Through rural and urban agriculture, community gardens, and environmental justice work, Rooted In Community (RIC), located in Berkeley, California, aims to provide a place for youth to take leadership roles and fosters the growth of healthy communities, food sovereignty, and social justice.
In 1999, the American Community Gardening Association and The Food Project joined forces to hold the first RIC meeting. The two organizations recognized that there was a need for a youth community agriculture group after realizing that youth attending a variety of national conferences were not receiving the support they were looking for. The goal of the first meeting was to start a conversation about and begin to build a national movement for youth to play a larger role in their food and environment. Today, RIC states its mission as “a national grassroots network that empowers young people to take leadership for food justice in their own communities-the space for youth from excluded communities to have voice and influence on their own futures. We are a diverse movement of youth and adults working together in urban and rural agriculture, food sovereignty and social justice. Our purpose is to build capacity so that people can create health for themselves and their communities.”
Today, after almost 15 years, RIC works with more than 100 local groups across the United States and Canada, offering a variety of projects and activities in which youth and adult members can take part. Currently, there are eight different categories for activities and projects including Movement Building, the RIC Indigenous Youth Leadership Program, the RIC Youth Entrepreneurship Program, Communication Tools, Capacity Building and Technical Assistance, Building Public Awareness of Youth as Community Builders and Change Agents, Constituency and Community, and Governance and Management. The skills gained in these projects and activities range from public advocacy, public speaking, media, and outreach skills to taking part in the planning of and making presentations at the yearly conferences. RIC lends support and assistance to local groups looking to build movements and adult members act as mentors for the youth. Members are made aware of and given knowledge about food and social justice, food security, genetically modified foods, and other food system issues, with hopes that members will eventually have the vision and leadership abilities to make a difference.