In many communities of color, individuals lack affordable and accessible healthy food sources. The result of this inequality is seen in increased health risk factors such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. For example, in Inglewood, nearly 48% of students are classified as obese. Considering these facts, and the predominance of fast food restaurants, liquor stores, and low quality chain supermarkets in the community, the Social Justice Learning Institute developed 100 Seeds of Change.
100 Seeds of Change
By activating home plots, schools, parks, and vacant lots with gardens, nutrition classes, cooking demos, and healthy living education, 100 Seeds of Change, is establishing a local-level food system. 100 Seeds of Change empowers community members to eat healthy, thus lowering their risk of diet related diseases. The produce grown on these mini-organic-farms is managed by a local community network, and is distributed at affordable rates. Utilized year round, the produce harvested from these gardens is made available to the larger community through community supported agriculture (CSA).
SJLI actively seeks out public/private partnerships to develop community gardens. SJLI can transform city parks, local churches, and vacant lots for the production of food. Garden sites are designed to facilitate community gatherings, and SJLI will conduct Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) classes on site. The SJLI health equity team will maintain the garden site. Produce harvested from the site will support the 100 Seeds of Change network.
In partnership with local school districts, 100 Seeds of Change supports K-12 common core programing, which includes science curriculum and hands on experience. By participating in school gardens, students gain: applied knowledge of scientific concepts, vocational training in urban agriculture, team building and leadership skills, and a rich understanding of environmental sustainability and nutrition. In partnership with a school, SJLI will build and integrate a garden onto the campus. SJLI provides the construction, and ongoing management of the garden and outdoor classroom, as well as, student educational experiences. Produce harvested from the garden will serve the 100 Seeds of Change network.
The planting of trees has multiple positive effects on the community, including: increasing access to fresh foods, combating the asthma and respiratory diseases created by the proximity of the LAX corridor, and reducing local temperatures caused by heat island effect.
One of the major environmental and community projects SJLI has accomplished is planting more than 200 shade and fruit trees within the parks and local schools of Inglewood over the last three years. Working in collaboration with TreePeople, SJLI has given away nearly 3,600 fruit trees to South Los Angeles residents and community members.
Tree giveaways are hosted annually in January. All residents obtaining a tree are provided with tree planting and care instruction, and have their choice of participating in a course on nutrition, urban gardening, or cooking.
Driven by a desire to develop a local food system and food economy, in just a few short years, the SJLI Health Equity team has made a tremendous impact on urban communities of color in Los Angeles.
Thanks to the efforts of residents and organizations like SJLI, Inglewood and South Los Angeles is developing a green-belt. With the planting of more than 4,000 fruit and shade trees, and the commitment of more than 1,000 volunteers, who pledged their time helping to develop a healthy food system, the 100 Seeds of Change initiative is half way to its goal of 100 home, school, and community gardens. Additionally, our recently developed CSA program is supporting more than 50 families with produce from these gardens.
Boys and men of color that participate in the Urban Scholars program will be exposed to careers in both the allied health and medical fields, and will gain valuable skills supporting careers in medicine and science. By the end of the program, students will know how to: conduct personal health screenings, conduct research, take and check someone’s blood pressure, understand how to read cholesterol levels, prepare and cook healthy meals, create a fitness routine, perform CPR, become community health advocates, and understand how to pursue a career in the allied health or medical fields.
As part of our 100 Seeds of Change Initiative, we now offer Tower Gardens by Juice Plus+. These aeroponic systems enable you to grow food year round, even within your own home. An extremely small footprint and low water requirement make them ideal for nearly any site. Grow leafy greens, tomatoes, strawberries, and more! Click the link below for more information and to purchase your own Tower Garden.