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This teen-led food co-op is harvesting a healthier future

In many urban areas across the country, the lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables is a common problem. As part of the PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs, Kevin Broome reports that a cooperative of high school students in Washington, D.C., is aiming to change that.

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  • Nick Schifrin:

    In many urban areas across the country, there are food deserts, areas with a lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

    But, as Maryland and Washington, D.C., teams from our Student Reporting Labs noticed, a cooperative of high school students in D.C. is aiming to change that.

    It’s part of our weekly education series, Making the Grade.

    And it’s reported by 18 year old Kevin Broome.

  • Kevin Broome:

     These students are learning how to grow vegetables and other edible plants.

    Rasha Rida is a 12th grader at Eastern Senior High School.

  • Rasha Rida:

    So, one day, I was just going to soccer practice. I was just walking by the greenhouse. And I was like, oh, my God. What is that beautiful, magnificent thing greenhouse over there? And the sun was just radiating. It was just like, ahhh.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Rasha Rida:

     And so, basically, I just peeked my head in the door and I was like, so, what is this? And they were like, this is mighty greens.

  • Kevin Broome:

     Mighty Greens is a youth-led cooperative whose mission is to improve Washington, D.C.’s access to healthy food and food education.

  • Rasha Rida:

     D.C. is a food desert. So that basically means that people in D.C. have a hard time having access to food, whether it’s a grocery store not being close enough to them or transportation to that grocery store.

  • Kevin Broome:

     According to D.C. Hunger Solutions, every day in the district of Columbia, nearly one out of seven households struggles to buy nutritionally adequate and safe food.

    Kameela Owens is an 11th grader at Eastern Senior High School.

  • Kameela Owens:

     I help people in my community learn how to grow vegetables or even learn how to eat healthy with the vegetables. One day, maybe our city could not be a food desert.

    Malka Roth is an educator for City Blossoms, a D.C.-based nonprofit organization that helps Mighty Greens operate.

  • Malka Roth:

    It’s really about creating a space where students can connect with themselves, with each other, and with the world around them.

  • Kevin Broome:

     Last year, Mighty Greens harvested over 1200 pounds of food and is hoping to surpass that this year.

  • Malka Roth:

     About 50 percent of our produce gets sold. About 25 percent gets donated to our partners, and then 25 percent gets taken home by students or used for on-site recipes.

    It’s really important within this work that the students know that they’re growing food for themselves.

  • Kevin Broome:

     Students also develop entrepreneurial skills by creating products and selling them at farmer’s markets.

  • Kameela Owens:

     We have two herb salts. One’s called herbs of eastern, which has kosher salt, thyme, oregano, and rosemary.

    We make it by dehydrating all the herbs we get out the garden and then mixing it with salt, equal parts each. The customers are like, oh, this is really cool. And you’re like, oh, my gosh, that’s really good. You feel really good about it.

  • Kevin Broome:

     This program equips students with critical life skills and gives them confidence beyond the classroom.

  • Kameela Owens:

    People in high school, if they had like a program where they could go to and learn how to do a business, they would be able to understand those things that you don’t learn in school. I feel like, if I didn’t join this, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

  • Kevin Broome:

    For the “PBS NewsHour” Student Reporting Labs, I’m Kevin Broome in Washington, D.C.

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