By George Kevin Jordan, Special to the AFRO
Building Bridges Across the River (BBAR) and Seeds of Change are partnering up to create a “food-focused” accelerator program to narrow the food gap in the District, especially in Wards 7 and 8.
The collaboration, strengthened by a $115,000 grant from Mars, Inc., the organization behind the Seeds of Change Project, will provide food literacy programs, nutrition and farming workshops through the upcoming months at THEARC and several other locations.
“What the Seeds of Change sponsorship has been able to do is not only support the producing of food, but inspire the next food producers,” said, Scott Kratz, vice president of Building Bridges Across the River, and director of the 11th Street Bridge Park.
“This is the largest single grant that we’ve received and it allows us to do so much for the community,” Kratz said. “We’re really excited about it.”
According to an article by the DC Policy Center more than three-fourths of food deserts are located in Wards 7 and 8. The program will help residents with access to fresh food and offer ways to grow, cook and learn about health foods.
There are classes that will focus on composting, herbalism, canning preserving and fermenting and even bee harvesting. Many classes are at THEARC’s main campus located at 1901 Mississippi Avenue S.E. However several classes are located throughout Wards 7 and 8 including The National Children’s Center at 3400 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue S.E., and Kelly Miller Middle School located at 301 49th Street N.E.
D.C. is the second U.S. city where Seeds of Change is donating grants and creating programming to address food disparities as part of a larger, country-wide initiative, the first being Chicago, according to Sara Schulte, External Communications Manager of Mars, Incorporated.
“We got connected with Scott and BBAR with some other community works through Mars,” Schulte said. “We knew we wanted to get involved in the work they were doing.”
“When we look for partners, we look for people who share our mission and who are also focused on providing healthier greener communities. So when we talked to Scott it was such a great fit.”
Mars is a family-owned business with more than a century of history making diverse products and offering services, according to their website.
In addition, thanks to the SOC sponsorship, BBAR will also be employing an intern to learn about urban agriculture. Tatiana Bogans, 22, a D.C. resident will intern with BBAR until November.
“Basically I will be working with the farmers, which includes weeding harvesting, basically keeping the farm together,” Bogans said. “I like working outdoors and I like community work so it was a good fit.”
After her internship, Bogans hopes to one day attend the University of the District of Columbia and study environmental science and agriculture.
“This is a really good job if you like being outside and giving back to the community,” Bogans said.
All the programming is free and open to the public. For a full list of classes and workshops please go to: https://bbardc.org/workshops-classes/