Growing North

By: Illana Livstrom  

“Growthing North” is a community-based collaborative educational program that aims to build food, environmental and cognitive justice through sustainable urban agriculture and horticulture. Learning and career development are experiential and contextualized in the greenhouse, garden beds aquaponics system and hoop house, as well as activities surrounding food justice, food accessibility, food production systems, horticulture science, aquaponics and composting. “Growing North” brings together urban youth as interns with local University Agricultural education and food systems undergraduates, and community stakeholders in a tiered system of near-peer mentoring and learning. Program participants care for community gardens all over the Northside, distribute food throughout their neighborhoods, and sell to markets. This work is situated in an urban community, which has faced a history of injustice and marginalization, and currently experiences disproportionate rates of poverty, food insecurity, homelessness, and violence. The community is classified as a food desert, and many residents experience food insecurity. Greater program goals include connecting the Northside community to healthy and sustainable food production and consumption through youth advocacy, leadership and socioemotional development, and combating the school-to-prison pipeline by creating pathways to the University and workforce. The program now brings together multiple University departments, local non-profits and supporting organizations, public schools, informal educational programs, and community members. This paper will share both programmatic design elements and research findings from two years of Growing North. A community-based participatory research methodology was and continues to be utilized to include the voices of program participants and community stakeholders in the research process.

Urban Food Justice
Food Production and Sustainability
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Illana Livstrom