Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Movement building at Youth Day!

Over 140 youth from all over the Bay Area converged on the FoodWhat farm to spend the day learning how to grow, cook, and advocate for fresh, organic foods in their communities - and it was an incredible success!

Each year, FoodWhat partners with leaders from Rooted in Community and the UCSC Farm and Garden Apprenticeship to put on this movement building event that unites and educates regional teens about food justice.  In addition to providing educational workshops and delicious fresh food, the Youth Day event offers a platform for organizations statewide to share their voice with like-minded partners. Youth day offers a cross-cultural experience across geographic boundaries that creates unity between these partner organizations. These influential young leaders take this experience and learning back to their communities, families and peers.

The day starts in a HUGE circle, with FoodWhat youth leading the charge through team-building games and ice breakers. This sets the tone for a collaborative environment and starts the wheels in motion for youth to begin connecting across organizations and with the Apprentices. Once enough energy and momentum was built, the youth broke into groups and embarked on a Scavenger Hunt as a way to familiarize themselves with the farm, taste some farm fresh fruit, and begin to engage with concepts around food justice.

The scavenger hunt gets everyone moving and gave the FoodWhat youth an opportunity to flex their  leadership skills as guides. One of the highlights of the scavenger hunt was the Vision Tree--a manifestation of the Apprentices to physically show the food justice movement in a truly beautiful format. At the base of the Vision tree was an altar that paid homage to groups and individuals that have fought for justice over the years. The branches stretched out into pieces of string, where youth could hang a slip of paper that held their vision for food justice in the future. The Vision Tree was a powerful display and allowed the youth to soak in the experience in a meaningful way.

The scavenger hunt led straight into lunch, which was a feast of cultural dishes cooked by Brenda, a 2nd year Apprentice. Brenda said a moving Native American prayer that thanked the earth for providing us with such a bounty and then we dove in to an incredible meal! Everything was delicious.

After about an hour of eating, we started making the rounds through the workshops. Each youth was given a schedule, and they chose which workshops they wanted to attend throughout the afternoon. The Apprentices and FoodWhat staff offered an incredible array of activities from making your own lip balm, to fast food jeopardy, to making succulent gardens, to making your own farm fresh pizza! Each youth was able to find what workshop spoke to them and learn some new skills in the process.

At the end of the day, we all gathered on blankets to enjoy pizza, strawberry rhubarb pies courtesy of Pie Ranch, and a huge salad. The energy was high but contemplative as we heard from Maya and Gera from Rooted in Community about how youth are a powerful force that are changing the food system each day, each minute, with their actions. 

Thank you everyone for creating an amazing event!

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