To present Wanda her award are her classmates, Ellen Nalle Hass and Carol Shelly will share the following excerpt from the submission statement presented to the Awards Committee by Wanda’s enthusiastic classmates.
“The SCH mission states that at SCH “we nurture students' knowledge of themselves and the world, expanding their full academic and personal potential while preparing them to lead lives characterized by thoughtfulness, integrity, and a quest to effect positive change.”
Wanda Stewart embodies this mission every day of her life. She is an alum who has dedicated herself to bettering her community and her world.
Wanda is an urban farmer and environmental education activist from Oakland, California. She is also a social innovator, community builder, and garden activist. She runs garden-based education programs for schools in Oakland, California.
Wanda is also executive director of the nonprofit Common Vision, which is dedicated to redistributing healthy food to feed people and build community resiliency. Common Vision takes a unique approach to school gardens, using fruit trees and other perennials to create extremely high-yielding, low-maintenance, and low-cost school gardens. Common Vision’s School Orchard Project provides fresh fruit to over 100,000 low-income children.
Wanda has been called a “tireless champion and architect behind the garden project at Hoover Hawks Victory Garden.” That garden is an inter-generational hub of healing, learning, and wonder for her whole community. Wanda noted in an interview that before the Hoover Hawks Victory Garden, West Oakland was known as a “food desert.” There were no grocery stores, and corner stores didn’t sell fresh food. She and others were inspired to grow food because students were hungry. Their goal was to show students they could grow their own food and create a place where they could be face-to-face with nature and understand their role in saving the planet. By teaching these students to care for the garden, they would learn how to care for themselves, their community, and their world.
On volunteer days, people come from all over the neighborhood to work in the Hoover Hawks Garden. Current students, alumni, parents, friends, and neighbors all come together. The garden builds new social relationships and stronger ties in the neighborhood. The garden plays a central role in seeding and growing all kinds of things, from plants to kids to families, flowing from seed to food to consumption and back again. This process is healing the hearts of their children.
“I want to be the best model for how to take care of your body, how to take care of the community and grow community, and how to take care of the environment.”
Wanda has been known to say “if you can grow a seed, you can grow yourself. My hope is to teach them to grow a seed and grow plants so they can grow themselves.”
Thank you, Wanda, for helping so many children to grow. We are so very proud.