Philly food health: ‘Land-Based Jawns’ to ‘Freedom Greens’

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If it were your turn to help young adults in Philadelphia feel better and healthier, what would you do?

The five finalists of the Economy League’s Social Impact Incubator Well City Challenge have ideas on how to use food and nutrition to achieve this goal.

That could mean teaching people how to cultivate land and use it to survive, helping people learn how to get delicious flavors from nutritious greens, working with people to explore the various properties of their own bodies, or simply people Get together to enjoy meals while talking about spirituality.

After working with consultants to refine their idea, the entrepreneurs and activists behind those ideas will come together for a pitch competition on Wednesday March 3rd to argue in front of a jury why they made 10,000 US dollars in seed capital. They can raise an additional $ 7,500 for their project by getting the most votes from the audience.

Read below for what inspired her to start these ambitious projects.

For months after Ashley Gripper attended an annual retreat for the National Black Food and Justice Alliance, the term “land based” crossed her mind. “I’m a jaw from birth,” said the Philadelphia native. “My friends are pine. and many of us want or are land-based. “

From there came Land-Based Jawns, a new program that provides BIPOC women with education and training in natural farming, survival, food sovereignty and carpentry, and community healing – all of the skills expressed as essential in Octavia Butler’s “Parable of the Sower” . The novels are an inspiration, said Gripper, as were the violent responses to the 2020 Racial Justice protests and the lives of their parents Dawn Kipkin and Paul Gripper III.

The first LBJ workshop was held last Saturday when Gripper and her partners Laquanda Dobson and Desiree Thompson hosted an online discussion on “The Links Between Land, Agriculture, Spirituality and Black Liberation.” While balancing this project, Gripper is a farmer in training at Sankofa Community Farm and a full-time Ph.D. Environmental Health Candidate.

Adviser: Hermant Ramachandra, Director of Deloitte

Courtesy Ashley Gripper

For the chef and aspiring writer Joshua Bullock, who runs the Farmer’s Keep restaurant in Rittenhouse, eating has always been a form of therapy. He uses cooking as an ointment for anxiety and panic attacks and enables him to reconnect with his surroundings, including his family. “If my wife and I have problems, we go into the kitchen and cook together, which opens up the lines of communication,” he said.

He envisions bringing that connection to other Millennials with Philly Food Therapy. The contemplated “Healthy Holistic Eating Experience” will help people use healthy ingredients and get physical while preparing delicious meals.

Agent: Jared Ranere, partner at THRV

As a graduate student at Jefferson studying mental health and trauma counseling, Jie Bin Chen was intrigued by the role of food in creating identity and overall wellbeing. “They are not as separate as we might think,” he said. His studies looked at the three “brains” that control human behavior: that in your head, your stomach and your heart, which led to his idea of ​​combining them into a therapeutic program.

Before Chen moved to Cape May County, New Jersey, Chen was born and raised in China. He now lives in South Philly and brings a social work background to the project by helping people fight drug abuse, homelessness and Holocaust survivors.

Consultant: Dan Rhoton, Director of Hopeworks

Jie Bin Chen from BGH Wellness Courtesy of Jie Bin Chen

At the height of the pandemic and protests last summer, Mt. Airy resident Jiana Murdic worried that food deliveries were becoming sporadic. She diverted grants to ensure neighbors were getting fresh produce through their Get Fresh Daily boxes – then realized she could help them turn the vegetables into delicious meals too. She started virtual cooking courses and has been running them for 40 weeks at a time.

Murdic also hosts an after-school program, spring and summer camps, virtual events that focus on plant-based cooking, and a support group for black mothers. With Freedom Greens and Gardens, she hopes to foster an appreciation for ancestors who relied heavily on the healing powers of plants and herbs by teaching people how to plant, grow, and use them. They are useful “in every facet of our lives,” she said, “from foods and teas to skin care and aromatherapy.”

Consultant: Donavan West, founder of Black Business Accelerator

Jiana Murdic has been running virtual cooking classes for 40 weeks in a row Courtesy Jiana Murdic

A trio from South Philadelphia Shtiebel, a tiny synagogue that opened a little over a year ago, envisions bringing millennials together through food, coffee, and religion. “We wanted to create a warm and welcoming environment where people of different faiths could connect, and what better way to do this than through food?” Said co-organizer Rena Pressman.

The model worked well before the pandemic, she said when Shtiebel Rabbanit Dasi Fruchter entertained several dozen people in her home for dinner every Friday evening. The meals attracted people from the community as well as neighbors and friends, who all got together over dinner, had good conversations, and went out with some new friends.

Adviser: Sally Guzik, General Manager of CIC Philadelphia

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