A bright stretch of farmland with hand-painted signs welcoming you in is not the first thing you would expect straight off the highway on the east side of San Jose, but that is exactly what you will encounter on South King Road. As an urban farm with a mission to “connect people through food and farming,” Veggielution seeks to preserve the agricultural history of the Santa Clara Valley.
During our class tour, the farm manager discussed how Veggielution has come to understand the importance of getting community input for a community space like an urban farm. In consideration of their Spanish-speaking local community, cooking classes hosted at Veggielution are conducted in Spanish with English translation available, rather than the other way around. The farm also has a program in place to hire and train members of the community about food-based entrepreneurship. It is also planning to start field trips to the farm for local middle schoolers.
I saw a connection between my Veggielution experience and readings about urban hazardous waste in the Bay Area through the engagement of the youth in a community, the generation with the means to build on the progress made before them. Whereas Veggielution grapples with its role in engaging and educating the youth who come to the farm, young activists in the EPA Youth United For Community Action (YUCA) organization are the ones taking it upon themselves to educate their community, as well as those from elsewhere, about environmental justice.
This goes back to a question that has come up during our weekly discussions: what is the most effective way to bring about change in a community? At the heart of it all, local grassroots efforts that are conscious of the needs of the community or come from within the community itself have consistently seemed to be the most impactful.