Tag Archive | Program for Growth

Program for Growth plants early cold crops

Last week, under the direction of OKT’s consulting farmer, Kelsey Hakeem, garden coaches from OKT’s Program for Growth distributed cold-crops for end-of-April planting: chard, kale, parsley, and chives.

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The garden coaches observed strict social distancing guidelines and suited up with head coverings, protective jumpsuits, masks and gloves. Planting instructions are being shared via text and email. Plants are now in the ground at MLK Jr. Leadership Academy and several Program for Growth participant’s home gardens.

Program for Growth continues via phone

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Spring 2019

When Governor Whitmer closed the schools, OKT’s Program for Growth at Grand Rapids Public Schools MLK Jr. Leadership Academy kept on keeping on.

With help from her tech-savvy daughters, our executive director Lisa Oliver-King set up conference calling with program participants. Not only has the group been able to keep on learning, they have also been a great support to one another during this time of crisis.

123_1The Program for Growth involves parents and caregivers of students attending the school in food growing and healthy eating education.Through OKT’s each one-teach one philosophy, leadership of the program has come up from within. Five program participants have trained to be garden and cooking coaches for the program.

Dr. Kristi Artz and Mary Brown inspired new ways of looking at the Future of Food

WOC2Kristi Artz, MD, CCMS, with the Spectrum Health Culinary Medicine, and Mary Brown, Lead, Learning & Development Consultant Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) at Spectrum Health, led an interesting discussion at OKT’s Feb. 24 Women of Color Convening, which was sponsored by OKT and the Singularity University (SU) Grand Rapids.

WOC1Brown, a futurist, shared the role that artificial intelligence such as drones could play on farms of the future, how scientists are working to create food equivalents in the lab, and how we might be looking to alternative sources for protein in the future, for examples insects.

Dr. Artz shared the role that whole plant-based foods play in building good health. She began by citing the shortfalls of the Standard American Diet (SAD), which ignores nutritiousWOC4 fruits and vegetables in favor of high calorie, low fiber foods that promote chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and obesity. These foods can also impact mental health and make us more vulnerable to common  maladies like the flu and colds.

Eating a whole food diet that is based on lots of fruits and vegetables can prevent and sometimes reverse both chronic and acute health problems and address inflammation that underlies many of these issues.

Dr. Artz shared electronic copies of her presentation as well as many reccipes. If you’d like an electronic copy of these, email media@OKTjustice.org.

GRPS sustainability coordinator Program for Growth’s January speaker

trovillionOn Monday Jan. 27, Kristen Trovillion, sustainability coordinator for Grand Rapids Public Schools, shared how she is helping to green the district as well as information for making our own homes greener—and healthier. Grand Rapids is one of two districts in the state with a dedicated sustainability department. So far, she has led GRPS in the following sustainable accomplishments:

Cleaning chemicals. A district-wide inventory found that schools were using a total of 65 cleaning chemicals, many of them toxic. That number has been reduced to six safe products that are equally effective. Kristen shared that hydrogen-peroxide based cleaners kill just as many germs as bleach—and without the dangerous side effects. Did you know that exposure to bleach impacts the respiratory system? It can bring on more asthma attacks or prolong respiratory illness.

pfg 1 27Gardens. Kristen is currently making an inventory of all gardens at Grand Rapids Public schools, noting whether they are food gardens, pollinator gardens, or other kinds of gardens. This information will help the district see what goes into a successful garden and to better communicate with grounds staff, who sometimes inadvertently damage gardens during routine maintenance.

Composting. Kristen shared that 80% of GRPS waste is generated in the lunchrooms. Four or five schools are composting a little bit of that waste in the classroom with the help of local Grand Rapids’ compost company, Wormies, and some resident red worms. Eight schools are composting food waste, compostable lunch trays and napkins via a commercial company located in Zeeland. GRPS has to pay to have waste hauled to Zeeland. She is looking into introducing reusable trays at schools with dishwashers, but most schools are not set up for these.

Lawn chemicals. Overall, GRPS does not use toxic pesticides or herbicides and is switching over to organic lawn management. Kristen noted that they only use toxic herbicides or pesticides in urgent situations, e.g. with invasive species like poison ivy. When they are used, notices are posted on the school’s front doors and elsewhere.

Energy use and recycling. GRPS is in process of installing more energy efficient lighting and making best use of natural light, as healthy lighting supports learning. They are overhauling the current recycling system and will be introducing sorting stations to replace the current bins, which cause confusion and tend to disappear.

OKT will be including Kristen’s valuable input in its next revision of A Guide to Replication: Program for Growth, which will be tailored for use by GRPS in replicating the Program for Growth at other schools in the district.

Heart of West Michigan United Way shares post about OKT Program for Growth

Reposted from Heart of West Michigan United Way Success Stories

OUR KITCHEN TABLE CULTIVATES FOOD JUSTICE

OKT canning workshop gets rave reviews at BUGS Conference in NYC

OKT peer-educators, Belinda Harrison and Fatima Lee, traveled with OKT’s executive director, Lisa Oliver-King, to New York City Oct. 25 to present a session at the Black Urban Growers (BUGS) conference in New York City.  Ms. Lee created the program, “Canning’s not just for Grannies: Preserving the Harvest” to share basic canning skills with conference participants.

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“Everyone appreciates you all,” emailed Sue Rock, head of a Brooklyn-based nonprofit. “What an amazing workshop — so excited to start making everything, except botulism!”

Click on the links to view  pdfs of the presentation’s PowerPoint and handout.

OKT receives $25,000 Amway Grant

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Amway has approved a $25,000 grant for Our Kitchen Table’s Program for Growth at Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Academy. The funds will support programming that involves kindergarten and eighth-grade students and their parents and caregivers  in food growing and healthy eating education that addresses and helps prevent lead poisoning. The 49507 zip code is one of Michigan’s lead-poisoning hot-spots. Parents and caregivers involved in the Program for Growth meet regularly over the summer.