In Southern New Mexico an organization is working to educate youth on the importance of creating a healthy, sustainable, and an affordable food supply in the region.
La Semilla Food Center offers a youth farm where students can volunteer their time in a community garden where they can plant and harvest crops.
“We just finished off with our summer crops and have our fall crops growing. We’ve got marigolds, beets, peas, carrots, spinach, turnips, radishes, as well as broccoli, and three different kinds of kale,” says Jonathan Lessing, Farm Manager, La Semilla.
The organization is working towards a basic understanding of food that they say may have been lost over the last few decades. La Semilla is doing this by working with students and families in the area.
“We work primarily with engaging youth to connect them to the land, each other, and their food, by rebuilding those foundational connections that have been a history of humanity,” says Aaron Sharratt, Director of Development and Administration, La Semilla.
To build that connection to the land, the group has developed a farm-to-school program with some area schools to build gardens and create beautification projects in the learning environment.
The group recently held a Food Day Event at Gadsden Middle School. The event offered hands on experience for students in planting crops, along with a food fair that educated kids on proper nutrition, farming, and the farm labor movement.
“Kids that are involved in some sort of gardening, farming activities or go and visit farms are twice as likely to make healthy choices in the cafeteria. They are twice as likely to try new foods, and they also eat more fruits and vegetables when they have had this kind of experience,” says Rebecca Wiggins-Reinhard, Farm to School Director, La Semilla.
This Fall, La Semilla Food Center will be harvesting crops like tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and sunflowers from the Youth Garden.
La Semilla Food Center helps provide support for area farmer markets, it offers volunteer opportunities, and provides an after school program for youth.