Community farm in Dunbar helps educate local children outside the classroom

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FORT MYERS

A Southwest Florida farm helps children who lack resources outside of school learn about the environment. The Dunbar Urban Community Farm strives to ensure that children learn during the hours when they are not in class.

The farm is owned by the CEO of the Mentor “I Will” Foundation. The Urban Community Farm is a place where everyone can learn about the environment, water conservation, healthy eating and how to grow their own produce, but the education doesn’t just happen indoors of the farm. It starts at the entrance.

Driving along Flint Drive from Martin Luther King Boulevard in Fort Myers, you might see familiar faces, Oprah, Kamala Harris, even Johnny Streets. “The mural, we use it to encourage self-esteem and also to build history, and for young people to understand where they come from so that they can understand the future and where they need to go” , said Dr. Jesse Bryson, Founder and CEO. of the “I Will” Mentor Foundation. Dr. Bryson believes that children need to understand the past to improve their future.

The “I Will” Mentoring Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides hands-on learning opportunities for children in the fields of Environment, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or ESTEM .

Behind the murals, Bryson built the Urban Community Farm. A place where kids and anyone else can come to learn about healthy foods. “We want to be able to teach them how to cultivate it. Give them a place to grow it and keep them eating healthy and hopefully changing many illnesses that are really associated with low income families,” Bryson said.

From collard greens to cabbage, tomatoes, kale and more, Dr. Bryson wants his fresh foods to not only keep people healthy, but also bring his community together in one place and around faces that inspire them.

“We can work together, in small steps, one vegetable at a time to change community, to change relationships, to build relationships, and also to be able to eat and enjoy each other,” Bryson said.

The community farm not only educates and brings people together, it also helps feed people.

“It was an abandoned piece of land that the city chose to give us, and we tried to make good use of it,” Bryson said. “We are focused on growing organic produce in a food dessert community. »

The farm has donated the food it grows to feed the local community throughout the pandemic, donating around 60-80 pounds of food per week. The food is intended for community cooperatives, churches and organizations that help feed veterans.

On Monday, FGCU students helped collect food for donation. “This community farm here at I will mentor is going to help the community by giving them more nutritious food and enabling citizens to have access to nutrition that will benefit health and cause so much growth in the community,” FGCU said. Freshman Emma Rodriguez.

“I think it gives them a sense of pride,” Bryson said.

The Urban Community Farm grows healthy food and creates a sense of community, one vegetable at a time.

Dr. Bryson also teaches nutrition, yoga and tai chi classes. He hopes the farm will soon be the place where all elementary, middle and high school students can come for field trips or hold classes to learn about the environment.

You can learn more about the “I Will” Mentoring Foundation on their website by clicking here.

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