MEET THE FOOD LEADER CERTIFICATE PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS

MEET KIM DIAZ - 2016

Kim Diaz graduated from Victory Garden Initiative Food Leadership program 2016.  Kim is the coordinator of the Green Bay Garden Blitz project.  She is the Vice President of New Leaf Foods, Inc a nonprofit working on improving access and education of local healthy food in Green Bay.  They are working on bringing a full service grocery Co-op to Green Bay Wisconsin.  Kim is also the coordinator for the Gathering Place Victory Garden: Helping people with victory over mental illness.  Also, co -coordinator for the Manna For Life Food Pantry & Soup Kitchen Garden.  Kim is a graduate of the UWGB with a BS in Environmental Policy & Planning.


"Gardening for me is about relationships.  My relationship with those that I love, with my community and my relationship with the earth."

image.pngKim Diaz (pictured right) with fellow Food Leader and Green Bay Garden Blitz partner, Katrina Huempfner (pictured left).

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MEET DELANEY HUTCHINSON - 2017

" And forget not that the earth delights to feel your feet and the winds long to play with your hair"


I picked this quote to start my bio because I think it's something we can all relate to. I think pretty much everyone, some more often than not, forgets to stop and smell the rose and really enjoy the gifts life gives. My name is Delaney and I am 17 years old. I currently go to McKinley Academy whose staff I cannot thank more for giving me this opportunity to be the in the food leader certificate program. I grew up in the state of Washington and was very lucky to have a mom who served home cooked meals every night and tried to keep nutrition an important part of my sisters and my own lives. When I was 14, my mom inherited some money from my grandmother who passed away. The cost of living was beginning to be too much so we decided to move to Manitowoc. Moving was a huge culture shock, going from a very active community that always had youth opportunities and things going on to a town that didn't even have a community center was different.

My first year at McKinley really sparked the passion I have for food and plants.  I was given the opportunity to participate in a program called S.T.E.E.R, ( Success Through Empowering Experiences and Rigor). S.T.E.E.R was kind of the group of kids that all the other students were envious of. T From ropes courses to volunteer to projects to just having fun. The program, which I still participated in this year, really has taught me to work hard then play hard and that no matter what if you try your best the outcome you get will be the best you could've gotten. When I came into S.T.E.E.R we had just gotten our first greenhouse, shortly after I was able to attend the Wisconsin Food Summit which really got me interested in the food movement. In my life, I plan to do and change many things. I want to change what people view as important and I truly want most people on this planet to live a life that they are happy with which I feel right now only a small part of our population is doing. I have always been very into politics and the Food Leader program has really shown me how political the food movement really is. The skills I've learned in this program really don't stay within it. I will use these skills in my own life and community. I think the program has given me a very good basis and outline on the steps I need to make change, within myself, my community and others. Although the program is food/plant driven I think anyone who wants to do something in their community or do something for themself would greatly benefit from the things I've learned here. I think being the youngest in the program I would have to say experiences like this are critical for our youth. In high school, kids really need to be given a lot of opportunities and experiences to get a feel for their passions. It is so important for our youth to find their passion and want to do something about it. If we had a community full of people doing things every day that they loved I think the world and people in it would a lot happier place. It is so important for us to be having the conversation about what's wrong with our society, what can we change or do better, how can we be able to sustain ourselves? I think the food leader program executes this well and really gets people thinking. This year I was given the opportunity to work with Riverview Elementary, a pre-k and kindergarten school. I was able to work with them on creating a mosaic for the wildlife themed playground and we are currently working on creating a riverbed with a water garden. They currently have about four playgrounds, the wildlife playground, a sand dune, and still about a whole football field of space not being utilized. Bouncing around ideas we talked about some raised beds and greenhouse being installed there. They loved the idea and we are now coming up with a floor plan of how that will look and where things would go, what materials we will need etc. and in a few weeks, we want to start figuring out a program that revolves around the gardens. Students from McKinley and myself would go over there a few days a week to do planting, check on plants, do some cooking and eating, and just really get into talking about and experiencing food and plant culture. I think the food leader program really helped me for planning with this and making connections. I hope for my project to be a huge success and really get young minds thinking about how cool and important eating and growing is.

MEET JESSICA TRUE - 2017

I didn’t set out to be a food activist. After years of living in the city and working for a giant corporation, all I wanted to do was get out of the rat race, grow my own food, and be more self-sufficient. While living in Denver, I immersed myself in the local food movement, volunteered for an urban CSA farm, and studied permaculture and herbalism. During that time, I also became committed to supporting local farmers and disconnecting from factory farms and processed food corporations. 

A few years ago, my husband and I moved to Racine County, WI. Now we have plenty of space to grow fruit, vegetables, and medicinal herbs, but we miss the energy and enthusiasm of the local food community in Denver. People told us that if we couldn’t find the community we were looking for, we should build it. I joined the Food Leader program to learn about community organizing around food and to connect with other food leaders in the area.

I’m working with my friend and fellow food leader, Colleen Patterson, on a mission to build connections between people and the Earth through teaching permaculture, growing food and herbs, and sharing stories and skills. Our first project is to create permaculture training opportunities and demonstration sites at a Montessori school in Racine.

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