Winter is the season of giving – as soon as the earth freezes over and the sun retreats and everything stops sprouting, humans do their best to pick up the slack. If you’re looking for a way to give back this year (or for something inspiring to warm you up during these cold months), check out Brookline High School’s Food Justice Group, a team committed to spreading knowledge and resources, and to facilitating both generosity and self-reliance, all year long.
The Food Justice Group is an offshoot of BHS’s Student Action for Justice and Education group (SAJE), an umbrella group that tackles issues ranging from fair trade to climate change. Since its start last year, the Food Justice Group has grown in number and ambition. Although its basic focus – on food inequality and nutrition – has remained the same, the group has been able to expand its influence this year, using its manpower and relationship with the Brookline Food Pantry to help support the townwide Feed Brookline Drive sponsored by BrooklineHub.com.
The group has also taken on a major new project of its own. With the help of Laura Eppstein, a SAJE alum and an organizer for the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), the students have begun restoring an abandoned greenhouse on the high school grounds. They hope to start a school garden and donate the harvest to local cafeterias and food pantries so that, in the words of group co-leader Ayesha Mehrotra, people using those resources receive “good, organic, healthy food instead of Campbell’s soup.” “It is not emphasized enough that there is a struggle to obtain healthy foods if people have a lower income,” explains Jessica Lu, another co-leader. “The relationship between social class and health is the most important thing I learned from being involved with this group.”
In the past, the Food Justice Group has helped spread this message through food drives, movie nights, and their annual Hunger Banquet. The new greenhouse is providing the group, and the larger community, with an opportunity to learn about food systems from the ground up. As the garden takes shape, NOFA will host a series of Urban Gardening workshops for students and other community members who, like group mentor Eppstein, are interested in “learning practical skills, becoming more self-reliant, and strengthening community through good food.” Just another way that, as other groups fill donation boxes, BHS’s Food Justice Group manages to fill hearts, minds, and stomachs.
Urban Gardening workshops will be held at Brookline High School on February 18th (“How To Make Raised Beds”), March 3rd (“Vegetable Gardening 101”), March 10th (“Soil Composition”), and March 18th (“Composting”). The Food Justice Group’s annual Hunger Banquet is on April 3rd this year. Hope to see you there!
By Cara Giaimo