While the concept of a field trip might conjure up images of packed school buses full of kids headed to the state capitol, zoo or museum; think instead about a small group of adults visiting various sites in our community that are part of the local food system. This summer, Sunrise Project’s Community Coordinators engaged in hands-on experiential learning at a range of sites that grow food, sell food and feed people as part of the Food Plan Equity Project. The field trips were organized on two different mornings that were jam-packed with information and exploration.
Community Coordinators visited two Common Grounds sites on one day of the field trips: Penn St. Community Gardens and Lawrence Community Orchard demonstrated to the attendees how formerly vacant city land can be transformed into vibrant community growing spaces. “It just amazes me that there are so many hidden gems like these sites all over Lawrence,” Community Coordinator Owie Tsosie reflected. Exploring the Common Grounds sites were Robin St. James’ favorite part of the field trips as well, “I’m proud to be part of a community that looks for and finds long-term, sustainable solutions to its problems.” The group also visited the Sunrise site at 1501 Learnard where Sunrise Project is renovating a portion of the former Sunrise Garden Center into a community kitchen, classroom and greenhouse learning space.
Touring Moon on the Meadow farm was Betty Pickerel’s favorite field trip experience where she gained an appreciation for the business-side of farming, “Farmer Jill Elmers is a dedicated, small-business woman in a challenging environment of hard work!” Community Coordinators also explored the gardens at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School and West Middle School, as well as Lawrence Farmers’ Market where the Market Coordinator discussed Double Up Food Bucks, a dollar for dollar matching program for SNAP benefits spent at farmers’ markets. While at the market, Community Coordinators browsed the vendors, did a little shopping and reflected on the experience and how it differs from shopping in a grocery store.
Another of the Community Coordinators’ favorite sites was Global Cafe, where owner Kate Gonzalez discussed the restaurant's dedication to keeping local food accessible and affordable. Kate shared the story of how Global Cafe came to be, the process of gathering and making their famous green chili sauce and then she graciously served up several entrees for everyone to sample. Lastly, a trip to Lawrence Community Shelter enabled the group to learn more about their kitchen and how people are fed throughout the day. While there, Community Coordinators toured the shelter’s warehouse where Drew vonEhrenkrook explained the various services the Shelter provides as well as the way in which mass donations from grocery stores are processed by the agency.
The field trips were only the beginning of what this Sunrise team will learn as Community Coordinators; in the words of Owie, “This was only the tip of the iceberg… I want to know more!”