MLK Day marks 10th anniversary for Village Farm

MLK Day in Tucson

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - On Martin Luther King Day 10 years ago, a dozen people gathered on a small dirt patch near Campbell and River to turn shovels and rakes marking the beginning of the Village Farm.

The goal was to begin a teaching tool for urban children about how to grow their own vegetables, why it’s important and maybe a way to get them to eat their vegetables.

We know the Village Farm is a success. 13,000 school children visit every year. We do not know however, if its been successful in getting children to eat and enjoy vegetables.

But the kids, we know for a fact, have fun at the farm.

Every year, on MLK Day, the farm asks volunteers to come out to lend a hand doing things the staff would normally have to do.

Dig trenches, pull weeds, trim trees, shovel dirt - just doing the hard, laborious work they’d have to do on a farm.

Nearly 350 volunteers showed up on this day.

“The meaning behind the day is a day of service,” says Elizabeth Sparks, the Youth Development Assistant Agent at the farm. “So that’s why we want people to come here to give back for the day.”

It’s hoped the dozens of children who volunteered for the hard work realize the symbolism of the days.

“To fight for good causes, like he did for racism,” said 11-year-old Gianna Johnston, of Martin Luther King, Jr. “I learned that I can volunteer and things like that to help the world."

Al and Pete Defilippis, who emigrated from Italy, came out to help at the urging of their grandchildren.

“They have been the ones showing us the example of doing in,” Pete said, point to the two young girls standing with their mother, Tina Solis.

“They’re learning that its important to do for others, to help create community among people,” Solis said.

The farm is also expanding from its present half acre along Campbell Avenue to a six acre plat near the back of the U of A’s cooperative extension.

The volunteers marched onto the field and waved to an overhead drone which is being used to tape a documentary about the farm.

It’s also in the process of building a teaching kitchen following a nearly half million dollar grant from the Angel Charities which will complete the field to table process.

“Getting kids to eat vegetables and enjoying them and have fun while they’re doing it,” Sparks said. “That’s most important for me.”

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