Great news! After much work and thoughtful input from many sectors of our community, we have published our revised Food System Master Plan and a summary of its key concepts. If you would like to share with people what is happening to create a healthy food system in our region, and what our vision, goals, and needs are – then this is an excellent resource for that information. These documents will also be always be available under the Articles and Resources tab on this site, The documents will be periodically updated.
Here is a link to the summary: Executive Summary of Food System Master Plan
And here is a link to the complete document: Food System Master Plan revised November 2013
Cookie Coleman, President of the Red River Coalition of Community Gardeners was chosen by Mutual of Omaha as a semi-finalist for a national ad. You can see the press release at:
And you can view her video describing the youth garden program at Valencia Park Community Garden at:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyCF2NREMU0&list=PL-ZWOp3HFbATgSZx9l7bOUiNbNFDRJDI0&index=5
by Leah Miller
After listening to my friends, Grace, Cookie, Erma and Laura talk about all the cool stuff going on with the kids at Valencia for the last three years I finally broke down and said I’d come. After going for the last two Thursdays I’m really sad that they don’t meet today (the kids have some kind of conflict). I think I was hesitant to become involved because, even though I’m a teacher, my experience has been with pre-school and kindergarten ages. Imagine the feeling of pride I experienced when I got there and saw a former pre-school student “at large and in charge” of his group. He’ll be a senior this year and is confident and capable when it comes to leading the other students in his group. He, along with the others, use terms like julienne and chiffonade. I watched as one of the girls rolled up basil leaves then cut across the roll. I would have never thought of doing that and certainly didn’t know that it was called chiffonade. The first week they capably followed a recipe that they had been given then evaluated the product assessing such characteristics as texture, color, smell, and taste. The next week they were given access to certain ingredients and encouraged to make up their own dish. They neither needed nor expected any help from me. I wrote the recipe down as they measured, chopped, stirred and cooked all the while using cooking terms that would have been foreign to them at the beginning of the program. Upon completion we all tasted our product as well as that of the other groups, and they eagerly awaited the forthcoming comments! I left eager to see what the next time would bring and, now, I’ll have to wait another week!
by Karen P. Thomason
To witness the pure delight of children discovering buried treasures (potatoes) and distinguishing ripened from ripening green beans is a reward in and of itself. It is impressive and heartening to see high school-aged children assisting and facilitating beneficial and meaningful activities in the garden for and with younger children. You can find inspiration and impact amidst grit and sweat. Come and see!
by Annette Simmons
I attended a volunteer meeting on March 23, 2013 that was unlike any other volunteer meeting I’ve ever attended. We were a mixed bunch except that everyone was interested in good food and building a place, process, and logistics for local farmers to grow vegetables and sell them for profit, so we can buy “real” tomatoes (and beans, and eggplant, etc.) You remember what real tomatoes taste like, right?
WeGrowTogether invited us to think, and do. Not to “meet” – except for meeting each other – there was very little that resembled a normal meeting. We talked about who plants the food, harvests the food, packages the food, we knew who would be eating the food and then who and how compost got back to nourish more planting. It was that simple. After a break, we got in groups and came up with whatever project we wanted, how we wanted, where we wanted and when we wanted.
We had lunch, visited and went home. Usually after a planning meetings you have another planning meeting and then another planning meeting…
Instead we got with the program. In my group Paulette Doiron, a medical student said she wanted to organize free health screenings and recruited three students from the Family Medicine Program to help. Mary Dumars suggested a food demonstration, and then Paulette said Sankofa Gardens (a community garden behind LSUMed Center) would be celebrating Earth Day on April 27, 2013. I offered to find some locally grown veggies – we left it open since we didn’t know what we could find – and that’s it. We were done. Jimmy offered to find a place to meet once before the event on April 6 to make sure we had our act together but other than that, a few emails and the rest we organized amongst ourselves.
On April 27, 2013 some of us (Michele) arrived early (7:30 a.m. on a Saturday!) to help Leia set up tables. Then the med students arrived. I found some locally grown mixed mesclun lettuce generously donated by Mary Nesbitt out of her local farm Keatchi Acres. A new recruit Jon Valdez (in the air force but an expert in nutrition) came up with a healthy salad dressing to make on the spot. Francine inspired us by suggesting we offer a salad dressing recipe and Jon provided a poster board comparing “ready made” and homemade salad dressing You can’t even pronounce some of the crud they put in Ranch Dressing. Mary Dumas brought some apples when she came to work at our table and brought tomato plants for the garden. Brookshires donated a gift card for produce including radishes, carrots, cilantro, and snap peas.
As people arrived to help Leia dig the dirt, and plant seeds and plants in Sankofa’s community garden, they wandered over to check out the medical screenings and food. While they were there, many checked their blood pressure and blood sugar. The salad and salad dressing was so good one person asked for thirds and everyone had a good time.
Amazing what you can do when no one is “in charge”…and everyone is interested in good locally grown food.
Annette Simmons grows tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, and carrots. She makes her living delivering speeches and training based on her four books including The Story Factor named one of the “100 Best Business Books of All Time.” She lives in the Highland area of Shreveport. Learn more at www.annettesimmons.com