. All food grown was eaten by the students in healthy snacks or brought home to their families.
  • Community and Agency Gardens. OKT provided organic starter food plants to nine community and agency gardens.

Raising Awareness

OKT raised awareness about food justice and policy issues via its ten-part Food Policy for Food Justice series, website, Facebook and at numerous conferences throughout Michigan and at Grand Rapids-based community and university events.

0211161804Healthy Eating Strategies

Cook, Eat and Talk . OKT’s cooking coaches presented one-session, two-session, four-session and eight-session healthy eating series in partnership with various agencies and for its growers and community.

Women of Color Series

OKT brought in recognized community activists from various Michigan organizations to speak on Being a White Ally — Lila Cabbil and Barbara Roos; Uprooting Racism — Shane Bernardo; Herbal Medicine — Lottie Spady; , Food as Medicine — Adela Nieves; and Diagramming Your Food System — Shakara Taylor.

Southeast Area Farmers’ Market

13882561_1253537447998287_2460462587423020698_nIn 2016, OKT decided to hold both its Friday and Saturday markets at MLK Jr. Park, 900 Fuller St. SE. The park setting brought increased traffic to our market vendors. OKT estimates that 656 patrons visited the market  to generate $8,100 in sales.

  • Vendors: A total of nine vendors sold local, safe produce, cottage foods, crafts and Watkins products. Ninety percent of market vendors were women of color from Grand Rapids southeast neighborhoods.
  • Food Assistance Dollars. The market participated in SNAP, Double Up Food Bucks, Senior Project Fresh, WIC, and a new UCC/OKT program, SEAFM Market Bucks, which provided $1 and $5 coupons good for produce at the market.  One-third of sales were Market Buck purchases.
  • Community Partners.  The market hosted a wide range of community partners who shared their resources with market patrons: Planned Parenthood, The Spoke Folks, Grand Rapids Food Co-op Initiative, Great Start Collaborative,  LINC-Up Soul Food Café, Creative Youth Center, Grand Rapids Fire Department , Voice GR and Healthy Homes.
  • Community Events The Market hosted several fun, family friendly events: Urban Foraging Workshop, Fried Green Tomato Festival, Make Your Own Personal Care Items Workshop, Art at the Market and Greens Cook-off.