Youth HUB Fellows: Dasha & Jessica

Jessica & Dasha Jessica & Dasha

One of my earliest memories is of a fuzzy, orange, hemispherical glob, lying in the dirt and dust at the foot of my great-aunt’s back porch. It seemed to be a peach: it had fallen from a tree, and appeared to be eaten by whatever wild animals my 4-year-old imagination could conjure up. What was strange to me, though, was that this peach was outside. My great-aunt told me it and all of the other peaches in her kitchen grew on the trees that started at her porch and continued down to the horizon. I didn’t want to be disrespectful and tell her she was wrong, but obviously someone was misleading her: food came from supermarkets, not from trees. When she finally took me outside to collect peaches with her, I was blown away by the orange orbs that hung plump from the branches of her trees.

I was born and raised in the city, and it surprises me when I look at a plant, and can recognize something edible buried between its leaves. In my opinion, the disconnect modern American’s have with their food is one of the wrenching side effects of consumerism. Instead of being a plant that we cultivate, or an animal that we raise, food has become a thing we consume. We are very familiar with our things: our iPads, our FroYo, our social media accounts. Yet we lack connectivity with our communities, and a deep understanding of the things we treasure so dearly.

My business partner, Jessica, and I, were lucky to have found a community of mentors and driven young people that have a similar drive to fix what some may deem the unfixable, but what we believe is essential for building a better world. After each session at Youth Impact Hub, I leave inspired by our dreams and initiative. The guidance and mentorship we’ve received has allowed an “it would be cool if...” idea I randomly cooked up to become a social enterprise that we will be pitching to investors on May 23rd.

Jessica and I have been working hard on MerryStem, a community garden planted in the households of the community. The basis of our idea is to educate and enable community members to grow a fruit or vegetable in their own homes, and to establish a bartering system between our participants. Not only will they have a chance to know their food better, but they will also know (or get to know!) the neighbors that grew their food, too.

I can’t express how excited I am that we’re getting this project off of the ground. As the seedlings for our beta test sprout, my heart does little skips, still in awe at how much can come from a teeny weeny seed. It’s just as exciting to see our enterprise grow, so get ready to hear more from us in the upcoming weeks!