Saturday, July 4, 2020

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    Youth Garden Project reaffirms commitment to equality

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    In common with many organizations and individuals across the country, the Youth Garden Project team is reeling from the recent events across the nation, and wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts and define our commitment to diversity and inclusion.

    Black Lives Matter protesters gather
    File photo

    The Youth Garden Project wholeheartedly acknowledges the systemic racism that is woven into the fabric of this country. We acknowledge this is a problem that needs more attention, and we are committed to helping to un-weave the hateful threads that have never belonged. We also acknowledge the historical context of agriculture and its connection to slavery and racism.

    YGP has always been a place of acceptance, from its emerging roots. The organization was established as an outlet for at-risk youth to complete court ordered community service in a nurturing environment. We have grown over the past 24 years and through our programs have continued to serve all children and families in this community, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, gender identity, and home environment. Nurturing and acceptance have consistently been imperative to the work we do to serve our diverse community.

    As has been made apparent in recent weeks, imploring the values of nurturing and acceptance are not enough. As such, the Youth Garden Project wants to relay to our supporters and partners the renewed commitments we have made as an organization to offset systemic racism.

    YGP will standardize and expand the anti-oppression training provided to our staff.  

    YGP staff will dedicate time and organizational resources to learning about food justice and the intersection of racism and agriculture through reading, discussion and research. We will share what we learn with our team and others.

    We will continue to uplift and support our community partners that provide support to people of color.

    We will listen, learn, and acknowledge when we have made mistakes and identify areas of improvement to better meet the needs of our diverse community. You can share your feedback any time by contacting YGP’s executive director (kaitlin@youthgardenproject.org). 

    Companion planting is the practice of planting different crops together for a variety of reasons– pest control, pollination, providing habitat for beneficial insects, maximizing space–with the ultimate purpose of increasing crop productivity. We must use this lesson from the garden and work together to make our society more productive towards social justice and be true companions. Let us use our privilege to create a better world where those that are marginalized benefit from the harvest too.

    Thomas is the executive director of the Youth Garden Project. She writes on behalf of her staff and volunteers. 

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