youth

The Kids Are Alright: Burmese teens present on the importance of keeping traditions alive

Talar Hso (left) discusses the oral history project that the teens are conducting in conjunction with a folklorist at UNC. Not only are they learning more about their own culture, food, and history, but they’re also gaining skills in interviewing, documentary filmmaking, and public speaking.

Talar Hso (left) discusses the oral history project that the teens are conducting in conjunction with a folklorist at UNC. Not only are they learning more about their own culture, food, and history, but they’re also gaining skills in interviewing, documentary filmmaking, and public speaking.

“What does food justice mean to you?”

The Transplanting Traditions Youth Collaborative posed that question to a packed house at the Chapel Hill Public Library in late June. It was the perfect opener for the second installment of Farmer Foodshare’s “Learn with Us Speaker Series: Understand the Legacy of Race in Farming,” a lively discussion and presentation run entirely by the group’s teen members. It was broadcast on Facebook Live, but if you missed it, you can watch the whole thing now (and you should)!

WATCH NOW!

Transplanting Traditions’ mission is provide refugee adults and youth access to land, healthy food and agricultural and entrepreneurial opportunities, and Farmer Foodshare partners with them through our Community Foodshare program. The Transplanting Traditions Youth Collaborative has been built from the ground up by the youth involved, and through Community Foodshare and additional opportunities for community engagement, they’re able to translate family recipes, prepare foods for sampling, and actively promote broader access to the traditional Asian vegetables grown in our local community.

Watch the teens’ inspiring presentation HERE! 

Sofia Thein (right) explains the significance of the farm as a space for community-building and describes the mental health benefits the refugees experience from being able to grow familiar types of food in their new home.

Sofia Thein (right) explains the significance of the farm as a space for community-building and describes the mental health benefits the refugees experience from being able to grow familiar types of food in their new home.

What does food justice mean to you?

What does food justice mean to you?

Farmer Foodshare’s Whitney Sewell introduces Farmer Foodshare’s role in supporting the work of farmers and organizations like Transplanting Traditions.

Farmer Foodshare’s Whitney Sewell introduces Farmer Foodshare’s role in supporting the work of farmers and organizations like Transplanting Traditions.

Service in the Eyes of a Teen Volunteer

My name is Marin Lissy, and I’m a ninth grader in Chapel Hill. I’ve been volunteering with Farmer Foodshare since I was in the sixth grade—I wrote a few blog posts (like this one) and even created a “kid-approved” cookbook as a Farmer Foodshare fundraiser. 

Recently, I’ve started volunteering regularly at Farmer Foodshare’s Donation Station at the Chapel Hill Farmers Market. People often remark “You’re so young!” or ask me how old I am. While I guess it makes sense to me that they are surprised to see a young person volunteering, I wonder: why does it have to be that way? How can I change that?

BEYOND SERVICE HOURS

Why are people surprised to see young people volunteer? Teenagers are more often seen as being moody, self-centered, obsessed with their phones, and even trouble makers. Yikes! The truth is, though, that more and more young people are participating in community service.

According to the Corporation for National & Community Service, about 55% of youth ages 12-18 participate in some kind of volunteering activity. That’s almost twice the rate of American adults who volunteer (29%). 

So, how can we increase these numbers for both youth and adults?  

The main reason teenagers volunteer is in order to complete their volunteer hours requirement (25 hours are required for high school graduation in the state of North Carolina). Mandatory service hours are one way to encourage youth and teens to volunteer, but it shouldn’t just stop there. Engaging teens in service activities that cater to their interests and talents can have a positive impact and keep them occupied and productive.

WHY VOLUNTEER?

While I can’t say foodshare programs have always been my primary interest, but since I have been volunteering with Farmer Foodshare, I have grown to become quite fascinated with farming and bringing fresh food to “food deserts.” I also love to write, and writing blogs (like this one) for Farmer Foodshare is something that caters to what I enjoy. 

Volunteering with Farmer Foodshare, for me, is a way to escape from thinking about myself, and exposes me to a lot of truths about the world: some people don’t have access to their next meal, especially a healthy meal. Meanwhile, farmers can struggle to sell their produce in order to make a living.

Connecting with other people and working together to solve problems can help lead everyone to develop a strong sense of community between farmers, people who need food, and the people who help bridge the gap. 

It may sound cliche, but I’m always in a better mood after volunteering. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to contribute to people in my community. I would strongly encourage anyone to partake in some kind of community service, whether it be with Farmer Foodshare or another wonderful organization. And if you ever make it to the Chapel Hill Farmers Market on a Saturday morning, make sure to stop by the Donation Station and say hi!   

A Marin’s-eye-view of the Chapel Hill Farmers Market from behind the Farmer Foodshare Donation Station table.

A Marin’s-eye-view of the Chapel Hill Farmers Market from behind the Farmer Foodshare Donation Station table.