Judea Lawton works at Common Good City Farm, a half-acre plot of land in the upper northwest of the District of Columbia. Common Good exists because of the District’s lack of available fresh produce. In cramped cities, corner stores often replace full-size grocery stores, providing residents a convenient place to shop, but they often don’t carry fresh produce. Common Good grows many vegetables on the farm and offers 5 lb. bags of produce to Green Tomorrows participants (local residents who are unemployed).
Currently, Lawton is living with a wealthy family in the Northwest until she can move into a place of her own. She is homeless. According to Lawton, many people who become homeless do so because they loose the ability to keep up with their lives; they get overwhelmed with the burdens of life and cannot survive under the weight. When faced with surmounting problems, however, Lawton was resourceful, figuring out how to navigate the city without a budget. She says you must learn the “free zones” in the city, the times of the day when you can get food for free, and also learn to stretch food stamps further than you think you can.
Lawton used to receive food through this program, and she now has become a part-time employee with Common Good: working the land, organizing community programs, and doing administrative tasks. Lawton works ten hours a week for Common Good, thus disqualifying her from receiving food through the program.
Lawton has had many jobs, most of them volunteer: CVS overnight cashier, Republican poll attendee, International Flower Show volunteer, Green Tomorrows Coordinator. Next month, Lawton will lead a new crop of Green Tomorrows participants, getting a chance to give back to the program that helped her. Lawton said that she used pray for God to give her a job working on His creation, and He did; Lawton has always loved to work the land, she says it must be part of her Native American heritage.
Poverty is not just monetary; it is also social, emotional and dietary. When living without means, it is important to find purpose in life, a sense of self-worth. Taking care of living things promotes empowerment and provides a chance to make change, and Lawton says that people who literally get their hands dirty are happier. Plants bring life, growth and hope. Lawton says, “If you breathe air, you’re an environmentalist.”
Copyright April 30, 2012