The Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP) and Growing Green Program are changing the food system and the lives of youth in Buffalo and Western New York. Growing Green, our youth development and urban agriculture program, employs about 50 teens each year to create solutions to food injustice and the lack of access to healthy food in our communities. Youth in the program grow organic vegetables, fruits, herbs, chicken and fish on three quarters of an acre in a residential neighborhood in Buffalo, New York. Growing Greeners also work to get our food into our local food system through weekly farmstands and our mobile market vehicle, and by selling added products through our youth enterprises.
With a strong focus on youth leadership and empowerment, Growing Green teens learn about the global food system and how to help build healthier communities, take care of our environment, and create local jobs through building and promoting an equitable and sustainable local food system. Youth learn to be community educators, participate in policy discussions about the food system, and plan local food events for the public.
In the summer of 2011, Growing Green sent a delegation of youth to the Rooted in Community National Youth Food Policy Summit to create and proclaim the Youth Food Bill of Rights (LINK www.youthfoodbillofrights.org). Our youth were so excited to join this national effort that they hosted a follow up youth food policy event in Buffalo several months later in Buffalo to establish a regional plan to address several points in the Philadelphia document. Through these ways and more, Growing Green youth are learning to be leaders of change and part of the Food Justice movement.
My name is Christian Terrero and I’m 17 years old. My first day at Growing Green and MAP, I was like, “what am I getting into?” Now, thinking through the three years I’ve been with MAP, I realize I made the right choice – it has become more than just a job to me. For my first two years, I worked as a farmer at MAP. I enjoyed the work because it was it was something totally new for me. I knew that seeds were planted in the ground, but I had never grown anything myself, mostly I had only seen it on television. I learned about composting—how it is made and why we need it to grow our food organically, because if you don’t want to use chemical fertilizer, you have to do something to give the soil nutrients.
I also learned about aquaponics, which is the fusion of hydroponics and aquaculture. Aquaponics creates natural ecosystem where fish produce waste and plants clean the water by using the waste as fertilizer. I had never heard of aquaponics before my job at MAP, but after working with Growing Green on our two aquaponics systems I can talk about it proudly—I have even taught our US Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, and the Conservation Director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium about the system.
Now in my third year at MAP and Growing Green, I’m part of Growing Green’s Outreach Team. We make posters, plans community events and write blog articles to promote local food and tell people how they can support food justice. I am also learning about graphic design, color theory and how to tell people what you can communicate through art. Before this, I had no clue how design and colors are used to get people’s attention and get across messages.
Not only has my knowledge grown, my personality has grown as well. I am no longer the shy young man who rarely said a word. I have learned to overcome my fear of speaking in front of people, now I am a teacher of many things. My time at MAP has turned me into a leader. I think MAP and Growing Green will continue to not only push me but help other young people reach greater heights in what they can do.
– Christian Terrero, Growing Green Outreach Intern
Growing Greem Anthem
We are trying to be some better teens with new routines, u know what I mean?, it’s all about Growing Green!
We got beets over here and mint everywhere, if the community want to grab some it’s all to share so don’t be scared…
And it ain’t no need to panic ‘cuz everything we grow is all organic, pesticide free!!
from the beans to the carrots to the rest of the crops, man we grew all that on seven adjacent lots,
now our farmin in the city might seem like a lot, it’s definitely not a little,
from the flower gardens in the front to the tomatoes and fish we are raising in the middle-oh yeah Im talking about aquaponics!
Now if u trying to be different we respect your style, makin real changes is going to take a different approach ya hear?
giving youth power to be leaders ain’t really nothin to fear ’cause a young person can make a great difference in just one year
learnin to make the changes that we the youth wanna see, growin healthy food for others and bringin justice in the form of a J-O-B
And now we give our respect to Diane, Jesse, Zoe and Erin ’cause they help us with all the problems that we are facin’
We still got more work to do, if you readin this that means you too. Learn to respect our earth, and please lets stop all the violence and hatred
come on yall lets work together the revolution will be cultivated!