Olivia Cason is a rising sophomore at St. Edward’s University and is completing a summer internship with SFC as part of a partnership between St. Edward’s and H-E-B. Olivia supports our summer field trip program in which local camps bring their campers (ages 4-15) for hands-on cooking and gardening, and activities that illustrate how food gets from the farm or garden to our plates. She came to us after a semester-long project on sustainable agriculture here in Austin, where she was introduced to urban farms and first heard about SFC. She shared this essay about why SFC’s mission is so important to her.
Intern Spotlight: Olivia Cason
Why I Support SFC by Olivia Cason
The rise of industrial agricultural in America is dramatically affecting our population and the environment. Spreading through the states like a thick fog, thousands of men and women are struggling to meet their basic needs due to reasons that stretch from immigrant requirements, to single parent homes, to broke college graduates. Even though it is helpful to have our necessities like food be relatively cheap, these low dollar amounts can be deceiving, and in the long run may create health problems and harm the environment. As we work to meet the needs of our people, it is imperative that we turn to sustainable alternatives to protect our country, our families, and our planet.
Many of us have grown up not thinking too much about where our food comes from. We as a society have lost our traditional farming skills, and take for granted the food systems that are in place today. There is a disconnect from the farm to the people, and SFC gives light to this issue by informing their members and classes on the value of growing organic. The J.P.’s Peace, Love, and Happiness Foundation Teaching Garden has provided produce in many of the cooking classes, and is a teaching grounds for children and adults who are interested in organic gardening. This encourages people to eat sustainably and not feel as if processed food is their only alternative. The objective is to break the chain of processed food.
Since interning with SFC, I have been a part of the great educational value that their programs offer. It is very fulfilling to be a part of an organization that encourages students to be aware of their food and their local environment. The most exciting activity for the students is visiting the Teaching Garden. It brings life to the classroom discussions and activities, and puts things in perspective for the kids. They are able to visualize the possibilities that come with growing and maintaining their own food, and when members of St. David’s Foundation Community Garden are out tending to their crops our students can see their satisfied faces when they begin to maintain or harvest their gardens.
When more people have the knowledge and resources that SFC provides, they are more prone to build their own garden and grow their own food, which in return can open up opportunities for profit such as selling their extra produce at a farmers’ market, or trading produce for another product that they need. Furthermore, if more people learn how to grow their own food, they and their environment would see positive effects.. Additionally, growing your own food organically means staying away from harmful chemicals such as. Growing organically can positively affect the overall health of Americans, and this could mean fewer trips to the doctor, which is a financial and social savings for everyone.
Exposing children to gardening also has other beneficial effects. For example, SFC worked with the University of Texas School of Public Health to evaluate its Sprouting Healthy Kids Project in six Austin-area middle schools, all of which serve a majority of low-income families. The researchers concluded that the more exposure the students had to multiple programming—like garden activities, farmer field trips, veggie samples and cooking classes, the more likely the students were to choose healthy foods.
SFC wants to make it possible for all people to have access to and knowledge of a sustainable lifestyle, This is why their powerful staff devotes so much time and dedication into their work every day; filling the organization with empathy and love.
By alleviating the dependency on processed food, and discussing sustainable alternatives, an independence is opened—for many their only financial independence. If we have more institutions that create programs around organic farming and gardening, we will see an increase in food security in homes of low income families, schools, and communities.
Supporting relevant gardening skills for adults and children will create resourceful people who are food secure and informed on how to grow and use their food under a variety of circumstances. SFC strives for change in the way food is represented in America. By working with our future leaders, children, we are introducing our country to a new system, a better system that will protect our land, our families, and our country as a whole. I am proud to be supporting Sustainable Food Center so that the organization can continue its viable initiatives for the environment as well as continue making great impacts in the lives of many regardless their financial background.