Today we made an opportunity to collaborate with the GRIP gang prevention program to inspire youth into positive activities and relationships around agriculture. To make our presentation more interesting and relevant to these 5th graders of Ranchos Elementary School, we brought four members of our Sembradores youth-in-agriculture team: (from L to R) Dion Martinez (9th grade), Jesus Gonzales (12th), Miranda Romero (10th), and Bernadette Valerio (9th).
We talked about how it makes sense that gangs would form when other cultural forms of community are unraveled in the modernization of the world. Where we all used to participate in agricultural activities as a community to feed ourselves (locally that was manifested as acequia cleanings, matanzas, and the like) we now do not depend on one another and help each other out to fulfill our needs. So gangs have formed to take the place of a community that was once defined by more camaraderie. We emphasized that we still have an opportunity to reconnect with each other in meaningful ways through agriculture and other mutualistic activities.
I was really proud of these students, they were awesome in their articulation of their thoughts and experience around local food production and our agricultural programs. This kind of activity is particularly important for our program in that we are creating conditions for agricultural mentorship for youth who then in turn serve as an inspiration for even younger youth.