Kuumba Tre-Ahm Community Garden hosts Food Sovereignty Action Day Sat. May 18th
|By Pascal Sabino, Environmental Health and Wellness Editor, The Real Chi & Industry Pathways 2018 Cohort|
Kuumba Tre-Ahm Community Garden will be hosting a Food Sovereignty Action Day at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 18. The event, organized by Advocates for Urban Agriculture, will bring together community members to volunteer at the garden while also supporting local food sovereignty goals.
The food sovereignty movement asserts that people have a right to define and maintain their own systems of food production, especially in communities that lack affordable and healthy food options.
"This area is basically a food desert," said founder of Kuumba Tre-Ahm Community Garden, Gina Jamison, about the Garfield Park neighborhood where the event is taking place.
The Food Sovereignty Action Day is an opportunity for neighborhood residents to learn about urban agriculture by getting their hands dirty at the garden and cultivating healthy, culturally relevant foods using sustainable methods. Food Sovereignty Action Days are also intended to strengthen the urban agriculture community by building new connections and expanding the network of people involved in food policy.
Jamison has a list of projects at the garden for volunteers to help with. She wants participants to help her replenish the raised beds with fresh soil and to clean up wayward litter in the garden.
But she says the first step in preparing the garden for growing season is to lay down a new layer of wood chips and pine straw. "I call it putting down fresh new carpet," Jamison said. "Once it's spread, and you smell the pine needles, and you smell wood from the trees and the branches and the leaves — it's the most invigorating thing in the whole wide world."
Kuumba Tre-Ahm Community Garden is part of the Garfield Park Garden Network operated by the Garfield Park Community Council. The garden is named after Kuumba, the sixth principle of Kwaanza, which represents creativity, and Tre-Ahm after her grandchildren Trevon and Ahmari who helped her with the first raised beds at the garden.
By encouraging healthy eating, Jamison wants the garden to engage young people and teach them to take control of the decisions they make about their bodies. "If you eat healthy, your body's gonna be healthy. And then we will start making healthy decisions. Because that's what's really going on with our culture and the nation. We're not making good decisions."
The garden partners with Willa Cather Elementary School for a Gardeneers program that allows first and fourth graders to participate not only in their school's garden, but to also tend the plants at Kuumba Tre-Ahm. The program reserves six of the 24 raised beds at the site for the schoolchildren.
"When I see the young, the elementary students take a seed and then come up with a tomato or cucumber or squash, and to see that grow from a seed to something that they can eat at the end of the program,” Jamison said."That's the most satisfying thing that we could accomplish."
Kuumba Tre-Ahm Community Garden is located at 2908 W. Warren Blvd, Chicago, IL 60649. No gardening experience is necessary, and those interested in participating are welcome to drop in or register here.