Humans spent the last 10,000 years struggling to obtain enough calories, often just squeaking out an existence. Here we are in the 21st century and we grow far more than enough food to provide adequate calories to every man, woman and child on earth. Consider that the population at the advent of farming was 3M (rough estimate) and we’ll hit 7B this year and the feat’s even more remarkable. So, when talking food, why is it that all anyone talks about are the issues surrounding the ‘food system’? Continue reading
I love Einstein quotes. Here’s one of my favorites: “We can’t solve problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” It comes to mind when I hear, “We’ve got to get the economy going again.” Yet, if there’s no longer a correlation between the USA’s growing GDP with quality of life (we’re less happy now than forty years ago and easy to see why: we work longer, for less money) and worse, a growing GDP means more of life dies, i.e. forests, fisheries, soil, isn’t it time to rethink our strategy? If our most ‘educated’ people, as business execs, do the most damage, shouldn’t we rethink education? Continue reading
Truck Farm Chicago’s inaugural tour is nearly four months in (now powered by biodiesel from Loyola University) and we’re giving away cherry tomatos to anyone who asks.
During a Truck Farm visit the other day, a young grandmother asked, “If you don’t sell anything from your little farm, what do you do with it?” So, while her grandkids sampled produce and painted veggies on the truck, I explained our mission: connecting kids to food & wellness, and described our programming (often w/partners), i.e. visiting schools & conducting programming like gardening, wellness education and cooking.
With a few miles under my farming belt, I’m realizing the power of using the topic of food for learning. We’re all connected to it at least three times a day and it’s connected to everything else. From brain power, to healthcare costs and from public policy to social justice and jobs, food is our medium. Fresh, tasty food. And the best part is the number of practical ways to improve our system. It’s not about sacrifice, it’s about abundance. It’s not about higher costs, it’s about food that tastes great and nourishes us (and the soil). And being with youth to talk about these issues is a great place to be. And that’s why Truck Farm continues to roll…
P.S. Coming soon: Changing our relationship with nature. Then, the difference between corn/soy farm and a small vegetable farm. Then, the real cost of ‘flaming hots.’
We spark instincts already in kids: the desire to get outside and wander, wonder, dig and climb. Kids are curious and we aim to keep it that way long enough to let them bond with, and gain inspiration from, nature. Einstein knew, “Nature teaches us everything we need to know,” and creatively applying nature’s principles leads to brilliant design and a world of abundance.
Props are good. I like props, so I knew Truck Farm Chicago would work. With a ‘farm-on-wheels’ that lets kids harvest and eat food, it’s easy to engage in conversations about health. I just wasn’t sure the plants would like being on the bumpy road day after day. Well, from the kale to the onions and spinach, to the chard and broccoli, we’re growing food. And yesterday we harvested the first fruit from our strawberry patch. The look on the student’s face after he bit into it was priceless.
P.S. This link takes you to Jamie Oliver’s blog and an article on an innovative school in Chicago, The Academy for Global Citizenship. And Truck Farm gets to visit next week
I have dirt under my fingernails and it feels great. The sun rises higher and our crops grow taller. We visit kids and laugh. Life is good. Check out the latest project- A Green Sugar Press and Seven Generations Ahead collaboration: Truck Farm Chicago.
It’s about engaging kids in conversations on food; how it grows, where it grows and why it matters. From toddlers to teens, our programming runs the gamut, from planting seeds to composting demos, to hands-on history/geography lessons and cooking classes.
Check out more, at our w-i-p website: Truck Farm Chicago
P.S. Including are clips from our visits with NBC, ABC and WGN TV.
P.P.S. Don’t fret, the kale, spinach, strawberries, onions, broccoli, chard, cauliflower, collard greens, radishes and parsley plants have grown far taller than in this picture.
I’ve yet to meet a teacher that believes existing standardized tests are a fully adequate measure of student performance. And I’ve yet to meet a business executive that hires (for careers that pay well) based on how well applicants do at rote memorization and linear thinking.
So, how should we spend time in schools and how do we measure student performance?
I’ve been a big fan of TED talks. TED conferences happen all over the world and the brief talks/presentations are available for free at ted.com. Listening to them while in my car makes me immune to Chicago traffic. Why mention it here? There are a number of TED speakers with great insight into children and education.
Three of my favorite:
- Kiran Bir Sethi- empowering children
- Aimee Mullins – the opportunity of adversity
- Sir Ken Robinson – creativity
I was fortunate to see Sir Ken speak last week with old ski buddy and consultant Dani Stern who runs a Montessori school in Bozeman. We didn’t get any photos with Ken, so here’s one of Dani and I.
Normally, I’m not a huge fan of Mondays. I look at my “Things to Do List” and feel overwhelmed. Well, not today. Sure, my “To Do List” is long and getting longer, but this morning I was lucky enough to meet five inspiring Whitney Young High School students. With Teacher Brian Sievers, they work in a lab at the University of IL, Chicago, creating biodiesel from donated used oil, e.g. soy, canola. Their fuel powers anything that runs on diesel, like the Truck Farm we’ll be introducing next month (and Chicago’s Fresh Moves Mobile Market). The benefits of re-using waste and burning biodiesel are, to start, reducing disposal/landfill fees (saving money) and lowering air pollution (and higher healthcare costs). For more, check out one of their websites.
Not only are they learning about solving problems and making a difference once they graduate, they are doing it today.As a team, utilizing their different strengths, they secured sponsors and donors and, of course, put the system together and got it working. Yes, Brian Sievers, the Whitney Young Teacher, is an expert, but he’s clear about one thing: it’s the kid’s project. He’s there giving his free time and providing support and guidance, but it’s the students who are ‘running the show.’
So, while CBS TV cancelled their appearance and Senator Durbin only sent an aide, it’s neat seeing kids solve real problems and understand that the 21st century is the most exciting time in the world to be alive.
P.S. More to follow on Truck Farm Chicago (whose biodiesel will come from these students). Today was also a good day because Green Teacher, the magazine, gave An Environmental Guide from A to Z, a fantastic review
A line I’ve heard from parents more than once the last few months: “How do I have time to worry about the environment? I’m just trying to love my kids.”
And when the dinner needs to be made, Johnny needs help with homework, the car needs an oil change, Katie’s being bullied, and our company is shipping jobs overseas… then worrying about the environment falls pretty low on the list of “things to do right now.” I understand that.
I also understand that we’re living in crazy times. The 21st century is the most exciting time in the history of the world to be alive. Exciting and scary. Every living system in the world is in decline and that decline is accelerating (Paul Hawken). While we say we care about democracy and jobs and nature (for us and our kids and even other kids), our actions speak more loudly. There are millions around the globe fighting for justice and a future, but the billions that go with the flow (because they are struggling just to keep up) give more power to the status quo. But going with the flow (or as Howard Zinn might say, we can’t be neutral on a moving train) only makes the necessary changes more difficult. So, if we love our kids, we’ll change priorities. We’ll find time to become informed (getting past the ‘sound bytes’), engage in the political process and support transformative change.
Becoming an environmentalist shouldn’t be about adding to your “To-Do” list, but it may change how you spend your time, money and efforts. It may mean less time at the office and more time with your family. It may mean less money on TVs, cars and fast food and more on local and organic food and cooking. It definitely means engaging in the political process to hold business and politicians accountable. Hopefully, it also means working to develop your children’s creative skills (asking for change at schools too, please!).
Loving your kids and doing good ought to be one in the same- and improve your quality of life while giving your kids a world that has a chance.
Love & Peas, Tim.