End of Year Reflections With the Land
As we close out for the year with our org-wide staff retreat, our team reflected on all the accomplishments of this past year. We are so proud that we were able to grow a new generation of Youth Leaders who are committed to learning urban agriculture and food sovereignty practices as Sprouts and Land Gourds.
This has been exciting because historically, youth leadership retention has been a struggle for us as well as other youth orgs in Camden especially as public spaces such as schools, job and family support are disinvested in – leading many families to leave Camden for healthier living opportunities or to seek stable employment. Youth have also historically been marginalized and are often forced into low-paying, low-skill jobs for corporations to support their families making extracurriculars outside of school difficult to maintain, on top of lacking adequate access to health care and emotional support. Being able to afford to pay competitive wages to our youth has been critical to alleviate their socioeconomic burdens.
It has been exciting to cultivate new leadership within intergenerational levels of community – from our neighbors to our elder growers. We were able to recruit 3 new neighbor growers, with more folks expressing interest in our land in upcoming years. We are also becoming a truly multicultural and multilingual space that supports Vietnamese and Spanish speakers, and bridges the cultural gap by allowing access to community via food and growing. We also acknowledged the incredible work of our youth to make all of this possible, who were doing multilingual outreach every weekend with us in the Spring so widen our reach within our immediate neighborhood – as well as running the CSA mutual aid program! We can see that our impact is speaking to community, as we are receiving more funding from individual donors for our CSA bags than ever before!
Last and not least, we are excited about the strong farm financial, management and physical infrastructure that we have built over the course of this year to maximize productive potential. We hope to continue strengthening these systems in the upcoming year. We are working to see where we can prune ourselves as well to really hone in on priorities, such as deepening community relationships and agroecology education.
About the Grantee
VietLead is a grassroots organization that strives to improve health, increase sovereignty, and develop Vietnamese leadership in solidarity through intergenerational farming; youth leadership; health navigation; policy advocacy; and civic engagement. Our Food Sovereignty and community garden program was built from seeing how food is an important part of how refugees practice self-determination.