Looking at Ways to Make a Difference in the Community
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By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
JUNE 11, 2019 – At Hanes Magnet, seventh-graders have been looking at possible long-term solutions for problems connected to food and our environment.
Although looking into pesticides and herbicides was an obvious choice, seventh-grader Daniel Bryant said, he wanted to take another path.
The rate at which farms are disappearing is alarming, he said. Each year in the United States, about 1,800 acres are taken out of production.
“It’s a big amount,” he said.
So he decided to look into what could be done to support sustainable farming. After making contact with some area farmers through websites and social media, he invited two of the farmers – Natalie Sevin and Linda Hutchison – to come talk to Hanes seventh-graders about what they’re doing to support and promote the farming of root vegetables, Sungold tomatoes, broccoli and other vegetables.
He also organized a field trip to Nomad Farms in Tobaccoville.
Daniel is so excited about sustainable farms that, after first pursuing a career in engineering, he envisions becoming a farmer himself one day.
Three seventh-graders – Jack McSwain, Emmett Gamble, Ryan MacReynolds – formed a team to find ways to collect fresh produce that stores might discard and get it to people who needed it. They approached Trader Joe’s and the Food Lion in Lewisville.
“We asked for the produce that would usually be thrown out,” Jack said.
“They were very good about that,” Emmett said.
“It was very smooth,” Ryan said.
Earlier, students at Hanes had established a garden on the campus. The items grown there are distributed to those in need through HOPE of Winston-Salem, with HOPE standing for Help Other People Eat. The students made arrangements with HOPE to distribute the food they collected. Some people also contributed money, which they passed on to HOPE.
As of last week, they had collected nearly 2,000 pounds of potatoes, apples, squash, carrots, tomatoes and other vegetables.
Along with helping others, the students learned lessons that will serve him the rest of their lives.
“I have learned that communication is key in all relationships,” Jack said.
Emmett said, “It really opened my eyes that you can do so much by asking.”
If you ask, he said, there is always the chance someone will say “no,” but none of this would have happened if they hadn’t been willing to ask.
Ryan said he hopes the project can continue.
As part of the project, students had created tri-boards which were on display in the gym at Hanes on the day of the “Bug Bistro” at which teachers sampled foods made with such “sustainable” proteins as crickets and grasshoppers.
Another team made up of Wesley Skovera, Anika Dixit, Aubrey Wayne, and Beckett Koontz considered all sorts of possibilities as they looked at ways for young people to grow up in a more stable climate and healthy environment.
Eventually, they decided to focus on “urban gardens” – growing food within communities. They made an invaluable connection when Ron Finley of the Ron Finley Project, a national organization that promotes urban gardens, agreed to talk with them via Skype from Los Angeles.
“He was really nice about it,” Anika said.
Via Skype, he showed the students around his garden as he talked.
It was amazing, Beckett said, how working on their solution could connect them with someone across the country.
All four fully expect to garden themselves in the days to come.