Highlights from the Sustainable Agriculture & Food System Funders (SAFSF) Forum

Three Leichtag Foundation staff members attended the Sustainable Agriculture & Food System Funder’s 12th Annual Forum held June 17-19 in Denver, Colorado. This conference gathered more than 200 funders from across the nation with a shared interest in economically viable, environmentally sound, and socially responsible systems of food production, processing, distribution and consumption.
Staff highlights from the conference include:

The Secret to Building and Sustaining Healthy Food Access Initiatives:  Older Adults!

The Atlantic Philanthropies and New York Community Trust presented a workshop on engaging olderadults in addressing healthy food access challenges in low-income food desert communities.  Older adults are an important and often overlooked resource in community engagement. They often have long a history with their neighbors, intergenerational relationships and a desire to give back…and they have time. In addition to being effective community ambassadors, older adults bring long-term sustainability to projects by taking ownership and continuing activities on their own accord. Through the Community Experience Partners initiative, 275 older adults brought 126 tons of fresh food into their low-income communities. The presenters urged the audience to consider: What can the nonprofit sector do to reach out to and successfully involve older adults in food access initiatives? To learn more, watch the short video by Community Engagement Partnerships on how engaging older adults to create change is a high-impact strategy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFR-VXbsK5w

Building Community While Growing Food

Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) operates 135 community gardens in low to moderate income neighborhoods throughout Metro Denver, providing community members with startup resources and ongoing technical assistance. One of DUG’s successful strategies has been to co-locate community gardens and school gardens. This provides engagement opportunities for students and their parents while also ensuring year-round maintenance of the garden by the community members — solving a problem that many school gardens face during the summertime. DUG’s facility is also a centralized hub for gleaning efforts, providing a 24/7 accessible walk-in cooler for community gardens members and volunteer gleaners to drop off produce donations for storage until hunger relief agencies can pick up the produce for distribution. The community cooler makes food donation convenient and easy, addressing the age-old issue of having a bumper crops of zucchinis or trees with too much fruit that ripens all at once. To learn more about this program, visit http://produceforpantries.com/. To learn more about DUG, visit: http://www.dug.org.

Using Hip Hop for Nutrition Education

The SAFSF forum was kicked off with a hip hop performance by Denver native, DJ Cavem. A true O.G. (Organic Gardener), DJ Cavem uses the power of music to reach youth with an unexpected message:  “teachin’ HIP HOP history and how to grow greens.” As Oprah tweeted last fall, “This genre creates lots of gangstas; why not gardeners? [DJ Cavem] is changing the way kids look at kale.”
Watch the video for DJ Cavem’s hit song “Wheat Grass” here: