In 1979, John Musser embarked on an expedition into the rugged far reaches of America’s southern neighbor to visit Mexican orphanages, where he witnessed both hungry children and food waste.
Upon his return, Musser founded the Texas-based non-profit Aquaponics & Earth and stepped up to the challenge of helping orphans in Mexico and across the world secure adequate nutrition. Through hardware and education, Musser’s organization enables orphanages to become self-sustaining, freeing themselves from dependence on food aid.
Though students are expected to learn about sustainable farming when volunteering at the University of Washington Farm, for some, their volunteer experience cultivates confidence, leadership skills, and friendships within a close-knit community of students who just enjoy gardening and sharing wholesome food.
The UW Farm owes its beginnings to a group of graduate students who wanted to garden, says Rachel Stubbs, farm coordinator for the Center for Urban Horticulture (CUH). With that humble start in 2004, the farm has grown to become the campus center for the practice and study of urban agriculture and sustainability. Though it is only a third of an acre on the main campus and half an acre at CUH, “people think it’s this huge thing,” Rachel says.
What began as an environmental studies project in 1999 at Dickinson College has evolved into a flourishing organic farm. From a handful of eager student gardeners, who began with a small garden plot on campus that grew into a half-acre plot, gradually the program grew as it attracted greater student interest, says Matt Steiman, assistant manager of production for the farm.
Today, the farm sits on 50 acres of land, in Boiling Springs, Pa.—about six miles off campus—that was donated to the college in the 80s. When the students approached the college administration, they were met with a great reception, says Steiman, with the only stipulation being that the farm had to be educational.
There’s a lot to the Stephen Ritz story. As told in rapid fire by the man himself the whole quickly disperses like an exploding star. He’s a kid from the South Bronx, the world’s oldest 6th grader. As an athlete in a different life he spent time in NBA camps. For a spell he would consume two-dozen eggs a day. Yes, he has had a critical health issue – more than one even. “I would have eaten myself to death,” he says letting the words hang in the air. He is high energy. He is a teacher. He is a parent. He is the originator and driving force behind an agriculture educational project called The Green Bronx Machine.
The following is a post by Mary Lissone, a veteran gardener and one of the first to be recruited by longtime friend Karen George to help set up the Westchester Urban Farm (WUF) in Los Angeles, CA. Lissone provides advice, content and design for the project, communicating the WUF story in multiple formats to get people excited.
As with all journeys, a reason for taking the first step is always needed. None could have been more earnestly felt than one mother’s wish to help rehabilitate the reputation of her son’s local high school.
Much was already in progress – in 2011 it became a magnet school, Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnet (WESM), specializing in Aviation & Aerospace, Environmental & Natural Science and Health & Sports Medicine; but it was receiving little attention as most of the community had already “decided” on its image and nothing short of an ET landing and benediction would change it. Even the impressive solar panel project in the parking lot (highly visible) didn’t seem to elicit any response.