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Kin Schilling, who founded the Cornucopia Project in the Monadnock Region NH, teaches sustainable and nourishing life practices to children and young adults by connecting them to the land and commun
I first heard about Cornucopia Project and Kin when a friend encouraged me to attend her first fund raiser. I loved the idea that this woman was creating opportunities for children of all ages to connect to nature through gardening and learn all the lessons that had to offer. I felt this was really important work especially since I read a story about a boy watching someone pull a carrot out of the ground and said, "Who put it there?" How can we allow our children to be so disconnected from Nature?
The fundraiser, held on a beautiful August night, was on the triangle of land where Kin was growing her garden. Long tables adorned with white tablecloths, candles, and flowers from the garden were set up in the garden itself which overlooked an apple orchard heavy with apples and Mount Monadnock in the distance. Kin, with the help of others, cooked and served a delicious dinner which included vegetables that the children had grown. It was truly a magical night, a community sitting together under the stars with the earth beneath our feet.
I learned that Kin was given the one acre triangle near her home to use as she wished. She decided to put a garden in and start a CSA program. Children would see her working in the garden and asked her if they could help. It was really fun working with the kids and seeing them so engaged. She decided she would give a lower rate to CSA members who came gardening with their children.
As the saying goes, one thing led to another. Like the organic gardens she grew, Cornucopia also grew organically. Kin went to the elementary school and offered every class a row to plant of their choosing in the triangle, and the children could eat their harvests, recognizing this involvement in gardening could change the nature of school lunches. A neighboring school district soon asked Kin if she'd build raised beds for their elementary school. She did, and the gardens were tied into the curriculum. The middle school kids then built their own raised bed garden - they designed a sunburst with a bread oven in the middle of it.
I've watched Kin with her earthy hands and sun soaked face show four-year-olds how to pull radishes out of the ground and the look of amazement on the children's face in realizing they grew that radish. Kin is truly a mother earth of dirty hands and pure heart.
Today, Cornucopia's programs include creating a sustainable local food system through community gardens that provide for the community food bank, many school programs throughout the region, and education for making healthy eating choices.
One small act of letting children get their hands into the soil and discover the wonders of Mother Nature has led to a sustainable vision for all communities by growing food and giving back to those in need.
This story was submitted as part of Oxam America's International Women's Day initiative to honor women working to right the wrongs of poverty and hunger. Honorees are selected independently by Oxfam supporters. Selection does not imply endorsement or other support from Oxfam America.
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