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Students to Help Community, School With Youth Farmer’s Market

By Arnesa A. Howell

Food deserts: “[U]rban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy and affordable food,” with convenience stores and fast food restaurants as go-to’s when food shopping. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture

There are pockets of communities across Washington, D.C. designated as food deserts. And one of those, according to community members and leaders, is Deanwood in Ward 7. To address this problem, the Academy of Construction & Design in spring 2016 plans to unveil its Youth Farmer’s Market at IDEA Public Charter School.

“This semester is the groundwork for the farmer’s market in the spring,” said Krystal Boone, who is teaching the farmer’s market curriculum as part of an introductory ACAD class. The market will be an important resource in a neighborhood where CVS pharmacy stores and fast food chains are more plentiful than access to healthy, fresh and affordable produce, Boone said.

“It’s a way for us to produce on our property to give to the cafeteria and community,” she said.

The farmer’s market will be a collaboration among classes. The architecture and design students will design raised flower beds, sheds, trellises and a greenhouse while the construction and technology class will build them. And then “ACAD I” will use these structures to grow nutritious foods for the school and community.

“We will grow fresh fruits and vegetables for our community because this is a food desert,” said Shelly Karriem, director of the Academy of Construction & Design.

Giving back to the community is one of the goals at IDEA, said David Owens, chairman of IDEA Public Charter School. So, planting and growing fresh fruits and vegetables will “certainly imbed [students] in the community and that’s critically important that they understand that they have a footprint in the community, and the community is supporting them as well.”

Those foods, in turn, would be sold to the community at “deeply discounted” prices, he added.

The farmer’s market would be an important step forward in serving the largely African-American community, a population that is disproportionately affected by diabetes, high blood pressure and other health conditions. “This program will encourage healthy eating,” Owens said.