Say Hello to Dana Wolfson, Our New Children’s Garden Coordinator!

Dana Wolfson at City Farm

We are pleased to announce that Dana Wolfson will be coordinating the Children’s Garden program for us this summer! Dana recently graduated from Bennington College in Vermont, where she majored in art and environmental studies with a focus on sustainable agriculture. While at Bennington, she lead the effort to create a campus garden and a student group centered on local food issues called the Bennington Sustainable Food Project. “The school has a history of farming,” Dana says. “It ran a farm during World War II. I thought, it happened before; it can happen again.” As proof of its sustainability, the garden is still going strong today, and the college now funds an internship program to maintain it. Plans are also in the works to get some of the produce into the dining halls and donate more to a homeless shelter. “Since it started, we’ve seen that there’s a lot of student interest in the garden,” Dana says. “It’s something that’s really important right now.”

Dana’s leadership was inspired by her experiences at The Mountain School, a semester-long place-based education program in which high school juniors live and work on an organic farm in Vermont. “The faculty, staff, and students ran the farm, and the food was consumed by the people there. It was my first direct experience with sustainable agriculture,” she says. “It became clear to me that I had to learn more.” That interest lead her to undertake several internships during her time in college, including assistant teaching at an educational garden for a middle school in Berkeley, California; working on a farm in Bennington; and conducting outreach for a startup organization called the National Young Farmers Coalition in Tivoli, New York. She also mentored youth at Bennington through The DREAM Program, which pairs college students with at-risk local kids, and brought them to the garden to learn about food-growing.

“Over the winter, I started thinking more seriously about what to do after I graduated. I really like kids, and I decided that I wanted to continue doing garden-based education work,” Dana says. She had heard about the Community Land Trust and the Children’s Garden, our low-cost summer program for area youth groups, from her sister and brother-in-law, who are actively involved with SCLT. As part of the Children’s Garden, several groups (including kids from the Davey Lopes Recreation Center, Bright Horizons, and the Urban League of Rhode Island) will visit City Farm once a week and participate in activities that teach them about ecology and food. The first group will arrive tomorrow, and under the direction of Leo Pollock, our director of programs, Dana has big plans to teach them about soil, compost, and plants throughout the summer. “I want them to learn that everything we eat comes from the dirt,” she says, “and get them involved in some art and cooking projects, too.”

The program runs for the next eight weeks, culminating with City Fest in late August. We are delighted to have Dana on board and know that she will do a great job instilling curiosity in the kids and getting them excited about growing veggies and other plants! Congrats to Dana on her new position.

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