Alexandria Morrison, Horace Mann Elementary School Community Garden

My name is Alexandria Morrison and I am a junior in the School of International Service
studying International Relations with interests in Global Health and Sustainability. Over the course of the semester I have been volunteering with two organizations that aid issues of food insecurity and general community health. The majority of my service this semester, roughly 25 hours so far, has been with the community garden at Horace Mann Elementary School in Northwest, D.C., which supports Friendship Place, a homelessness non-profit. However, I have also served Common Good City Farm for four hours, an organization that focuses on food security and health education within the community of LeDroit Park. Both organizations support their causes with community garden systems that have been put in place to educate the community and enable community members to be able to make the most knowledgeable decisions regarding their health.

At each site, I have mainly spent my time serving in the gardens directly, with a variety of physical tasks that help to keep the gardens functioning properly. At Horace Mann, I serve as the assistant to the garden coordinator. Some days I pull weeds for three hours straight, other days are spent planting garlic or preparing garden beds for the approaching winter season and maintaining the year round hydroponic towers. However, each Friday morning I consistently assist in an educational program for the pre-school students at Horace Mann who are learning the importance of proper nutrition and sustainability through hands-on lessons in the garden. Though I have not participated in this particular program, I am aware that Common Good City also has an after school program that provides an educational space for the children of the community to grow in the garden.

With previous experience in the District’s community gardens and nutritional
education programs, I went into this service opportunity excited to explore deeper into issues of food security. I had hopes of working directly with community members, on the issues that are important and valid in their lives. I cannot say that this directly happened. Previously, I was not as excited about working with children, however, this semester I have enjoyed my educational lessons more than I could have imagined. Though they may not realize that nutritional education and food security are issues that affect their lives and their communities, I do believe I am making an impact, though small, in the way they will deal with these issues in the future. I am grateful that I have been able to interact with a school that emphasizes the importance of the environment in educational practices, though I do realize that this is most definitely not the case in other public schools throughout this city, and rather an effect of the affluence of the community surrounding Horace Mann.

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