July 27, 2009 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
St. Mary’s Lots to Gardens, a Lewiston, Maine organization that uses sustainable urban agriculture to create access to fresh food, will co-host the 11th Annual Rooted in Community National Summer Conference with other food justice organizations, Cultivating Community in Portland and the Food Project of Boston.
The purpose of the conference is to bring together youth and adults involved in the food justice movement from around the country. This year, more than 100 participants will take part in youth-led educational workshops, group meals made with locally grown foods prepared by Local Sprouts Cooperative of Portland and conference participants, and gardening in Portland, Lewiston and Lincoln, Mass.
Conference participants will be in Lewiston this Thursday, July 30, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.. While there, they will work alongside the urban agriculture and youth empowerment program, Lots to Gardens. Youth will break off into groups led by Lots to Gardens staff and interns and work at one of the 15 different urban garden sites the program helps maintain around the city. Conference participants will then gather at the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center for a healthy, homegrown meal made with vegetables provided by Lots to Gardens and other local farms and prepared that morning by conference participants.
Rahma Odawa, a Youth Intern working with Lots to Gardens, said “I’m really excited about Rooted in Community because youth from all over the country are coming together to share skills and work together to figure out how to make their communities better places.”
Youth will engage in service projects around Lewiston, including donating to local service agencies a portion of the 100 bikes they will use to travel around Lewiston throughout the conference. Bicycles for the conference were donated by community members, Roy’s Bicycle Shop, and the Lewiston Police Department, and renovated by Lots to Gardens and the community bicycle program, Spoke Folks.
The Rooted in Community National Network is a grassroots organization that empowers young people to take leadership in their own communities. The RIC National Network is a diverse movement of youth and adults working together and committed to fostering healthy communities and food justice through urban and rural agriculture, community gardening, food security, and related environmental justice work.
Founded in 1999, Lots to Gardens now has 15 gardens located throughout Lewiston’s diverse urban neighborhoods. Their community food projects include apartment-side and community gardens with more than sixty families and senior citizens; neighborhood vegetable stands that provide affordable organic produce; weekly community meals and garden events; cooking and nutrition classes; and activities at the Lewiston Farmers’ Market. Each year, Lots to Gardens grows and distributes thousands of pounds of organic food throughout the city.
via The Sun Journal
What is Food Justice?
According to Wikipedia, Food Justice is an alternative view that takes a collective approach to achieve food security. The movement notes that globally enough food is produced to feed the entire world population at a level adequate to ensure that everyone can be free of hunger and fear of starvation. Advocates believe that no one should live without enough food because of economic constraints or social inequalities is the basic goal.
The food justice movement views food security as a basic human right. It advocates fairer distribution of food, particularly grain crops, as a means of ending chronic hunger and malnutrition. The core of the Food Justice movement is the belief that what is lacking is not food, but the political will to fairly distribute food regardless of the recipient’s ability to pay.