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HARVEST TIME FOR GROWING THE BACKYARD

mgm-farm-stand

Growing the Backyard’s Farm Stand at the Midtown Global Market

by Candis  Mckelvy, member of Growing the Backyard Community Health Action Team

The original plan in 2010 for Growing the Backyard, a Community Healthy Action Team or CHAT involved since the early days of the Backyard Initiative, was to support local residents who wanted to grow their own produce and assist by helping them with the work. Farming is hard work.  The original CHAT leaders of this team set out to work with families in the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood and provide them with fresh produce. There was also support for other neighborhoods to receive fresh produce.

The focus of this CHAT has continued to work to achieve this original goal though some of the activities have changed. Our activities for this year included reaching out to additional BYI community residents to grow food and join the farm stand at the Midtown Global Market. We also wanted to have youth sell produce they had grown and produce grown by Community Farmers.

Working with families in the Backyard includes communicating with local residents about the benefits of gardening and growing your own produce. These benefits include: increasing nutritional health, cutting down on the ingestion of pesticides, and helping to provide cost-effective items.

Janet Court, Growing the Backyard CHAT leader tabling at the MGM.

Janet Court, Growing the Backyard CHAT leader tabling at the MGM.

PLANS FOR THE 2017 GROWING SEASON

Growing the Backyard CHAT leaders plan to reach out to the other BYI Community Health Action Teams about growing foods they can use to for cleaning and to increase the health of their CHAT members.  For example: Some of the Anchor Family CHAT team members live in apartments. It might be possible to establish a garden on the land surrounding an apartment building where Anchor Family members live. However, Anchor Family members who live in the Midtown Exchange do not have access to land on which to garden. Our goal would be to help them find land for them to farm and promote farming, helping them to have access to fresh produce.     

In the 2016 growing season, Growing the Backyard began a Farm Stand in the Midtown Global Market. This is a way to bring produce grown by community residents to those living in the MGM. We hope to be able to promote the Farm Stand more in 2017 and look forward to additional participation from the other BYI CHATS.

We also are planning strategies to increase our outreach to youth about the connection between food and health. We want the youth of our community to be the best at what they want to be.

WHY IT IS IMPORTANT FOR YOUTH TO PARTICIPATE

Youth are the future. They are also the future farmers, food producers, distributors and processors.  We would like to improve the employment process of youth for our CHAT.

The youth are an asset to Growing The Backyard. Likewise, the adults involved in our CHAT can help them to grow their knowledge of gardening and farming. Without youth to help with the work during this gardening year, our CHAT would not be as vibrant and we would not have had as much produce.

One of the important goals for next year is for the Growing The Backyard CHAT to secure land for us to consistently use.  This is also essential for us to have a place to teach and employ the youth.  This year, we used several scattered plots: one at 12th Ave. & 26th Street across from Anderson school; one on 40th & 4th Ave. S.; and one on E. 34th St. & Chicago. This requires a lot of transportation of youth, equipment and materials between sites. Having one larger site would help us spend more efficient time producing food and working with the youth.

Season’s end celebration of the Step-Up youth involved in Growing the Backyard CHAT and in leadership training through the Backyard Initiative.

Season’s end celebration of the Step-Up youth involved in Growing the Backyard CHAT and in leadership training through the Backyard Initiative.

Youth participants in Growing the Backyard with CHAT co-leader Candis Mckelvy.

Youth participants in Growing the Backyard with CHAT co-leader Candis Mckelvy.

candis-selfieCandis Mckelvy, Growing the Backyard one of the CHAT leaders: “The most important thing for me in my work with Growing the Backyard is help to increase the knowledge about food for our community’s youth.  It is difficult to change an adult’s eating habit so I choose to concentrate my attention on youth. When they have the information they can start their change. It’s easier at a younger age.

Healthy food can help them concentrate in school or at home to complete their  homework. We talk about sugar and we need to talk about carbohydrates, fatty acids, and the lack of protein, iron and essential vitamins. I want to give them information about things that promote brain growth and function.”

The CHAT leaders for Growing the Backyard are: Janet Court, Collie Graddick, and Candis Mckelvy. For more information about the Growing the Backyard CHAT or the Backyard Initiative, please visit the BYI Resource Center in the MGM or call 612-353-6211.

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