With Executive Director Carol Gundersen
Food Literacy Project
Since 2006, more than 40,000 people have participated in planting, harvesting and preparing fresh food through Food Literacy Project’s hands-on Field-to-Fork program. The organization grew out of a demand recognized by farmer Ivor Chodkowski for access to a working farm where children and families could explore the story behind their food.
We spoke with Food Literacy Project Executive Director Carol Gundersen about the nonprofit’s mission and more.
About Food Literacy Project
“The Food Literacy Project transforms youth and their communities through food, farming and the land,” said Gundersen. “Utilizing a working vegetable farm as an outdoor classroom, school and community gardens, cafeterias and kitchens – and ‘Truck Farm,’ a mobile learning garden – we engage youth and families in the joy and power of discovering real food.”
Many of the youth and families Food Literacy Project works with are underserved and face obstacles to health and wellness. “We offer farm-based education, after-school clubs, family engagement programs and outreach programming via Truck Farm,” Gundersen said. “We also offer community-wide events at our expansion site, Iroquois Farm, in south Louisville on the site of the former Iroquois Homes housing complex.”
“We know that all people, especially young people, need more positive experiences with growing and preparing vegetables, the natural world and the community at large,” said Gundersen. “These experiences – planting a seed, tasting a new food, cooking a recipe from scratch – can be powerful motivators for people to seek out fresh, healthful food.”
How We Can Help
“The demand for our programs currently exceeds the resources we have, especially as we build on our success at Oxmoor Farm by expanding to Iroquois Farm,” explained Gundersen. “We rely on individual donations, foundation and government grants, volunteers and in-kind support to fulfill our mission. We invite those who share our vision – a healthy and equitable community where people and places thrive – to invest in this work by contacting us by phone, email, social media or (our website). Our annual fundraiser, the Field-to-Fork Dinner, is on Aug. 23, and tickets can be purchased through the link (on our website).”
Every day, Food Literacy Project engages young people in hands-on discovery through planting, harvesting, exploring and cooking together. “But our efforts are not just about getting kids to eat their vegetables; they represent steadfast dedication to quality, life-changing experiences that instill youth with the character, confidence and compassion to contribute meaningfully to their community,” Gundersen said. “It’s the same way we think about the food grown here on the farm: Quantity is not the benchmark – quality is. And while the youth learn important skills associated with farming, cooking and civic engagement, the real harvest is a crop of young people who, having tapped into their connection with the natural world, return to their neighborhoods with a spirit of empowerment, knowing they can grow into stewards of the land and their community.” VT