Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Maya Angelou Charter School students volunteer at East Capitol Farm

On Friday, December 4, nearly 50 volunteers including students from the Maya Angelou Public Charter School's Young Adult Learning Center (YALC), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Groundwork Anacostia and UDC volunteered, continuing construction on and the beautification of East Capitol Urban Farm. Volunteers learned about urban agriculture and green infrastructure under the leadership of site managers Dr. Kamran Zendehdel and Harris Trobman, from the CAUSES Center for Sustainable Development (CSD), and constructed 20 raised beds and planted the remaining shrubs and trees. Read more about the progress of East Capitol Urban Farm from Dr. Dwane Jones, director, CSD.

A first time user, Kenyatta turned out to be a natural with the drill.

The mission of the Maya Angelou Public Charter School is to create learning communities in lower income urban areas where all students, particularly those who have not succeeded in traditional schools, can reach their potential and prepare for college, career, and a lifetime of success. The following testimonials demonstrate the benefit of community service projects like East Capitol Urban Farm:

Joshua, YALC 
student volunteer: "We've had some disagreements before, but we came together and got over it when planting the tree. Today gave me the opportunity to talk to some of my schoolmates who I normally don't talk to, which is a good thing. I also learned that cooperation is more likely with a single goal. I think a lot of people will enjoy this and what we're doing here--making a difference."

Lorraine Richardson, Senior Regional Sustainability Coordinator, HUD: "It's awesome to expose these students to the different potential career opportunities. With this exposure to the benefits of urban farming, these students will be more aware of what's going on in their community, and will help spread the word of what this is about. They'll drive by and see things that they planted growing and think about doing this for their own homes."

HUD's Lorraine Richardson watches as Kamran Zendehdel shows a student how to sow seeds.

Che Axum, director, CAUSES Center for Sustainable Development: "This is a great opportunity for the students to get a better understanding about the food system; how food is grown, transported and prepared as well as understanding food systems from a scientific standpoint--the whole 360. This is the past and the future."

Jessica Wynter-Martin, Ward 7 community volunteer: "I'm hopeful that this experience is meaningful for students and will show them an easy, affordable way to bring food into their own homes. I hope this will inspire schools to create programs on nutrition and home gardening."

Jessica Wynter-Martin (far right) directs students as they fill raised beds with soil.

Teresa Turner, CAUSES Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health: "This is a great cause--growing fresh food in this kind of community. I hope the end result is that people take advantage of this farm. I hope to see even younger kids to come and do this. It will bring more people to the field of agriculture."

Jaime Brown, Center for 4-H and Youth Development: "The students are doing an awesome job. They are going to hopefully help once the aquaponics system is installed and ultimately will have a chance to start their own businesses one day. We're going to teach them!"

"This isn't just a tree. This is our tree." 

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