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Youth Services Center

La Cocina Verde (“The Green Kitchen”) is a collaborative effort among YSC, APS, the local Extension Office, La Plazita, NMSU, Farm to Table, and the national Food Corps program. La Cocina Verde launched in October of 2014 with an outdoor hoop garden (economically achievable greenhouse) within the secure perimeter of the facility, and has since mushroomed – pun intended – into a program that is fully integrated into the residents’ daily program schedule.

We follow the Growing the Classroom Garden guide, and in addition to hands-on experiential learning activities involving everything from making healthy foods to food system designs, through subject-expert speakers residents also learn about issues involving food justice, food as medicine, bees as VIPs, and not being fooled by food marketing. Residents also learn where to find affordable locally grown organic foods, how to identify non-GMO products, and professional paths available to those with green thumbs. The residents – and staff – especially enjoy participating in taste tests with concoctions of their own creation, such as organic cupcakes.

It should be noted that La Cocina Verde was preceded by YSC’s participation in SEEDS: A Collective Voice (see the video here) which is a series of murals made by artist Jade Levya with community members over the course of a three year term. Ultimately there will be 12 in total, which will exhibit together at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Summer of 2016. Each mural is unique and tied to the theme of ancient seed preservation and the importance of developing sustainable growing practices within our own communities. The murals are large mosaics made exclusively with thousands of hand-dyed seeds. The one made by the girls unit at YSC was selected as a feature piece for the Artscrawl in October of 2014. It is otherwise on permanent display in the visitation area of the detention center.

 

 

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