Resilient Roots Farm Summer- Spotlight Michelle Nguyen
Hello, my name is Michelle Nguyen, but everyone at the farm knows me as Mitchell. I am currently a Sophomore at Pennsauken High School and got involved with Resilient Roots this past summer (2019).
Most people would not expect me to get my hands dirty and do farm work, I was always into the musical arts instead, but this internship directed me into a new path that I didn’t realize would intrigue me. For the first two weeks of the internship, it was very workshop intensive, but there were days that we went to the farm to help out the Land Gourdians Student Farm Managers and show the Children’s SEEDS camp around the farm and do tasks with them. During our workshops, we talked about gentrification, food injustice, food sovereignty, the different forms of oppression against minorities as well as the dominant narratives that are placed upon Camden, New Jersey. This showed me a realization of the truth behind what’s truly going on in Camden and what we can do as youth of this generation to fix these recurring problems. Besides these topics, we also went through rotations of gardening, marketing, and cooking. Through these rotations I was able to learn healthy alternatives to my eating habits, where my food is coming from and how to grow it, pricing for fruits and vegetables and how to present them, and how to cook healthy but also delicious food.
This internship helped me grow as a person mentally as well as physically. This program grew my self-confidence and leadership skills. At first, I was very timid coming to a new environment, but as the program progressed, I learned how to stand up for myself and what I believe in and also learned how to help others along the way. In addition to those achievements, I learned how to look out my own body and actually enjoy being outside now. My favorite part of the farm is harvesting the produce that we have, it’s nice knowing that all the communities hard work led to the growth of the vegetable of fruit. Currently, I’m apart of Vietlead’s school program, JerseyRoots, where we continue to talk about the problems arising in minority towns and cities as well as helping out in the farm during work days. The farm will always be an important place to me because it was the one place that kept me going all summer.
About the Grantee
VietLead is a grassroots organization that strives to improve health, increase sovereignty, and develop Vietnamese leadership in solidarity through intergenerational farming; youth leadership; health navigation; policy advocacy; and civic engagement. Our Food Sovereignty and community garden program was built from seeing how food is an important part of how refugees practice self-determination.
Cohort: South 2
Funder: New Jersey Department of Health