On Saturday Jan. 21, Our Kitchen Table hosted a group of 17 Grand Valley State University (GVSU) students for a Food Justice class and service opportunity at Baxter Community Center. GVSU’s MLK Jr. Day of Service and Solidarity has the goal of educating students about the Civil Rights movement and inspiring them to serve their communities in the spirit of social change. In addition, students have opportunity to experience solidarity through service projects.
During a two-hour Food Justice class, students learned what food justice is, the history of the industrial food system and actions they can take to play a part in the bigger food justice movement.
After a tour of Baxter’s food and clothing pantry, kitchens, medical and dental clinics, greenhouse and childcare center, the students divided into small groups to take on various tasks around Baxter Community Center. They picked up trash on the property, cleaned out the greenhouse, organized the food pantry and and tidied up the kitchen.
OKT was happy Baxter came on board to offer a service portion as part of the day’s activities. Hopefully, some or all of these students will go on to be champions of food justice where they live and work.
The MLK Jr. Day of Service and Solidarity is one event in a week-long commemoration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
While OKT has been thinking about food gardens all winter — and started growing organic food starter plants in February — now is the time for the rest of us to start planning, plotting and conspiring to grow our own alternative to the industrial food system. For starters, OKT is now recruiting residential food gardeners for the 2016 growing season. OKT has free gardening resources for you if you:
- Live within our four target neighborhoods (SECA. Baxter, Eastown or Garfield Park).
- Are pregnant or have children eight-grade or younger.
- Have challenges that limit your access to healthy food.
- Have health challenges that can be addressed by growing your own food.
Gardening Classes start in April!
Baxter Community Center is offering its food gardening series in April:
April 6: Garden Basics 1
April 13: Garden Basics 2
April 20: Soil Health/Composting
April 27: Seed Saving
These classes take place on Wednesdays from 6-7:30 p.m. at Baxter Community Center 935 Baxter St. (entrance on Bemis). They are free (but donations are appreciated). For nformation, email anna, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Kitchen Table will be offering two food justice classes in April.
April 18 : Food Policy for Food Justice Class
April 25 : Diagramming Your Food System Class
And, OKT will begin its free food gardening classes in May:
May 2: How to Plan Your Food Garden 1
May 9: How to Plan Your Food Garden 2
May 16: Composting & Vermiculture
May 23: How to Save Seeds
Baxter Community Center works to provide Baxter neighborhood gardeners with plants, seeds and supplies they need to grow healthy foods for their families. Baxter provides food plants, raised beds, a traditional gardening library with books on growing, cooking and canning as well as a seed library. Now they are adding a tool library–and they are asking for help. Many of Baxter’s neighbors don’t have access to shovels, rakes, hand trowels and other tools needed to maintain their gardens. In addition, having tillers and power tools would allow neighbors and other community organizations build more garden spaces.
Baxter hopes to launch the tool library in March 2014. Tools will be available for anyone in the community to use, but especially the families in its Raised Bed Program and community partners that are starting their own urban agriculture programs that benefit low income families. Any extra funding will be kept as a replacement budget for lost and broken tools.
Baxter’s Raised Bed gardening program serves a neighborhood where 33.5% of households fall below the poverty line, 17.5% of residents are unemployed and 99% of school-aged children qualify for the free or reduced lunch program at their school. In 2009, the Health Department’s food security assessment declared that the Baxter neighborhood was a food desert.
Its Greenhouse and Raised Bed programs increase food security by providing fresh produce and programming to enhance nutrition, environmental awareness, and community spirit. The addition of a tool library would not only allow neighbors to have more productive gardens, but would help build even stronger ties in our community by promoting shared resources. Since beginning the program, Baxter has been overwhelmed with the community response. People in the neighborhood are excited to be doing something collectively that adds beauty, builds relationships, and addresses important health issues our families face.
Baxter Community Center, 935 Baxter St SE, launches its Gardener’s Guild series at 6 p.m. Tuesday April 16 with a free screening of award winning documentary, Soul Food Junkies. In this documentary, a
ward-winning filmmaker Byron Hurt explores the health advantages and disadvantages of the soul food culinary tradition. Free popcorn! After the film, Grand Rapids African American Health Institute
‘s executive director Shannon Wilson will lead a discussion.
On May 14, Baxter’s Gardener’s Guild , Our Kitchen Table will lead the discussion after a screening of the film, Whats On Your Plate?
For information, call (616) 456-8593.