Good Food News - We Got This
Community built around food is something I feel very strongly about, as you’ll know when you read this blog and listen to the podcast episodes. I read a story from Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel that goes into great detail to show how Mr. Andre Lee Ellis and his "We Got This Milwaukee” gardening and mentorship program are doing just that.
His program is aimed at boys ages 12 to 17, who work in the garden, pick up trash in the neighborhood, and receive $20 at the end of the day for their efforts. The garden is located in a neighborhood which has one of the highest incarceration rates for black men in the nation as well as one of the shortest life expectancy rates. Ellis uses the garden chores and tough love to mentor the young men.
Being outdoors, working in the soil, and taking pride in the community are the basics of the program, yet it goes so much deeper than that. Mr. Ellis grew up in the area and understands the odds that are stacked against it’s residents. He is gets to know each of the participants, holding them to standards they may have not met up with before, which gives them a solid base from which to grow and thrive.
This not only benefits them but also the surrounding neighborhood. Studies have shown that low-income people living near newly “greened” lots not only felt better about their area, they also reported lower levels of stress and depression. Also statistics have shown that property crime fell 10 percent in the area since Mr. Ellis arrived and started the program.
These are the kinds of people who make a community stronger, healthier and better. He's growing more than vegetables on that lot- he and his young men are growing a better world.