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November 4th, 2011
12:47 PM ET

Taja Sevelle: Discovering health through city farming

Taja Sevelle is a recording artist and founder of Urban Farming, which seeks to reduce hunger and increase access to healthy, natural foods through the planting of gardens in unused land and spaces.

In 2005, I decided to put my music career on the back burner and start the nonprofit organization Urban Farming.

Back then, I only had $5,000 to start it, along with a pamphlet and three little plots of green. But even then, we had a mission: to end hunger in our generation and to help build urban, suburban and, as we say, "rurban" (rural) communities that are physically and economically healthy.

We not only encourage people to grow their own food, we teach about healthy eating, healthy fitness, healthy thinking and healthy personal finances.

Many times, I’ve seen the results of poor eating habits and a general disconnect from the knowledge of where food comes from and how it affects one’s body. One 17-year-old girl, touring a garden as part of a Detroit youth group, stands out. Pointing to a plant, she asked, “What’s that?”

“An eggplant,” the teacher replied.

“Is that where eggs come from?” was her innocent follow-up. It was one of many bittersweet, hands-on learning moments that I have seen on the gardens as young people and adults discover things they have never seen before.

Another girl, noticing a tomato, exclaimed “Look, Mommy! That’s what they put on the burgers at McDonalds!” As best as I could tell, that was the only place she’d ever seen a tomato.

These unhealthy habits have come with a high cost. According to a study released by former New York Gov. David Patterson and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, obesity-related illness costs the state of New York nearly $8 billion each year, roughly $770 for every household.

A lot of this human and financial cost could be eliminated by people making healthy choices, and that’s a lesson that has to start young and in school. Too often, the lunch bell signals that learning is about to fly out the window. A bonanza of unhealthy food choices continues to plague many cafeterias, and a potentially valuable hands-on learning environment is lost in a sea of enticing junk foods.

Why not make the lunch room another learning experience? Today, Urban Farming is growing partnerships with schools, helping establish gardens on campus, teaching children about personal responsibility and about giving to others in need. According to a California study, students are more likely to eat fresh vegetables in their diets when they have planted and grown the food themselves. A hands-on garden experience is reinforced when a student can walk into a lunch room that is full of healthy food choices.

Today, we have over 50,000 community, residential and partner gardens that are a part of the Urban Farming Global Food Chain worldwide.

Like a garden, life comes full circle, and after a few years with my music on the back burner, I’ve just released new music: a remake of the Chic song “Good Times.” Why not make them great?


soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Kenny Jorayta

    Having an organic food grown at home is a hundred safer than the food that is offered by fastfood and restaurant.It is cheaper but can assure health to those who eat it.

    November 6, 2011 at 01:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Jack

    I can still remember my grandpha,he died at old age not by sickness.He never eat food that is process.

    November 6, 2011 at 01:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Avser Bastian

    WHITES ARE NOT WELCOME IN AMERICA ANY LONGER !!! WE DON'T NEED YOU ANY MORE !!!

    OUT OF AMERICA WITH WHITES NOW !!!

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xGfYOAydjw&w=640&h=360]
    OR
    http://www.youtube.com/user/BostjanAvsec <== OBAMA'S HEALTH CARE RECORDED LIVE IN 2009 !!! These are hard facts about lunatic Obama/Bush's twilight zone administrations(HORROR) or genocide against whites per ZIONIST Washington DC and communist Moscow where new SOVIET UNION NUMBER TWO WANNA BE or new Stalin is in place = PUTIN !!!

    EXILING WHITES WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE AND IMPORTING NON WHITES IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS COMPLETELY FREE.

    THIS NEWS IS RELATED TO WALL-STREET PROTESTS...NOT ANTI WALL-STREET, BUT ANTI WHITES !!!

    ANTI WALL-STREET PROTESTS ARE ALSO KNOWN UNDER ZIONIST "TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP" IN AMERICA !!! TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP FROM HANDS OF WHITE AMERICANS TO SO CALLED "MINORITIES"(COMMUNISM)

    Wall street protesters are Obama's raise of the planet Apes army which spread from London per Zionist Washington DC and communist Moscow where Mr. SOVIET UNION NUMBER TWO or new Stalin is in place = PUTIN

    ANTI WALL-STREET PROTEST MOVEMENT IS LED BY SO CALLED "ANONYMOUS" !!

    Anonymous !!? REALLY !!?

    NOW TELL ME WHO IS ANONYMOUS IN A POLICE STATE WHERE WE ARE SURVEILLANCED 24/7 !!? WHO !!?

    NOBODY !!! ABSOLUTELY NOBODY IS ANONYMOUS IN A POLICE STATE AND NOR ARE THOSE WHO MADE YOU PROTEST FOR THEIR SAKE OR WHAT MULTICULTURALISM(animal Apartheid) IS !!! http://multiculturalismisterrorism.blogspot.com

    GREEK CRISES http://burnbabyburnahaha.blogspot.com

    November 6, 2011 at 17:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Him

      Great blog Brendan!! and what a fantastic cooctleiln of greens. I miss the gardening so much i now live in a flat, although last year i had limited success with my terrace tomatoes you inspired me to be more anventurous with the my terrace!!..ah wait, i see you have more stuff to the right will have a nosey around!!

      October 11, 2012 at 14:10 | Report abuse |
  4. larry5

    If growing your own food helps you keep chemicals and the government out of your food then it's a great idea. You should try to do your best to only eat food. It's difficult and sometimes more expensive in the short run but well worth the trouble.

    November 7, 2011 at 01:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. The Constant Gardener

    It amazes me how much of a benefit urban farming can have, not only in encouraging sustainable agriculture, but in building community and helping to revitalize urban areas. I think its a really simply thing and yet its impacts are huge. Greater access to local produce, greater understanding of eco-friendly living, enhanced nutritional benefits of produce, even opportunties for schools and children to gain a better appreciation of where their food comes from and what the impacts are of non-sustainable farming practices world wide. Its not just in Detroit, there are lots of start ups that are really seeing great results in their programs, especially in eco conscious towns like Ann Arbor. Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) is one that comes to mind and it was started by students! Gives one a bit of hope for the next generation! Thanks for the great article. Heres the link for MUFI's website If anyone is interested. Its pretty cool what their doing. http://www.miufi.com/

    February 7, 2012 at 15:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Low Calorie Foods HQ

    I grow a lot of my own healthy, fresh vegetables at home. You can even find indoor growing possibilities. Then you can make lots of tasty, healthier dishes.
    http://www.lowcaloriefoodshq.com

    March 13, 2012 at 14:00 | Report abuse | Reply

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