Urban agriculture is a thriving industry with unlimited potential. It is not just about food, it is, first and foremost, about people and their relationship to food and the environment. My Fulbright-Millennial Trains Project journey continued to flourish while I met creative and innovative urban farmers in each city.
Fulbright Student from Iraq, Saja Al Quzweeni, on board the Millennial Trains Project
In New Orleans, I visited the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA). NOCCA is a regional, pre-professional arts training center that offers students intensive instruction in culinary arts, dance, media arts, music, theater arts, visual arts, and creative writing. The Culinary Arts Department offers a four-year course of study for talented students who aspire to be chefs. The Culinary Arts program was developed in collaboration with the Emeril Lagasse Foundation and is supported by Johnson & Wales University. The students are provided with the opportunity to work side by side with leading master chefs who serve as professional mentors.
Fulbright-MTP Train Participant Saja Al Quzweeni from Iraq, left, interviews Skeets Rapier, the Director of Operations at The Renewable Republic, about his aquaponics, solarpowered organic farm. Photo by MTP Train’s Jenny Gottstein
My Fulbright-MTP project is surveying the best practices in urban agriculture across different American Cities. The anticipated outcome of this journey is to design a holistic model of urban farming that connects people with their land and each other. Urban agriculture will be utilized to offer not just food, but also a terrain in which people come together and build their community.
The project started in Los Angeles where I visited, Women Organizing Resources Knowledge Service or WORKS. The organization’s mission is to provide affordable housing with affordable food for lower-income communities, and for people with disabilities and illnesses. My interview with Channa Grace, President of WORKS, inspired me as she used her personal experiences to leverage the status of the disadvantaged. WORKS also invites people to change their lives and adopt healthy eating habits through growing their own produce.
The U.S. Department of State selected the following six Fulbright Foreign Students to participate in the third Millennial Trains Project (MTP) voyage across the United States — leaving from Los Angeles, California on May 21 and ending in Washington, DC on May 31— as an enrichment component of the Fulbright Foreign Student Program. The Fulbrighters will join 19 American riders on the MTP journey to gain an in-depth understanding of life in the United States and to strengthen their skills in leadership, social entrepreneurship, and communication.
Meet the six Fulbright participants:
Saja Al Quzweeni is a Fulbright Foreign Student from Iraq
Saja Al Quzweeni is a Fulbright Foreign Student from Baghdad, Iraq, currently pursuing a master’s in environmental science and policy at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Saja’s MTP project is an extension of research she completed last year at Growing Power, a nonprofit organization in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that works in urban agriculture as an approach to increase food security in lower income and food desert communities. Small plots of land are used for intensive growing to offer healthy, affordable food to inner city communities, while merging agriculture and wise environmental practices to revitalize urban areas.