Who We Are
I am Leah Michelle Lee, the founder of Growing Food Growing People. I am a storyteller, a social justice and food justice advocate, a daughter, mother, lover and friend. I am a Black Woman Farmer and I am here to heal my people and our land through healthy food accessibility and interacting with the soil. Growing healthy food and having my hands in the soil has changed my life. I have been blessed to see the impact both have on a broken community and a broken heart. I was introduced to this amazing life of farming in the most nontraditional way.
My father passed away in 2015. I am his only child and was responsible for cleaning out his home. To my surprise, his apartment was full of house plants. I had no clue my dad had a green thumb. I still have most of those plants today. In my dad’s transition, he left me the most precious gift, a reintroduction to the land. Although I’ve never farmed before, it’s who I am. My ancestors tended the land and now it’s my turn.
In early 2016, my neighbor, who has since become my friend, invited me to watch her dad help her start her patio garden for the season. I had no clue that I could grow food on a patio. It blew my mind, and I started right away.
The summer of 2016 was another life-changer. My children and I volunteered at a community garden. Not just any community garden, this one was on the roof, in the city. Mind blown once again. That same day, I went to my job at the YMCA and a friend showed me that we had a garden right behind the building. It needed some love and I was so excited. I chased the executive at the time down and practically begged him to let me take over the garden. In one growing season, we went from growing food in just three beds to all thirty-one. The YMCA is in the heart of the city of St. Louis, which happens to be where I live.
I live in an area where there is little to no access to healthy food. The crime rate is high and the morale is low in my community. I was over the garden until I left in 2020. In 2019 I started my nonprofit, Growing Food Growing People. Our mission is to grow food and people through healthy food accessibility and interacting with the soil. I know for sure that if we change what we eat we can change the way we think, and if we change how we think we can change the way we show up and change the trajectories of our communities.
During the pandemic in 2020, I was given an opportunity to really put my mission to use. I was literally growing food and people. I turned my backyard into an urban garden and began to nourish the bellies and souls of women in my community. We would meet and practice yoga and then get dirty in the garden. The vision became clearer and clearer. I began to dream of having my own farm school. I want to teach my people the magic of a regenerative way of living. I want to restore the idea of living off of this beautiful land. I have studied the last three years and have been taught some amazing things about the soil, but none of the educators looked like me. There is power in representation. My farm school will allow me to pour into people that look just like me and awaken the spirit of connecting with the land and empower them to begin to take their families back through healthy food accessibility and reconnecting to the land.
Leah M. Lee
"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy."
GFGP's mission is to grow food and people through healthy food accessibility and interaction with the soil.
GFGP envisions a world in which every community has access to fresh food and knowledge of what the soil can do for them and their loved ones.