Nonprofit Spotlight: Urban Roots seeks to change the community
Plumas Bank sponsors this content
“Search: Change + Health + Reno“
Setare Taabodi stumbled across Urban Roots in a simple internet search, hunting for organizations that blended community outreach and health advocacy in Reno, Nevada. She was in the early phase of identifying a project for her doctorate in nursing, the purpose of which was to understand what approaches could best influence an entire community’s health habits.
She reached out to the Reno-based nonprofit to connect. After touring the Urban Teaching Farm on Second Street, Setare fell in love with the nonprofit’s work to grow healthy minds, bodies, and community. Her personal passion and the nonprofit’s vision were a perfect match and Setare eagerly dove in.
The result of Setare’s research validated the benefits of hands-on garden education and lent credibility to the nonprofit, helping them secure financial gifts in support of their new endeavor.
The Urban Roots Mission
Urban Roots is now in its tenth year of operation, working to change the way children eat and learn through garden-based education. They’ve served thousands of students in Washoe County through a blend of summer, spring, and fall camps, home school sessions, and school garden curriculum.
Founded by an AmeriCorps member in 2009 and cultivated by dedicated board members and staff who have made it the blooming entity it is today, Urban Roots now has a presence in 20 schools in the district, with three eagerly waiting to graduate off the wait list with a completed garden bed.
Their talented team includes a farm guru who has grown a veritable vegetable oasis from a literal dirt lot, a curriculum expert who works with each school to maximize teaching time and lesson retention, and scores of eager camp teachers who impart both magic and enthusiasm each day to their students.
As Urban Roots coached students through what the planting process looks like from seed to harvest, Setare dove into her research. In the process, she found a wealth of information that detailed a correlation between experiential learning and the successful creation of healthy eating habits in children.
What Urban Roots was doing, giving students the chance to leave XBoxes and iPhones behind in favor of a shovel and a front row seat to watch what they plant grow right in front of their eyes, was powerful. It was also incomplete.
To really ensure students would carry over the habit of integrating fresh ingredients into their diet for their foreseeable adult futures, the nonprofit needed to close the gap that occurred in education directly after harvesting.
Rather than students leaving the farm and waiting to see if parents could help them prepare a recipe, students could immediately learn this information for maximum retention with the installation of a teaching kitchen.
In a highly processed, over-packaged world, this is the work that Urban Roots has been championing for ten years. But a teaching kitchen (and an accompanying container restroom unit, which expands capacity from 30 students at a time to nearly 100) is the next step in closing the education circle and making the experience a true, seed-to-table lesson.
Campaigning to Cook
This summer, Urban Roots embarked on a fundraising initiative to bring this kitchen to fruition on their Second Street Teaching Farm, in partnership with Renown Health.
Championed heavily by leaders in our community including foundations, corporations, and individuals, the effort has nearly bankrolled the entirety of its $180,000 price tag, but is just shy of final financing to begin installation.
“We want this kitchen to be a resource for the entire community, not just students,” said Fayth Ross, executive director for Urban Roots. “We’ve been collecting feedback and ideas from our donors, supporters, and friends so we can provide inclusive and diverse education. Beyond the ability to provide seed-to-table curriculum, we see this addition as hub for our community. Imagine workshops, corporate retreats, or even birthday parties. The opportunities to promote healthy lifestyles are endless and so exciting!”
For Setare, seeing this initiative nearly complete is thrilling.
“I’m just so excited to have had a conversation in something that, as research proves, can have such a positive impact on an entire community,” Setare said. “It’s just a matter of locating just a few more donors who are just as passionate about this as we are.”
At the time of publication, the teaching kitchen fundraising effort is in need of $7,000. To make a donation, visit http://www.urgc.org/our-kitchen to provide a donation that will help grow healthy habits and a healthier community for all. All gifts valuing $1,000 or more will be recognized on a permanent art display on the Teaching Farm. To learn more about Urban Roots visit http://www.urgc.org.
This article was provided by Urban Roots; Plumas Bank sponsors this content.
“I point out many cases of where privately owned companies do just as bad a job as publicly owned companies,” says Reno resident and former teacher Robert (R.D.) Gardner.