Fair Food MattersFair Food Matters

Fair Food Matters (FFM) began in 2001 as an educational resource for food issues relating to health, environmental responsibility, and social justice. We provide food and garden-based learning opportunities for under-served youth in the Kalamazoo area. 

The gardening and environmental education programs facilitated by FFM at Woodward School have a new home within KNC’s Department of Learning and Engagement. The addition of this program will enable KNC to continue FFM’s mission to educate, connect, and empower youth experiencing systematic oppression, through food and garden-based hands-on learning experiences.

Fair Food Matters provides food and garden education because

Fair Food Matters... gardens are great places to learn.

We're inspired to create imaginative stories about vegetable superheros. Life science comes alive when we see our radish seeds sprout and look for insects. Geometry makes more sense when we find shapes and patterns in the garden.   

​... gardens help develop important life skills. 

We learn to work together as a team, to cooperate to get the job done, to have patience as our seeds grow, to express our feelings and listen to others, and to share the fruits of our labor. 

... gardens bring us together. 

College students and elementary students teach each other while working together. Retirees lend a hand,  neighbors come visit, and parents stop to chat. The garden is all about community! 

​... gardens nourish us.

We grow healthy, fresh, and delicious food in the garden. From the first spring strawberry to the last green onion in the fall, we enjoy eating what the garden provides. 

...gardens are wonderful places to grow.

FFM in the gardenFFM supports and coordinates garden activities at the local elementary school, Woodward School for Technology and Research. Woodward has several areas for vegetables, herbs, strawberries, and annual and perennial flowers. The small pond in the main garden always captures student's interest! The garden in back of the school supports pollinators with its certified monarch waystation. Over 300 students are involved in learning activities in the garden each year. Students learn how to garden organically from seed to compost and are excited to eat the fresh food they have grown. Ever had kindergarteners begging to eat broccoli?  We have!

FFM connects garden learning with state and national standards.  The garden is a great place to study math, science, language arts, creative arts, history, nutrition, physical education, and more.  The garden is a wonderful outdoor classroom. In partnership with Kalamazoo College's Center for Civic Engagement, we lead an after school group (Club Grub) that explores healthy eating, gardening, cooking, and nutrition.  We try new food, play games, and work together to make healthy snacks each week. Who knew food could be so much fun!   

When school is out for the summer, FFM hosts a weekly garden night. Students, families, neighbors, and community members are all welcome to join us and help keep the garden growing strong. In the summer, garden produce goes home with helpers or is donated to groups in need.

Working in food justice and education, we explore and utilize Anti-bias / Anti-racism teaching techniques to "support all children's full development in our multiracial, multilingual, multicultural world and give them the tools to stand up to prejudice, stereotyping, bias, and eventually to institutional 'isms'" (1).

About FFM

Brionne Fonville has transitioned from her role with FFM to serve as Program Director at the Kalamazoo Nature Center. She is charged with continuing the core work of FFM and with integrating that work into KNC’s farm-based youth programs. Fonville shared, “I am excited to join the KNC team and to have their support as we deepen our impact toward the goal of a food sovereign Kalamazoo. I believe that the missions of each organization complement one another. KNC’s commitment to the environment will enhance the scope of FFM’s food justice work, just as FFM’s equity lens will inform KNC’s work in connecting people to the natural world.”

Contact: Brionne Fonville