Meet the Charity:  Community Mercantile Education Foundation

themercGreen Wish Kansas is proud to support the Community Mercantile Education Foundation (CMEF) and their outstanding efforts in the local community.

CMEF was established in 1999 with a goal to provide nutritional education that promotes personal health and well being, strengthens our community, and supports sustainable and local food systems.  Their work has included projects like “Local Food to Local People, Expanding a Regional Food System Through Nutrition Education”, as well as working with the social services agency Van Go Arts and their summer JAMS program (Jobs in the Arts Make Sense) to bring fresh, local food to youth in the 8-week training program.

School GardensIn 2010, the Growing Food, Growing West (GFGW) Garden project was established, and in its first year drew hundreds of students and visitors to visit and study in “this living, outdoor classroom.”  Over 1000 pounds of produce was harvested from the Garden in its first year alone, with 280 pounds going directly into the school cafeteria.  The remainder was sold at a local farmer’s market to help raise funds to sustain the garden far into the future.

The GFGW Project:

  • Stimulated discussions across our community about the importance of making fresh, locally grown foods available to our school children
  • Created school pride and excitement
  • Increased students’ knowledge and acceptance of healthy, locally grown vegetables resulting in increased consumption of these foods
  • Created opportunities for students to teach each other about how delicious fresh produce is and for students to communicate their garden experiences to the community through various media including blogging and writing about it on Well Commons, preparing a community dinner and participating in the Kaw Valley Farm Tour
  • Provided leadership development and job training for six West students employed by Community Mercantile Coop to be West Garden stewards.

In 2011, CMEF has expanded to Hillcrest Elementary and Sunset Hill Elementary schools.  These three on-site school gardens are cared for by dedicated and inspiring Student Gardeners. Students are employed as a job training and leadership development program through The Merc Co-op. By their wonderful impact in the Lawrence community, children are learning about how to be good stewards of their own neighborhoods and the planet.

EVENT ALERT:  On July 27, the Community Merc Coop is holding a Running for Food, Running for Health 5K fundraising event!  Participation in the event directly assists CMEF and their local school gardens.  Register for the run today and help benefit the Merc and its school gardens program!