Mill City Grows fosters food justice by improving physical health, economic independence and environmental sustainability in Lowell through increased access to land, locally-grown food and education. We envision that Lowell will be known for its innovative approach to food production and food justice where residents are engaged actors in creating a food secure community that promotes the ability to grow, consume, and distribute healthy, locally produced food on land that is seen as a vital resource for the community and is protected for food production. Christopher Horne, Food Corps Service Member
As a recent graduate from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Christopher Horne earned a bachelor of arts in economics in 2014. His college experience was definitely unique. He participated with a couple other students in the 2013 UMass Lowell DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge for Sustainable Environment and won first place granting them an opportunity to use school gardens as a way to educate children about the importance of food nutrition and urban gardening. While their focus was initially on rooftop gardening, the schools approved setting up an urban garden. Part of their research included becoming directly engaged with Lowell’s own Mill City Grows. Christopher became a volunteer for Mill City Grows after winning, and this became one of the key organizations that would help his team establish a garden at a local senior facility and at a public school. For Lowell, this project was immensely successful because these young leaders provided community members of all ages gardening opportunities. While Christopher may have started as a volunteer with Mill City Grows in order to discover more about urban gardening, Christopher has become a valuable asset to this small non-profit organization by assisting with the Mill City Grows’ mobile famers market and becoming the first Food Corp Services Member. He shared a lot about the roles he now played in Lowell’s public school systems. He has impacted small change in a big way with our local youth. Part of his responsibilities includes building positive relationships with Lowell’s educators, lesson planning on food security, gardening and partnering with Project Bread to let youth learn easy recipes and try fresh produce and some straight from the source, their own school garden. Christopher is thrilled to work with the Lowell public school system and enjoys the students’ excitement in learning about the food we eat. Lessons like how to start seedlings paired with recipes that include seeds give these youth a chance to make choices about what they eat. When students tell Christopher how they now read the nutritional information on the back of products they eat shows that the work Christopher is doing is changing the way these young people interact with their world. While this may seem small, creating impressions in young minds create healthy foundations for tomorrow. Christopher will be teaching students about food nutrition until the end of the school year, and he plans to continue as a Food Corp Service Member next year, too. Mill City Grows continues to grow and develop new community gardens, share their gardening knowledge with community members, and bring people together around a common goal to improve food justice and food production throughout Lowell.