Urban Farming Brings Community Together for One America in Miami
Gathered outside Miami Northwestern Senior High School this afternoon, students, community members, education leaders and celebrity chefs volunteered to help combat hunger in the low-income Miami neighborhood of Liberty City.
They filled 1,000 bright green, biodegradable bags with mulch, soil and plants – peppers, tomatoes, herbs and more – to share with area residents. Hunger is a persistent problem in the area. Nearly 950,000 people in south Florida, many of them children, don’t have enough to eat.
One America brought the volunteers together to show what people can accomplish when they unite. The national campaign, led by Points of Light and Chase, aims to inspire millions of Americans to serve their communities.
"We have to keep asking how can food and our approach to food be a solution to hunger, to starvation to joblessness, to poverty to transforming education," chef José Andrés told the crowd. "We have to search for more opportunities to engage in volunteer efforts like today that will give us hope for the future."
Earlier in the day, Andrés (today’s Daily Point of Light Award winner) and fellow celebrity chefs Ingrid Hoffmann and Adrianne Calvo helped kick off The Education Effect’s Plant it Forward, a program that teaches high school students about food production, entrepreneurship and giving back to the community.
The Education Effect, created with a $1 million investment from Chase, is the result of a partnership between Florida International University, Miami Northwestern and Miami-Dade County Public Schools. The goal is to improve graduation rates at the high school.
Students spend time on the FIU campus to get a sense of college life; they can take courses at school that can earn them college credit; they can participate in projects that combine learning with service to the community. Through Plant it Forward, students will manage the largest aquaponics lab in the area (cultivating fish and plants together), sell their produce at food stands and mobile markets throughout Liberty City and teach cooking and nutrition lessons at schools, churches and community events.
At today’s event, Andrés praised the students and received some accolades of his own as he accepted his Daily Point of Light Award from Points of Light President Tracy Hoover. The acclaimed chef and restaurateur was recognized for addressing hunger in developing countries by teaching local people how to grow and cook healthy food.
Andrés and the other chefs joined Miami Northwestern student Brandon Allen on stage for a discussion about efforts to end hunger. They talked about the Education Effect’s outdoor aquaponics lab at the school. Aquaponic food production combines raising fish with growing plants in water. The fish and plants rely on each other to thrive – the fish waste fertilizes the plants, which in turn provide oxygen for the fish.
“Aquaponics is helping people and making our school a better place for people to come to and enjoy,” Brandon said. “It’s a place where people want to be. This program has shown me that I could do this forever, and I hope that everyone sees that all together we could solve all of the world’s hunger problems.”
The next One America tour stop will be in Houston Nov. 12. To sign up for regular updates or suggest your own unlikely pairs to unite in service, go to www.one-america.org or join the conversation on Twitter using #1America.