January 23, 2016

Green Urban Lunch Box takes gardening on the road

The Green Urban Lunchbox participated in a Partners in the Park event put on by University Neighborhood Partners last summer. These summer events are held annually in several west side parks to inform local residents about higher education opportunities.   Photos by Jewel Morgan, courtesy of UNP Aaron Porter from Green Urban Lunchbox shows off the school bus that they modified into a mobile garden at Jordan Park during a summer event put on by University Neighborhood Partners.
The Green Urban Lunchbox participated in a Partners in the Park event put on by University Neighborhood Partners last summer. These summer events are held annually in several west side parks to inform local residents about higher education opportunities.   Photos by Jewel Morgan, courtesy of UNP|Aaron Porter from Green Urban Lunchbox shows off the school bus that they modified into a mobile garden at Jordan Park during a summer event put on by University Neighborhood Partners.|| The Green Urban Lunchbox participated in a Partners in the Park event put on by University Neighborhood Partners last summer. These summer events are held annually in several west side parks to inform local residents about higher education opportunities.   Photos by Jewel Morgan, courtesy of UNP|Aaron Porter from Green Urban Lunchbox shows off the school bus that they modified into a mobile garden at Jordan Park during a summer event put on by University Neighborhood Partners.|| |||
By The West View

If it weren’t for the brightly illustrated vegetables painted on its sides, the thirty-five-foot yellow school bus rolling down the streets of Salt Lake City would look like any other, but this bus is different, it is Green Urban Lunch Box’s mobile greenhouse. On the inside, lining the walls where the school bus seats would be, are garden beds, growing a variety of plants and vegetables.

Now in its fifth summer, the Green Urban Lunch Box traverses Salt Lake City in their mobile greenhouse teaching residents how to grow fresh food and helping people connect with the food they eat. Director Shawn Peterson wants to get people excited about eating healthy and eating local, but more importantly he wants to empower residents in urban environments to grow their own food using existing resources available in their communities, a venture he admits “sometimes requires a little creativity” just like their imaginative school bus.

Green Urban Lunch Box uses their modified school bus for outreach efforts, so it can be seen parked at local festivals, like the Rose Park Community Festival or at local schools, giving kids and neighbors an opportunity to hop on board the bus and gets hands-on experience witnessing how food goes from seed, to plant, to table.

The mobile greenhouse is just one of four programs that the organization currently runs, including a community orchard in Davis County that teaches young farmers about commercial agriculture, a fruit share program that allows residents to register their fruit trees with the organization and share the harvest with those in need, and Back-Farm, a program that pairs elderly community members with a volunteer to help transform the community member’s backyard space into a fertile community garden.

The Back-Farm program has been helpful in not only providing elderly community members a chance to actively maintain their own garden space that they might not otherwise be able to physically maintain, but they can also learn all about organic gardening with the assistance of a volunteer. Both the community resident and the volunteer benefit by sharing the harvest with one another, but more importantly as Director Shawn Peterson observed, "they benefit from creating meaningful cross-generational connections" through weekly garden visits.

Green Urban Lunch Box is on track to harvest over 10,000 pounds of food this year from its various programs and according to the group’s blog, they have already donated a lot of that harvest to immediate hunger relief organizations in the area. The fruit share program donates a third of the fruit harvested from neighborhood trees to hunger relief in the community, after distributing a third of the fruit to the tree-owner and a third to the volunteers that help harvest.

Residents with fruit trees who are interested in registering their trees with the Fruit Share Program, should check out their website for more information at http://thegreenurbanlunchbox.com/fruitshare/ or contact the organization at 801-318-1745 or .