2020: A Year in Pictures

 

by Christine Noelle, Director of Operations & Development

Hello Foodies, Gardeners, and Friends!

As we finally approach the end of this historic year, I am seeing a lot of people who cannot wait to forget 2020 and start fresh in the New Year. While I too am looking forward with hope for a better year, I don’t want to forget the lessons this past year taught me and I want to take a moment to acknowledge the amazing things that happened along the way. There were so many bright points amidst the chaos and uncertainty and I think it is important that we remember both the good and the bad. The things that gave us hope in times of darkness are powerful and we should remember to intentionally incorporate these things into our lives so that we are more resilient in the next hard season we face. So, I wanted to take a moment to look back at the amazing moments that VGI shared among staff and community.

The age old mantra that a picture is worth a thousand words is still true, so enjoy a Year in Pictures with minimal interruption from me! Happy New Year! Stay safe, healthy, happy, and wiser than yesterday!


Victory Garden Blitz

Despite having to drastically cut back on volunteer shifts and rising supply costs as well as many other unique challenges, we managed to pull off the Blitz once again, building another 500 raised garden beds across the city this spring!

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Victory Garden Urban Farm

We leaned in very hard to our 1.5 acre farm in Harambee this year. This plot of land not only helped us grow so much food for the community but was also a safe, outdoor greenspace in the middle of the city that helped us gather our thoughts and maintain some social aspects of our org in a safe, responsible way.

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Farmstand

We still ran our Free Roadside Farmstand this year and with our new kitchen we were able to preserve much of the harvest!

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Farmhouse

After two years, we finally finished up the major renovations on our Farmhouse early in 2020 and were able to have an Open House to show off the classroom and kitchen space just before Covid. Throughout the year, this space has allowed us to preserve food and even host community dinners by serving out the windows of the kitchen and eating socially-distanced style at the farm!

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If you loved seeing all the incredible local food and community building happening in these pictures, please consider an end-of-year donation to VGI! Every dollar donated helps to fund more food grown and given away, more gardens built, more mentoring opportunities, and more grassroots community work in Harambee!

Donate!

 

Cooking with Kids: It’s Not as Scary as You Think!

by Jay Johnson

As the Youth Program Coordinator at VGI, I have the privilege of working with young people and teaching them how to grow and cook food.  Every Tuesday and Wednesday throughout this past school year I cooked with about 15 elementary school aged children at their after-school club. To many of you, that probably sounds like a nightmare. I mean, fifteen third graders with knives and hot stoves?!? Even though it sounds like an absurd idea, I have learned a lot from young people and cooking with them.

  • Imperfection is OK: When we watch those recipe videos on Facebook  they always have the perfect amount of ingredients, it comes out perfect, and it looks tasty. While there are recipes for food, often young people get super excited to make things like blueberry pancakes and overestimate the amount of baking soda needed, or are underenthuised to make things like a black eye pea salad because they hate one veggie that is in it. Needless to say every recipe is a new adventure. Although things may not turn out as planned, such as bean burgers falling apart or finding out accidentally adding spinach to the black eyed pea salad doesn’t taste bad, we find what matters most in the end is the experience and the memories.
  • Young people enjoy the agency cooking gives them:  Agency is defined as the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. Oftentimes young people, particularly elementary aged young people, do not get a chance to make their own choices. Especially at school! School environments tend to be a sit-and-get environment where young people are told what to do pretty much all day. Within reason, I ask students what are some dishes that they would like to make, and because of that we have made things like veggie soup, quesadillas, and guacamole! Having the say in what they cook has students far more engaged in their recipes and eating the food they make.

  • Young people are really proud of what they make: I can not tell you how many times students have asked me if they could bring some of the food they made home for their family to try or see if they can run some down the hall to their favorite teacher! Even if the food looks or tastes less than spectacular, young people take pride in the food they have made and want to share with others.

  • Kids really love to try new things:  Growing up we probably all were picky eaters. Our parents threw a plate of those gross looking vegetables and sauces in front of us and we adamantly refused to eat it. When children are involved in making and cooking food, I see they are more willing to try new things. For example, when we make vegetable trays, instead of the usual vegetables I will throw in a vegetable like a radish or instead of tortilla chips I will substitute pita chips for dips we make. Since they were involved in the prep of the food it is a lot easier to convince them to try new things and ask for them again.

 

Overall, just as much as I have taught young people about cooking and preparing food, they have taught me equally as much.  From them I have learned, food is a great way to link generations and learn more about yourself and others.  If you are interested in more resources about cooking with children feel free to reach out to me at jay.johnson@victorygardeninitiatve.org.