Engaging Youth from Seed to Spoon

Published in the Weakley County Press, August 15, 2019

The youth attending Martin Housing Authority’s summer camp and afterschool program, who also participate in Student Culinary Council, formed a group call “Stone Soup” at the Martin Enrichment Academy(MEA). With collaborative support from the MEA Staff and the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network (LFN), students have planted and tended to various herbs, fruits and vegetables in their raised bed gardens located onsite. The harvested products grown from their garden will be used to make a community soup dinner for their “Stone Soup Project” that they themselves have cultivated, harvested and prepared.

The Martin Enrichment Academy Stone Soup harvesters harvested (and counted) 420 cherry tomatoes, 24 heads of salanova lettuce both green and red varieties, a bouquet of fresh basil and garlic chives for use in their Stone Soup Community Dinner.

“This project comes around full circle,” stated Samantha Goyret, Executive Director of the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network, “because it not only reconnects youth to their food sources, but also involves their families, their friends, their neighbors and their community who will all benefit from their Stone Soup community dinners.”

The food preparation will take place at the University of Tennessee at Martin’s Sodexo kitchen with Executive Chef, Andrew Miller, who will work hands-on with the Student Culinary Council members teaching them basic culinary and food safety skills.

Executive Chef, AJ Miller, teaches the Stone Soup “Student Culinary Council” food preparation and food safety best practices. The students, guided by the Chef, roasted and cooked a creamy roasted tomato basil soup, and made herb infused crackers in preparation for the event.

The “Stone Soup” Community dinners will take place at the Tom and Ann Stuart Community Center, located centrally within the Martin Housing complex. The dinners are open to the residents living at Martin Housing and student family members on Friday, August 16, 2019 at 5pm on a first come, first serve basis, for 100 people.

The Stone Soup Project has helped our children be engaged in a complete and comprehensive learning experience,” stated Robert Nunely, Program Director of the Martin Enrichment Academy, “The project highlights our program motto ‘Learning by Doing’. We couldn’t do this without our partnership with Sodexo and the Local Food Network,” he said.

Stone Soup dinners are made possible through a Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation grant whose mission is to ensure every child in the U.S. grows up with dependable access to enough nutritious food to enable them to lead a healthy, productive life. Sodexo USA’s mission is to improve quality of life and their responsibility is to preserve it.

Collaboration with the NWTN Local Food Network, a local nonprofit organization, is serving the children and MEA staff to be a catalyst for a thriving local food system that is accessible to ALL. The mission of the Martin Housing Authority, a nonprofit organization, is to become a regional leader and entrepreneurial force within the housing industry by providing quality housing while developing and implementing programs and services that promote independence, self-sufficiency, upward mobility and a better quality of life.

“A rich man’s soup – and all from a few stones. It seemed like magic!”
― Marcia Brown, Stone Soup

The “Stone Soup” Project involves youth attending the Martin Enrichment Academy who plant, cultivate, and harvest various herbs, fruits and vegetables in their onsite raised bed gardens to prepare community soup dinners.