McClymonds High School educational program
Beginning in March 2012, Planting Justice has been working with Jeremy Namkung's advisory course at McClymonds High School, which has been discussing issues around healthy eating and access to food in their neighborhood. Using our Food Justice, Culinary Arts, and Permaculture Design curriculum, Planting Justice leads a weekly program for these 25 students at McClymonds High School, providing them with the opportunity to engage in sustainable practices of urban agriculture that promote community health, re-connect youth to nature through food, and expand access to fresh produce in this under-served community. The majority of these students have never had the privilege to experience the beauty and tranquility of a natural environment, have never grown a plant from seed, and have never harvested fresh organic fruit or vegetables. Every week, these students are building, expanding, and maintaining an organic vegetable garden and (hopefully in the future) a fruit orchard on their high school campuses, and they are experiencing the peace and inspiration that a thriving natural ecosystem provides.
Planting Justice designed this educational programming to be participatory so that students first have the opportunity to identify the problems they see in their communities and then to craft solutions that are most relevant to their lives. Planting Justice further utilizes a framework of empowerment throughout this educational programming so that students are gaining the skills, resources, and knowledge to create change in their communities and have the ability to make positive decisions in their lives. Planting Justice finds it truly important that the people who have little access to green outdoor spaces and who are struggling daily within an unjust food system are empowered to find grassroots ways to transform their neighborhoods and to inspire others to join them in building a more just, sustainable, and healthy community. In order to be culturally relevant and economically empowering for youth in Oakland, Planting Justice developed a curriculum in Food Justice, Culinary Arts, and Permaculture Design which uses arts, music, cooking, cultural folklore, digital media, and international people's histories. Planting Justice encourages students to look at food issues through a global and structural lens that engages cultural differences, builds cross-cultural alliances, and draws connections between their experiences in the garden and relationships to their ancestry, cultural heritage, and family traditions. Students learn about examples of social movements and local organizations fighting for food justice to situate their participation in the garden within broader social structures. Through understanding the historical frameworks that have produced Oakland's unique and exceptionally diverse communities, the Planting Justice educators have developed a culturally-relevant and empowering curriculum surrounding the garden at McClymonds High School.
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