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#CommunityFood - Investing in the Future

Good food is fuel for our bodies…but a growing number of community organizations use food to truly empower the next generation.


Good food is fuel for our bodies…but a growing number of community organizations use food to truly empower the next generation. These organizations know that investing in and preparing a new, diverse generation of farmers, food entrepreneurs and advocates is critical to ensuring that everyone in every community has access to healthy, culturally appropriate, locally-grown and sustainably-produced food. 

“Investing in the Future” via young farmer training, farm to school programs, and other approaches to youth development through food systems is one of eight promising trends identified in “From the Ground Up: Inspiring Community-based Food Systems Innovations,” a publication commissioned by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and produced by the Wallace Center that highlights key themes and strategies that community food organizations are using to effect change. (see

This “Investing in the Future” webinar, the second of a four-part #CommunityFood series based on the findings of the report, features two organizations doing extraordinary work with youth. MA’O Organic Farms in Hawai’i presents about how their Youth Leadership Training program is shaping students’ livelihoods and restoring connections with the land, their culture, and their community. And Grow Dat Youth Farm in Louisiana speaks about their Advanced Leadership Program that supports youth as they transform their communities, their environments, and themselves. Join us as we dig into the nuts and bolts of how these organizations are teaching and inspiring the people they work with, uncover the best practices and lessons learned along the way, and share helpful resources.






Presenter Bios

J. Kukui Maunakea-Forth

J. Kukui Maunakea-Forth

J. Kukui Maunakea-Forth, WCRC Executive Director. Kukui was born and raised in the Wai`anae community. She holds a BA in Pacific Island & Hawaiian Studies and a BSc in Cultural Anthropology with over 20-years of experience teaching and managing non-profits.  She was recently a national fellow in the Kellogg Foundation’s Racial Equity and Healing fellowship program.

Gary Maunakea-ForthGary Maunakea-Forth

Gary Maunakea-Forth, Managing Director. Gary is responsible for overseeing agricultural production, expansion, and training of staff and volunteers.  He holds a BA in environmental studies and political science, and an MA in sustainable development. He was born and raised in the farming region of the Horowhenua in Aotearoa-New Zealand.

Cheryse Kaui SanaCheryse 'Kaui' Sana

Cheryse Kaui Sana, Farm Manager. Kaui is 28-years old, was born and raised in Wai`anae. She coordinates field crop production at MA`O, and was a graduate of our youth leadership training program in 2008. She has traveled widely as a representative of MA`O, having visited farms and explored indigenous food systems in Thailand, Italy and Aotearoa-New Zealand. She holds a BA in Hawaiian Studies and was a recent fellow of the Kamehameha School’s First Native Fellowship program.

Clara LyleClara Lyle

Clara Lyle is a native New Yorker with experience in kitchens, in classrooms, and on farms. She moved to New Orleans in 2013 to teach first grade before spending a year working as a line cook at Cochon Restaurant. In early 2015, she took off across the country with roving-restaurant Outstanding in the Field where she met dozens of farmers and chefs across the country. She returned home in 2016 to begin working with Grow Dat at the intersection of her passion for local, sustainable agriculture, food justice, and education. During her time at Grow Dat Youth Farm, Clara has written and implemented a new culinary program and launched a fundraising farm dinner series that has raised over $50,000 for the organization to date.  Clara graduated from Cornell University in 2012. 

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