Plant Power! Sustainable Foods Systems Students Host IACS Plant Sale

On Tuesday, May 10, high schoolers, middle schoolers, teachers, and plant enthusiasts alike were all lined up on the middle school patio as they visited and purchased from student-run plant sale booths.

Photograph by Natalie Williams

The plant sale was organized by the Sustainable Foods Systems class, where 11th and 12th grade students taught by Anna Cynar learned about the environment, sustainability, and all about the food system, food sovereignty, and food insecurity. “For this class we learned food security and food sovereignty is priceless,” senior Jaylynne Ogbeide said. 

To prepare for the plant sale, students learned about our food system and the challenges it is facing, then researched and pitched ideas of organizations they thought would improve it. In the end, students ended up voting on Soul Fire Farm, a New York farm run by farm activist Leah Penniman.

“They’re really focused on creating safe and supportive resources for Black and Indigenous farmers who have been left out of grants and funding, in terms of securing land and securing equipment,” Cynar said. 

Photograph by Natalie Williams

Ogbeide was one of the students that pitched the idea to support Soul Fire Farm. “They are strongly for giving land back to Indigenous farmers and also for providing land for Black farmers. Black farmers have lost billions of dollars worth of produce, land, and just money in the past several decades and even hundreds of years due to racism and racist laws,” she said. 

All of the proceeds from the plant sale are going to Soul Fire Farm to support the Afro-Indigenous farmers. Patrons of the sale only needed to pay a penny or more for the plants, and they were greeted with a wide selection.

Jaylynne Ogbeide photographed by Natalie Williams

“It’s just a big plant fiesta!” said junior Drew Picard. “We have been growing peppers, we’ve grown squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, we have bean seeds, we have microgreens. We have pretty much a variety of things.”

When looking around the plant sale, it was clear that everything was student-run. Students of the Sustainable Foods Systems class sat at tables with the plants they had grown, ready to answer the questions of any potential plant buyer. They collected the plant payments and gave change back. They even passed out mini chocolates as thank yous for supporting the event. 

“The students grew everything that’s here since March,” Cynar explained. 

Photograph by Natalie Williams

The plant sale isn’t the only project the class has completed with the goal of helping communities and people with food sovereignty issues. “We also made soup and donated the money we got from the soup for Ukraine and to help with food issues in Ukraine. Last year we also sold plants and gave to a local organization to help with food hunger,” Picard said. 

The Sustainable Foods Systems class has opened up the minds of many of the students taking it. Ogbeide reflected, “It’s been great. I’ve learned so much about food sovereignty, food insecurity, and it really has made me think about the food system and how our generation should be the ones to improve it.”

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