(Healthy Kids Healthy Communities New Mexico, Spring 2014 Newsletter) -- Intuitively, a school edible garden seems like a logical way to expose children to fruits, vegetables, nutrition education, and the adoption of healthy habits.
In reality, school gardens are often short-lived projects that fall by the wayside without an organizational structure and people dedicated to ensuring their continued existence from year to year. Despite the initial excitement associated with the idea of creating a school garden, many teachers end up thinking they’re too much work and wonder what the point is … and who is ultimately responsible.
In southern New Mexico, La Semilla Food Center is effectively challenging the status quo. With an overarching mission to build a healthy and sustainable regional food system, La Semilla works with children, youth, and families to provide hands-on education and training to increase awareness around food issues. Aside from broad-based initiatives focused on agriculture, food policy, and economic development, La Semilla manages the establishment and maintenance of seven school gardens in the Las Cruces and Gadsden public school districts. As a fundamental part of their Edible Education program, La Semilla places service members with a group of teachers who then work collaboratively to integrate a comprehensive nutrition education curriculum into the classroom, school cafeteria, and weekly after-school clubs. Service members also conduct family cooking activities highlighting New Mexico grown produce, seasonality, healthier twists on common recipes, and easy food substitutions (such as honey for sugar). Edible Education gives students the opportunity to prepare many recipes from scratch, taste locally grown produce, learn about culture and food traditions, plant seedlings, and participate in fun miscellaneous activities like installing garden butterfly patches to attract pollinators. Continue reading here.
Alex Wilts, Las Crucs Sun-News -- [...] The garden club began at Valley View Elementary two years ago after the local organization La Semilla, whose goal is to establish and maintain school gardens, asked if it could create an after-school program to educate teachers, students and parents about food and nutrition using the already existing garden areas.
Maura Kochevar, the special education lead teacher for kindergarten, first and second grades at Valley View, said the club serves as a great learning opportunity for students.
"I think it is a good example in how it has helped the children become leaders and thinking about the school and giving back," Kochevar said. Click here to read more.
La Semilla has been featured in the independent Italian newspaper Il Manifesto as part of a feature focused on the book Ecoliterate and the work of the Center For Ecoliteracy.
Access the Italian-language article here.
The Spring/Summer 2014 Las Cruces Magazine issue contains two articles focused on community gardening and local food sourcing. Read the articles beginning on Page 51 of the current issue here.
Las Cruces Magaine, -- "Organizations like the Farmers and Crafts Market, Mountain View Market Co-Op, and La Semilla are keeping good food closer to home, and restaurants and stores like The Bean, Si Bistro, De la Vega's, and Toucan Market are helping them do it for a healthier and happier community." Read the entire spread here.
LAS CRUCES SUN-NEWS (Andi Murphy) >> There's not much growing at La Semilla Community Farm right now, but there's a lot of potential in the newly transplanted herbs and the seedlings in the hoop house.
"2013 was actually a really big year for being able to move into production because we have the water and the electricity," said Cristina Dominguez-Eshelman, co-director of La Semilla Food Center, which runs a 14-acre community farm in Anthony.
La Semilla is a nonprofit organization that began in 2010 with a mission to educate the community — particularly youth — about the connection between the land and their health. Continue reading here.
SLOW FOOD USA Blog Post by T
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KRWG (Anthony Moreno, Las Cruces, NM) -- [...] With food insecurity expected to rise in the state there are organizations that are encouraging more sustainable food options.
Aaron Sharratt, Director of Development and Administration at La Semilla Food Center located in Doña Ana County, says La Semilla is addressing the future of food insecurity by educating youth on sustainable food practices.
“The average food today travels over 1500 miles from Farm to plate. We know that with rising energy costs, with climate change, and water scarcity in the region that just is not a sustainable model,” says Sharratt.
The organization’s “Farm to School” program is one example where La Semilla holds educational sessions, plants school gardens, along with offering volunteer opportunities for youth to work at a community farm.
La Semilla also works to help promote local farmers markets. A growing number of farmers markets are now accepting Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) to help those who may be dealing with food insecurity. Continue Reading...