Maire is Learning to Budget Her Money

By Maire

My profession during the budgeting workshop [provided by The Service Collaborative of WNY Opportunity Corps] was a barista and my salary was $1,900 a month. The challenges I had staying on budget were that I would overspend on things before I even paid my bills. The expenses I needed to watch more closely were gas and entertainment.

In comparison to how I manage my paycheck [in real life], it's completely different. I don't spend my paycheck at all, I just put it in my savings account. At the moment, I don't pay any bills.

To make sure I have enough money, I make certain that I save my money for anything really super important that I might have to buy. I also make sure I really want something before I buy it so that its not an impulse buy.

My Market Experience

By Win

My visit [to the Elmwood Bidwell Farmers Market] was very educational. I've been to markets like that when I was little, with my mom, but then we stopped. I used to love it because I personally love fruits and she would let me choose a quart box of anything I wanted and I would be the littlest, happiest girl in the world. So it was like a flashback and it was cool to see it again.

I learned about many different farms out there and what they did to care for their animals if they grew them and what they did for their crops. I learned many fruits and vegetables' seasons. It was pretty surprising to me. I saw many things I have never seen or eaten before in my life.

What surprised me was that an employee was very educated and filled in on the company/farm. She had an answer to every question we asked her except one. "What are some challenges you face?" She was only and employee so that's understandable. I didn't really have any expectations. It was overall a cool and educational trip to the market.  I would change the weather, add stone paths, and have water bowls for the dogs.

Sophia's Learning to Budget

By Sophia B

At the Budgeting Workshop [provided by The Service Collaborative of WNY Regional Opportunity Corps], my role was a cab driver. My salary was $2,235 per month which, event though I was single and no one depended on me, I had a hard time budgeting and saving money.

The challenge was whether to eat out or make my own meal. Even though I watched my budget carefully, I still didn't afford as much money as I wanted in my savings account.

The expenses that I had to watch more closely were entertainment and clothing.

I am able to manage my paycheck [in real life] because I don't have to pay rent or mortgage. When I need to make sure I have enough money for everything, I need to budget beforehand.

Messiah's Experience Budgeting Money

By Messiah M

Last week Monday, MAP had a Big Group Meeting (BGM). [Opportunity Corps members from The Service Collaborative of WNY visited]. We learned about budgeting money.

We had fake professions and salaries. We also had fake responsibilities and homes. My pay per month was $4,100. I rented a one bedroom apartment and rent was $1,600. I also had a vehicle I paid $450 per month for and I attended college so that was another $100 per month.

One of the challenges I had with this was trying to keep money to feed myself or have money after costs. I also wanted to be sure I was spending a lot on unnecessary things.

All of my expenses were good except somethings I thought I wouldn't spend as much money as I did.

Guess What Buffalo's First Commercial Enterprise Was

By Birch

This weekend, I took a trip to the farmers market. This is my second year interviewing the vendors at the Elmwood Bidwell Markers Market.

Last year, around this time, it was about as cold and consequently there were not as many people or vendors. Most weekends before they went indoors [for the season] there would be three vendors. They'd look up with shining hopeful eyes at a group coming over. We were tasked with crushing any glimmering dream of business under our pleasant little interview questionnaire. I expected this year to be more of the same. I was happily surprised when I got there because there were about nine vendors. I had a great time getting to know a guy from Black Squirrel Distillery. Despite the cold, he was energetic and cheerfully shared his business with a couple of teenagers. When we asked him what his biggest challenge was, he, after answering, told me and Mari what Buffalo's first commercial enterprise was: BOOZE!

Farmhouse Construction Week 3: A blanket of snow

Last week's snow storm coved the farm in a blanket of snow, hiding the mud and halting work for a few days. It's possible to work outside when it is snowing, or cold, or windy but not all three at once! While the storm raged, and icy wind blew, lots of planning happened. Construction projects in cities have many seen and unseen obstacle to plan for - electric lines (and poles!), tight building quarters, and unmapped potential sewer lines to name a few. 

For the farm, winter is a time for fields to rest. The ground is frozen, and we don't want to disturb the biota that lives within the soil structure. Below, recently planted garlic beds are insulated by the snow. Milder temperatures next week should mean activity will resume on the farm, with only a short break for Christmas.

Staying on Budget

By Levi

Last Monday, at MAP's weekly Big Group Meeting, we went over budgeting by pretending to have a career with expenses. [This activity was led by Regional Opportunity Corps Members from the Service Collaborative of WNY].

My profession was an accountant and I had a salary of $4,000 per month. Some of the challenges I had staying on budget were having to choose between luxury versus necessities, like buying new clothes or continuously going out for dinner. An expense that I need to watch more closely is my internet/cable bill which comes up to $200 a month!

What Surprised Me Most About the Farmers Market

By Cameron

My name is Cameron. When I went to the Elmwood Bidwell Farmers Market, my visit was good and bad.  It was cold and windy. Most people there were friendly, too. What I learned from going to the farmers market was there are many stands, different vendors, and not everything you would see at a grocery store. What I saw was a lot of fruits and vegetables, different farmers, and vegetables and fruits we grow at MAP. What surprised me the most was there were not a lot of things that are not in season. There were vendors who sold all the same things, mostly fruits and vegetables and there were only three meat vendors. My expectations weren't much, but I would like to see more vendors and different varieties. One thing I would do to attract more customers is to have a big sign saying, "Farmers Market." Secondly, sell things most people would buy and third, accept all payment forms.

My Visit to the Market Was Quite Interesting

By Ingabire

When we went to the Elmwood Bidwell Farmers Market, on Saturday, my visit was quite interesting. It's not my first time there but it was good to go back. The farmers market is always interesting because you never expect what you are going to see or who is going to be there. Every time I go to the farmers market, I learn that it's good to be considerate about what people want as a seller and, it's good to have labels [on your products] and also it's good to have a good presentation of your stand or market because those kinds of things are what makes the consumer come and consider what you are selling.

The thing that surprised me is that there were a lot more sellers than last time I went. I was expecting less like the last time but I saw more instead. The reason there were less last time I went there is because it was actually winter and the seasons are the most important thing that tends to affect farmers.

I wouldn't change much of anything to the farmers market, but if I had to, I would like them to always have free samples at each stand.

Farmhouse Construction Week 2: The farm landscape changes

Recognize this view looking into MAP's farm? The sidewalk leading into the farm was previously hiding under a foot of soil. (This explains why it was impossible to install trellis posts into the ground here!)

The farm landscape seems to change daily as the space is prepared for actual construction. During this initial phase of work a priority is protecting the farm's growing spaces and soil. For the most part this means putting up fencing and caution tape around spaces to keep people (and machines!) out. In some spaces we have moved the whole field to protect the soil. The photos above show the Mass-Ave field carefully being piled up so the high quality soil will not be trampled by cranes and trucks.

Eventually, there will be a driveway on the Shield Street side of the farm that will direct storm water into a large cistern. An 18 inch deep trough was dug to prepare for this, and we fenced off fields and trees to keep our growing spaces safe.

It may seem as though the farm is a big muddy mess right now - and that is totally true! Lots of soil has been relocated from the large area that soon will be the driveway to build up other areas of the farm. The photo below shows the area in front of the wash station, which will be a gravel loading area, and how much soil was built up around it.

Remember the big maple tree that had to be cut down? Wood chips from that tree are now spread around the perimeter of our Winter St field. The fine wood chips will breakdown over the winter, adding valuable nutrients and organic matter to our growing space.

The next steps of the construction project will start to put the messy space back together. The last piles of trash will be carted away - the amount of material taken away is mind boggling!), a new fence will be installed around the whole Mass-Ave property, and the building basement will be dug out. So, don't get used to how our farm looks right now, because it will all change before Christmas!

Isabella on a Teacher's Budget

By Isabella

At the budgeting workshop [provided by The Service Collaborative of WNY Opportunity Corps], I was a middle school teacher and I made $3,500 a month. The challenges of staying on budget was gas and things like food and clothes. I needed to watch extra expenses like heat and more closely.

This exercise compares to how I manage my paycheck [in real life] because I want to just save it for when I get older, but it's hard to not buy things I see in stores sometimes. I have no bills now so I just try not to spend a lot of money except when i'ts for necessities or something I really want.

Farmhouse Construction Week 1: Deconstruction

This fall construction to build MAP's new farmhouse commenced with deconstruction of the little pink house. In the month leading up to knocking it down all the salvageable materials were removed. 

Tearing the old house down happened one rainy morning in October. It took a backhoe a few hours to rip the building apart. 

Debris was cleared away the next day leaving such a small looking vacant lot. 

The projects next steps include cleaning up the farm landscape and installing a new fence. A major piece of this included removing the giant maple tree in the background of the photo above. You can see how the trunk of this beautiful, but giant, tree is significantly leaning to the left. If it fell down it would cause major damage to MAP's property, as well as the neighbors houses. 

Ingabire's NESAWG recap

By Ingabire A

On November tenth we took off from Buffalo to Connecticut for a NESAWG conference. This conference always takes place each year in a different state. You might ask yourself ‘what did we discuss at the conference?’ The concern is food justice. People from different states come together and meet with each other to discuss food system issues.

I was so excited because I’ve never been to Connecticut. So, my co-workers and I took a six hour drive but, it was fun because we talked, laughed and got to know each other more. We didn’t just drive, we had to take a lunch break and also bathroom break.

As we got in Connecticut I was thrilled to see how beautiful the city was. We booked a hotel to stay in so as soon as we got there we went to the hotel, it was a good hotel. We drove six hours as I said but as soon as we got to Connecticut we didn’t rest, we had to get ready to go to our first conference session, which was held in the Hilton building in the evening.

The first conference session we went to was the one they were talking about the people of color. Everybody said their opinions about what they think people of color meant and we had to share ideas of what we thought it meant. I noticed that everyone who attended the conference was really into it and they were eager to learn, and they were also friendly.

 My thoughts of what I thought about our first conference session are:

That it doesn’t matter where you are born or your color, what really matters is to accept people around you and know that even though you might be different we are all equal and the same. 

We spent forty five minutes in the people of color conference session and after we were done there we went to eat dinner. That was one fancy dinner I had for a while. After that we went to the hotel for the night.

The next conference session we went to in the morning was part of the Youth Track. I can say it was my favorite all five conference sessions I attended. There were youth from different organizations, as well as older people, but we all acted the same. We played games and got to know about each other and our organizations - we all had things in common we connected through food. I was so happy to meet those youth there because we came from different places. Some came from Ithaca NY, some from Brooklyn NY, Connecticut and others from Massachusetts and also Queens NY. It was so fun to find those youth there - we even followed each other on our social media.

At the conference I learnt about food justice, about the wicked problems that our foods go through in general. For more information I would advise you to go to the conference next year it will be held in Baltimore.

Thaint Talks with Weiss Farms at the Market

By Thaint T

The business I profiled is called Weiss Farm. There were three guys standing there and, at first, Dakota and I were scared to go up to them and ask questions. At first, they invited us to ask them questions but I saw that there were other customers. At their stand, they had grapes, eggplant, potatoes, peppers, gourds, acorn squash, apples, there's a lot! You can get their products at their farm stand and also the Lexington Food Co-op.
Image from Weiss Farm's facebook page
They told me the challenges they faced were bugs and weeds.

The workers/farmers there were really friendly. A lady came up to them and the guy greeted them with a, "Hello, ma'am." The products they have were presented so you can see everything, like it's not hidden in a corner.

During asking them questions, the guy cracked jokes and it made me laugh. It felt comfortable and fun.

Thaint’s NESAWG Recap

By Thaint T

On November 10th through the 12th my group, which was MAP Growing Green, and I went to Hartford, CT for the annual NESAWG 2016 conference. It was a long 6 hour drive from Buffalo, NY to Hartford, CT but we made it.

When I finally arrived, I went to my first session, which was the “colored people caucus.” There I had a partner to talk to about why we’re here and what we would like to learn from this NESAWG conference. Her name was Robyn and she went to Hamilton College. She told me that she was here because she had had road blocks with what she is doing and wanted tips from other people here to help get her through the road blocks.

Another session I went to was part of the youth track, the very first one the following day, November 11th. There, I just learned about what other youth organizations do in their own communities. I learned that a lot of them were similar to MAP, the organization that I’m a part of. They also have a farm/garden themselves that helps feed the people around their community.

Another session I went to was a youth talk. It was mainly about what problems youth believe that they have around their community and how or why they can change it. There, I met a youth that became my friend right away, her name was Davina, her and her organization is located in Ithica, NY, just 2 hours away from Buffalo. The problem she believes she has is that adults may seem to listen to youth but they never actually do. Davina wants adults to listen to youth more often.

To me, youth talks like these are what helps youth and adults connect and talk more often. That is why this youth talk was my favorite session of the conference, I interacted more with other youth and became friends with a few people. Not only did I interact with youth but I also interacted with adults. We just didn’t talk about problems and what we do, we also talked about our favorite candy to our favorite culturally traditional dish.

I would like to share that there are communities out there that are struggling with food and the access to it. I would like to share to Buffalonians that there are other organizations that are similar to MAP and have similar mission outside of Buffalo. From attending this conference I realized that people from outside of Buffalo care about food. I made connections and friends with other organizations. So, if MAP ever needs a helping hand, they’re only one call or email away. They can now be added to our stakeholder list as someone who supports our cause, project or mission. MAP is already doing a beautiful job, but it takes each other to become beautiful.

Tips for youth dealing with incidents of bias & discrimination

What can YOU do?

Here are some tips for dealing with racism and bias in your community. Remember, these are suggestions and you should only take on what you are comfortable with. Your safety is most important.


If you want to report a crime or fear for your safety, call 911 immediately.

If a situation becomes violent or if you think it might, call 911 immediately.


Who can you talk to? Who makes you feel safe?

Who are your allies? Who is supportive in your community? At school? At home? In Buffalo?

Think about those people in your life and look to them for support. Make a mental list and challenge yourself to consult your allies when you need them.

MAP Youth should ALWAYS feel comfortable talking with any of the MAP staff. Call, text, or email whomever you are most comfortable reaching out to. We are here for you.


If you experience an incident in public, either directed at you or someone else, the first thing you can do is look for another adult. Acknowledge that adult as a witness. Ask them for help.

If you are comfortable doing so, ask the perpetrator to stop. Say something like, "That is not appropriate, please stop it."

If you are comfortable doing so, position yourself between the perpetrator and the victim. Offer a distraction. Try talking about something else or introducing yourself as someone friendly.

Remember, if you fear for your safety, call 911 immediately.

Document what is going on. Who is around? What is happening? Where are you?

What can you do afterwards? Report the incident. Sharing what happened will help our allies understand what is happening in our community.

Your Buffalo City Councilmember is your ally. Contact your local representative with details regarding incidents in your district. An email only takes a few minutes to send. All councilmembers' contact info and a map showing who your rep is can be found here:


New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has initiated a state-wide toll-free hotline where people can report incidents of bias and discrimination. New York upholds the responsibility to protect all who are here, whether native-born or immigrant, whether documented or not. The hotline strengthens New York State's efforts. Contacting the hotline will not affect your immigration status.

New Yorkers who have experienced bias or discrimination should call the toll-free
hotline at (888) 392-3644 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday - Friday.

The FBI investigates civil rights issues.

To file a color of law complaint, contact your local FBI office by telephone, in writing, or in person. The following information should be provided:
  • All identifying information for the victim(s);
  • As much identifying information as possible regarding the subject(s), including position, rank, and agency employed;
  • Date and time of incident;
  • Location of incident;
  • Names, addresses, and telephone numbers of any witness(es);
  • A complete chronology of events; and
  • Any report numbers and charges with respect to the incident.
The Buffalo FBI office is located at:

One FBI Plaza (behind City Hall)
Buffalo, NY 14202
(716) 856-7800

You may also contact the United States Attorney’s Office in your district or send a written complaint to:
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
Criminal Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC 20530

National Fuel Meeting

By Maire E

It was around four in the afternoon when I walked into the downtown library for work, unaware of what we were going to do there. I met up with my fellow coworkers as we waited for Rebekah in the lobby. They reminded me that we were here for the National Fuel meeting. When Rebekah arrived we went in search of a place to sit, and have our own meeting - just Growing Green.

We found a place, settled down and immediately began a discussion on climate justice and what we thought of it. We broke down the term in order to grasp the full concept. This really allowed me to interpret my thoughts on the topic in a group setting. I always had a good idea of what the words meant to me, but to hear what others thought really gave me a different way to interpret the words by themselves and how they fit together.

Near the end of our work shift we were told that the National Fuel meeting was moved to later in the day and that we would not be able to go. However, we were able to go see and meet some of the protesters outside of the National Fuel Building. This showed how people are affected by climate change, and are fighting for justice. So, even though we were not able to go to the meeting, it was still great to meeting these people and see how dedicated they are to their cause, and standing up for what they believe in.

Pulling out eggplants

By Gabe C

One moment this fall I enjoyed the most was pulling out eggplants on Winter Street. Everyone in my group, but me, had a major problem with the dust that blew up from the newly exposed roots. When you pull the eggplants out of the ground wind blew dust from the roots into everyone's eyes. This gave me an odd sense of superiority where I felt extra productive. In the end, Levi washed his eyes and I took over pulling out eggplants for Dakota and Thaint.

By Levi B

It was a cold autumn morning on Saturday. Claire tasked me, Gabe, Dakota and Soliegh with pulling out the eggplants and collards greens. I didn't think about the random gusts of wind until IT happened.

As my coworker Gabe was pulling out a plant stormy winds swept through the areas and caused dirt from the roots to blow into my face. I brushed off all the soil, but my eyes began to burn. They stung so badly I felt as if someone was using a cheese grater on my eyes. 

I love sugar!

By Ingabire A

On Tuesday we had a guest speaker to tell us more about sugar. Her name was Kristen and she is a student at the University of Buffalo. She started out by asking us what we had eaten that day that did not contain sugar. Everybody went around saying what they had eaten that didn't have sugar in it. When my time came the first thing I said was: "I love sugar!" Everyone busted out laughing. I didn't answer the question asked, but I was being honest about how I feel about sugar.

When everyone finally finished, Kristen started telling us about sugar - the good effects that it has on people and the bad effects too. We had some difficulties with computers, so we had to gather together and look at the screen of a small laptop for her presentation.

Lastly, I really thought about my diet and am trying to decrease the sugar I eat.

Planning for the March Meeting

By Sophia B

We, the youth at the Massachusetts Avenue Project, are planning a meeting in March. This winter we will introduce to MAP staff, board and community members the initiatives we are working on, and to get them to join us to make positive change.

One of the initiatives that I have worked on is the Healthy Corner Store Project. This summer I was able to go canvassing and got the peoples point of view. While canvassing, I was able to translate to come people who didn't speak English. This made me feel honored. Asking people who are not familiar with the initiative was interesting because they were able to share with us what they go through and how healthy corner stores would help them. For instance, many people live near a corner store, and don't have a car, so they just shop at the corner store where the food is unhealthy. This is one of the reasons the March meeting is important.

Working on something as amazing as this made me feel that I am part of something bigger than myself. To me, that is priceless.

Speaker about sugar

By Thaint T

So, this was the second week of work - I forgot the exact date, but we were at the center. A speaker from UB named Kristen came during the second hour of work to talk about sugar. We were having trouble with the computer and projector so I wondered "how in the world will she have enough time for what she's here to talk about?" So, she ended up having about 45 minutes left and she just used her laptop. No one could see, so we ended up bunched like a pack of hotdogs. It was cold in the building anyways, so as hotdogs we warmed up a bit.

Kristen when through her presentation about sugar. We also went around telling each other what we ate that we thought didn't have sugar in it. Low and behold, everything that everyone ate contained sugar.

At the end of the presentation we did an activity. Everyone got a packaged snack product. We calculated how much sugar was in the snack, and measured that amount of white sugar into a cup. My snack was sugar free Red Bull. It didn't have any sugar in it, but I knew it had a sugar substitute. After this, I still haven't stopped eating sugar products though.

One cold afternoon

By Dakota P

It was a cold October afternoon when Isa, Levi, Thaint, Maire, Birch, Sophia and I had a work shift at the downtown library. Here is what we did that day:

First, we read an article on why they were raising the fuel rates, even though some people can't afford it. Then, Sophia and I acted as facilitators for the group. We discussed what climate justice and climate change means, and wrote our ideas down on a big poster sheet. After that, we had Birch be our note taker and Isa be the facilitator on what kind of questions we would ask the community at the January meeting that we are planning.

After that, we walked in front of the National Fuel Building and there were people who were shouting stuff like "this is cruel!" We joined in on the protest chanting "this is unfair!" and "this is cruel for raising the gas bill!"

Going to see Randi Zuckerberg at UB

By Isabella A

Last week I got invited to hear Randi Zuckerberg speak at the University of Buffalo Distinguished Speaker Series along with other coworkers and I was excited. I got driven there by Claire with Maire and Gabe. It was so cold, and when we got there I was really hyper because it was my first time at UB seeing a distinguished speaker. The stadium was so huge and I walked around before Randi spoke. I talked to the people that greet you when you walk into the stadium, and then went all the way to the top of the stadium and saw everything from above. I also went into the bathroom and saw a sticky note that said
"smile today is your day."
When I saw Randi speak it was cool because she was funny. She talked about an app called Zombies Run that makes you run faster because you think you're getting chased by zombies. She also talked about something called google cardboard where you put your phone in it and you don't have to touch your phone to play a game. I even sent in a question asking if she spoke to her belly button, but she didn't answer it. Overall, it was a great evening!

What has sugar in it?

The cup contains the amount of sugar in a can of Red Bull
By Messiah M

At my job we were sitting down. Then a lady came in. She didn't say much when she first entered. But the first thing she asked us was
what did you eat today that did not contain sugar?
What everyone didn't know is that nearly everything has sugar in it. She explained to us that vegetables, fruits and other healthy things have sugar in them. She also taught us all sugar isn't white and there are other varieties of sugar.

I learned that sugar can come from sugar cane and sugar beets. They are two different plants, but the sugar inside of them is the same and will taste identical after it's fully processed.

Getting to know each other better

By Cameron L

It was the first day of working at MAP this fall. A lady named Izzy introduced herself, and told us a little about herself like where she was from and what she did.

After all of us got settled and came in, she had us do an activity which involved a paper bag and a piece of paper. Then we had to draw a picture of the person in front of us without looking, not letting go of the paper or pen. At the end, we signed the picture we drew and gave it to the person.
Later, we did another activity. Next to our portrait we had to write five things about ourselves, but one of those five things had to be a lie. We had to introduce ourselves to another person, and they had to guess which was the lie. When all that was done, we knew each other better.

A typical Saturday on the farm

One Saturday at the farm, it was a typical morning of moving mulch. Ugh. Everyone working on the farm that morning was tired out and dragging their feet as they shoveled and transported what seemed like and endless number of wheelbarrows overflowing with the dirty tree guts.

Suddenly, Claire yells
It was as if the weight of the world was lifted off of our shoulders and the sun had come out from behind the clouds on the dreariest day of the century with the glorious command.

We finished emptying out last borrow with a newfound anticipation, and ran to the green beans with rejuvenated energy. We spent the rest of our newly exciting work shift happily chatting among the green been beds. In the final minutes before our shift was up, we got to top of the great day at the farm by bringing home a plethora of farm fresh vegetables.

43 grams of sugar in Skittles!

By Win T

Okay, so  there was a lady named Kristin from the University of Buffalo. She is studying dietetics and nutrition and made me see a type of food differently. Last week she came to my job at MAP and talked to us about sugar. She explained where sugar comes from, and how it is processed.

It amazed me how much sugar is in a pack of skittles. It made me love science even more than I already do.

The activity was informative and I really enjoyed it. It showed me the negative and positive effects of an everyday food item. A positive effect of sugar is that is provides us energy for our body. But, a negative effect is that too much can cause diabetes.

What have we done at MAP this fall?

By Mariama M

It was a Monday and after school, so everyone was kind of tired ya know?

So, a woman named Izzy had come to our workplace with activities to wake us up on the first day of work. She started off telling us about herself, but not too much. Then she handed these bags that had paper inside them - and that was it.

 So, we were all just wanting for her to instruct us on what to do. Then she says "we are going to be doing some drawings, but not of ourselves, but the person across from us." And we couldn't look inside of the bag while we're drawing either.

So, everyone's just trying not to look, and just joking and giggling around. Everyone was still trying to finish the drawings when time was called. A lot of the works were actually pretty good, and people were joking about how accurate the drawings were (which they weren't). But, it was a really fun experience to draw other people and then compare how you drew them and how they drew you.

So, all in all it was really fun and relaxing on the first day of work.

The faces of MAP youth 2016-2017

We started this fall's Growing Green program with an activity called Picasso Portraits led by Ismet Mamnoon. Each person had to draw a portrait of the person across from them but, you could not look at your paper and you couldn't lift up your pen!

What's growing in the garden | Fall 2016

All the rain we've had this fall has helped our garden recover from such a dry summer. There has been so much lush, green growth throughout the month of September, and so many fruits! Tomatoes, eggplant, sweet peppers and hot peppers have all been abundant.

 There is one large pumpkin slowly ripening. Every time we visit the garden we hope it is still there, and not smashed (which was the fate of last years' pumpkins). It is big enough to be a jack-o-lantern!
The potato tub is now home to carrots, which have been growing like crazy since they were seeded a month ago. Hopefully they will be ready to eat before winter!

The consumer has all the power

After today, a lot has changed about the way I feel about my food.

Since the 'Meet your farmer’ activity with Danielle, I definitely feel more confident about how to tell where my food comes from. Now I know that I can look at the packaging to see not only the nutrition facts, but also where the food was sources, and this information will help me to make more morally conscious decisions about what I am eating.

Danielle also taught us about the different terminology that describes certain foods. I learned the Halal meat describes meat from animals that leaved long, healthy lives, and were slaughtered humanly. Furthermore, kosher produces are healthy, regulated Jewish products that must follow strict guidelines. These were terms that I didn’t know before.

As a group, we discussed why certain people don’t eat specific foods for various reasons. For instance, some faiths don’t allow port to be eaten. More over, many people are vegetarian in rejection of animal cruelty. Along with these are so many more small, individual house rules that govern what and what not is eaten in every family.

Lastly, we did a group activity, in which I learned what kind of questions I should be asking to food producers about their products. Danielle stated: the consumer has all the power when it comes to what they buy.  
~ Peter R

The food system is more complicated than I knew

I have learned that the food system is much more complicated than I originally knew. I understood that there were food inequalities, but I was not aware of the mass scale that it effects people in their daily lives. I have learned about food deserts, and how MAP and community gardens are trying to change this, and bring produce and healthy foods to these areas.

Questions I ask food producers are:
Are your products organically grown?
Are they sustainably farmer?
Are you certified organic?
Where is your farm located?
Do you feel farm shares?
What do you grow on your farm in terms of produce?

I want to know what they do to the food and I don’t want to assume something that might not be true. ~Marie

What happens to food before it gets to me?

How I think about food changed because I want to know what process the food went through before getting to me. For instance, was it sprayed with insecticide? Is it organically grown? What was added to it before getting to me? I would like to know if it is affordable for me, and mostly, was my meat processed Halal or not?  ~Sophia