Leading the Way Out of America’s Food Desert

| August 6, 2013


IMG_6234A few weeks ago, 12 young intrepid food advocates joined Zomppa Education Director Leanne and her team for a weeklong Zomppa Summer Workshop focused on: Global Citizenship and Food Justice in Durham, NC. Held in donated space by the generous Terreiro de Arte e Cultura, a capoeira studio, the ZomppaKids shared, learned, and cooked. Leanne’s energy and wisdom is a powerful combination to excite and engage young children in topics that are often seen as “too complicated” for those below the age of 12. Yet she proves that kids not only can learn about tough subjects such as food scarcity, but can readily offer ideas. Take a listen to an interview with the Center for Documentary Studies (produced by the talented Nancy Leonhardt of the Catlin Gabel School and Sabine Muscat, a DC-based journalist with the Financial Times Deutschland). One of the ZomppaKids, Stella, offers some ideas herself:

Joining Leanne were three incredible young educators, Amira, Connor, and Molly.


Amira, as some of you already know, is a junior majoring in Nutrition Sciences at North Carolina State University. She is spending some time with us this summer as a Fellow, teaching and writing about her passion about food and food education. She’s an avid dancer, and loves to dance, run with her dog, read, and of course, eat interesting food. She was invaluable in logistics and planning, and was a wiz at getting everybody hyped about eating new foods.





Connor is the newest member of Sol Food Mobile Farm, Connor is a passionate educator and food advocate. Among his many talents, he is a song-singer and costume-wearer (making for a fantastic “king” during free play). He believes “a child learns best when they are smiling, and the most important lesson adults must teach children is that all life on Earth is unique, beautiful, and precious.”





IMG_6503Molly is a recent graduate from Bard College, where she studied clinical psychology with a particular interest in trauma related disorders. She believes malnutrition not only affects our bodies but our minds. Her calm, quiet nature was a natural draw for the more introverted children. She could be found engaged in quietly coloring side-by-side with our budding artists. Her lap was a prime spot during group meetings.





Eastern Carolina Organics generally donated some fresh produce and Bread Uprising some great bread. The Zomppa team spent the first day made some sandwiches to share with our friends at the Sweet Beet City Farm. Co-founder Emily-Kate and her friends shared with the kids about their burgeoning farm on eight formerly vacant lots in an area of Durham that had historically been a food desert. The second day was focused on water. In addition to the issues of hydration, the children learned about the animals in the sea and importance of clean water. Our friends at the Saltbox Seafood Joint talked about the local, sustainable fishing and even turned on their water hoses to for a spray-party!

No week would be fully complete without a trip to SEEDS-NC to visit their incredible community garden run by young food advocates. A kind farmer gave the children some fresh ears of corn on their trip to the Durham Farmer’s Market, and the children promptly shared with her the story of the Three Sisters that they had learned about earlier in the day.


The fourth day was focused on the importance of upcycling and recycling, with a visit from our dear Sol Food Mobile Farm. Needless to say, the ZomppaKids had a great time exploring the coverted schoolbus that is now a red mobile living space equipped with a functioning greenhouse, greenroof, and rainwater catchment. The week ended with an art show for parents and a special guest “appearance” via the wonderful world of the internet by Lucas of Rap for Food who so impresses everyone with his catchy music on food awareness.

Thanks again to all the ZomppaKids and their families, to all our friends and collaborators, and to you for supporting another great session to help raise food awareness for all!

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Category: Blog, Featured

About the Author (Author Profile)

With a flair for spontaneity, pizzazz, creative excellence and her own unique sense of aesthetic grace and perspective, we have our very dear friend, Belinda (or B, to some of us). Although an incredibly accomplished professional and career woman, B’s down-to-earth approach and demeanor transcends all scenarios, communities and people. She manifests, in her day-to-day, the essence of the word “Zomppa” as demonstrated by her extraordinary commitment to creating sustainable and positive change for us and future generations to come. She’s asked for a dog every year since she was five. Check out Belinda’s work on global education research and coaching: www.hummingbirdrcc.com or more about her portfolio www.belindachiu.com.

Comments (6)

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  1. Miz Helen says:

    Programs like this give me such hope, thanks Belinda!

  2. Thanks for the report Belinda! I was wondering how the summer camp/workshop went this summer. Really great to hear kids enjoyed this program! Keep up great work!

  3. Beth says:

    I love everything about this initiative, Belinda. If we teach our kids how to prepare good food, and help them enjoy real food, it just has to be good for the planet!

  4. Amy Tong says:

    What a wonderful summer camp for the kids. Both fun and educational. Kids these days are amazing, they could understand complicated subjects, easier than we first thought. So happy to hear the ZomppaKids had a great time. 🙂

  5. An educating and fun summer camp!

  6. Erica says:

    What a wonderful summer Workshop, Belinda!Learning about those interesting topics while having fun….Great idea!Would love to have a summer camp like that one around here.