We give kids the tools to navigate the universe using food, farming and social enterprise with a farm as a classroom.
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2 Submitted Ideas
- PLAY ·2014 Grants Challenge
#LosAngeles as a city is way overdue for a children's garden amongst its spaces to learn, play and commune with the natural world.
- 2013 Grants Challenge
Let us give kids jobs this summer growing and selling vegetables at 5 sites throughout Los Angeles. Let us finance their would-be produce empires with a replicable model that gives their non-profit partners or even "just classroom teachers" the means to enable young eaters to engage in the business of #food.
We can expand our current program model of urban school garden and rural farm partnership and create Muir Ranch Community Supported Agriculture satellites (CSA) that insert really amazing food into high need communities at the same time provide opportunities for non-profits with the energy and vision to be social entrepreneurs.
We work with farmers and their California abundance to provide really awesome food from the Santa Monica and Hollywood Farmers Markets.
WHO WE ARE IS MUIR RANCH.
We are a growing teen jobs program that looks like a 2 acre school farm, CSA vegetable social enterprise and catering start up. We have nearly 200 customers, 50 of whom are low income and fully subsidized via a Pasadena Children's Health Foundation grant, that receive the same weekly veg. box as our retail clients.
Our model gives our students at Muir High School the opportunity to run a business. We spend little time as "nutrition educators" preaching about the value of kale, kohlrabi and persimmons. But if the kids want to be successful business people they have to know their "product," so they eat it. No drama. No fuss. If you want to work here, eat kale. Michelle Obama would be so proud.
We started our program, not unlike Steve Jobs and that other Steve in a garage, with a vision and just ourselves as customers. Last year one teacher, then a neighbor and then a parent signed up. We had 20 customers our first month. With just under 200 customers currently we spend $6,000 a month on our produce, money for farmers, and we gross $12-15,000 per month from our client base. Everyone eats. Everyone. And our $30 weekly box is 50% tax-deductible.
Our vegetable subscription box is a better choice for our students, 90% of whom are on "free and reduced" school lunches and food stamps, SNAP. According to the Social Justice Learning Institute, LA families only spend 1-2% of their federal benefit on fresh fruits and vegetables, i.e. healthy food. Unacceptable. Horrible. And if you are Dr. Jonathon Fielding of LA County Health you can predict the billion dollar health economic impacts of diet on LA in 2050. Obesity, diabetes, hyper-tension, let alone the self-esteem and physical suffering associated with junk food, fast food and all things "flaming hot."
Couple that with the teen unemployment rate in NW Pasadena, Boyle Hts, Crenshaw, Sylmar and Inglewood you can paint a bleak picture. While we are a teaching program with at-risk, low income and other challenged youth and it is about process, we do, however, PRODUCE. As my students say, "it's expensive being a teenager, Mr. Mud." A simple paycheck is a game changer for my kids, 90% of whom who have never received one before. The simple dignity of having a phone is something that motivates my kids like no other.
We deliver our CSA to the City of Pasadena Health Dept, City Hall and the school district headquarters. We host open houses on Mondays for our school site pick up. Just having the students meet the customers, take checks, and provide customer service is a game changer. And the clients? They get kale.