Schenectady's Roots and Wisdom a growing experience

Roots and Wisdom sponsored Be Vocal Eat Local week from July 22-28. The large community service project was supposed to raise awareness about the importance of eating locally grown food. The teens created fliers and educated residents at local supermarkets.

The group also presented Veggie Theater at the St. Luke's Farmer's Market, where the teens made up skits and raps about different vegetables and eating locally.

Belmar and fellow education and leadership cultivator Rachel Nevins, 17, a graduate of Niskayuna High School, organized the event.

Nevins said the group learned how eating locally grown food can stimulate the local economy because the money goes directly to the farmer and circulates back through the community.

"It's like the movie theater downtown," Belmar said. "Why would I see a movie anywhere else? I'd rather support my community by visiting my local theater."

Belmar said the community was really supportive of Be Vocal Eat Local week. The city council passed a resolution naming July 22-28 Be Vocal Eat Local Week, and the county's Chamber of Commerce became involved by asking local restaurants to buy a portion of their produce from local farmers.

Nine restaurants jumped on board, including Castelo's, Cella Bistro, Cornell's, Glen Sanders Mansion, Morrette's, Parisi's, Petta's, Scotti's and the Turf Tavern.

"The feedback we got from the community was really positive," Belmar said.

Besides learning about local food, students with Roots and Wisdom learn about different vegetables including leeks, all types of peppers and eggplants and different herbs. The students give demonstrations during the farmer's markets. They also learn how to keep the correct flowers in the garden to attract the right type of bugs, about nutrition, how to help the community.

Nevins said the group begins each day with some sort of game or activity then set to work weeding, harvesting, planning and organizing.

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