For proof that necessity truly is the mother of invention, look no further than D.C. Greens. The community-driven strategy behind the Washington, D.C.-based organization brings families what they are sorely missing—healthy, sustainable, and affordable nutrition. Executive director and co-founder Lauren Shweder Biel first took note of the abominable obesity statistics for D.C. youth in 2009, but also saw all of the functional, farmable land and farmers’ markets around the District, and wondered: why the disconnect?
With D.C. Greens, she’s bridging that gap with eduction initiatives to teach youth about why sustainable nutrition matters. But, as she notes, access needs to follow information. Along with teaching kids about nutrition, and educating future “garden teachers” to staff some of D.C. 90-plus school gardens, D.C. Greens has established school garden markets right outside the classrooms, ensuring that kids who farm the food are also responsible for selling it to their local communities. Overall, the schools turn profits, and D.C. residents can access locally grown and fresh produce.
Another one of D.C. Greens’ initiatives is equally as creative, and involves taking their work outside of the classroom and into the doctor’s office. The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, launched in 2012, allows doctors to write at-risk residents prescriptions which work as currency in D.C. Greens farmers’ markets. Families can access produce (for free!) and build a cornerstone of healthy habits. The results? BMIs are decreasing and the number of doctor check-ups are increasing. D.C. Greens’ innovative programs prove that understanding and having access to good food can empower a community to dig deeper into their local roots and bloom.
Lauren Shweder Biel is being honored as a Mother of Invention by Toyota and Women in the World for her organization’s tremendous impact on the D.C. community. Watch below to hear in her own words how she watched the seeds of D.C. Greens grow.