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Social entrepreneur sprouts urban farming program to help inner city children live healthier lives in Charlotte, North Carolina

From left: Ryan Dunn with Earnest Porter and Aliya Hillian in the greenhouse at the Andrew and Walter Young Family YMCA in Atlanta. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Dunn)

“You see these kids going to school every day with a [soda and candy] bar and then they couldn’t sit still,” Dunn said. “They’d be full of sugar or hungry, and have a bad attitude or make bad decisions relating to others, and not understand why.”

By American Heart Association News
Feb 28, 2018


Dunn cofounded the nonprofit Next Generation Youth Center in 2013, a mentoring program serving kids on probation, and arranged for each to get a box of food from the food bank where the program met. He now works as an urban agriculture consultant, offering programs for students and community groups.

He said his lessons are rooted in the science of farming with the goal of producing healthy food-producing plants, but serve as allegory for the bigger life lessons of patience, perseverance and the importance of overall health and nutrition.

“The goal was to help them make healthy lifestyle choices – both for heart health and mental health – to give them an outlet to direct their energy and to teach them a skill,” Dunn said.

Dunn’s journey with aquaponics also sparked a business idea: using herbs grown in the greenhouse to create low-sugar beverages that could provide an alternative to soda and other sugary drinks. He recently launched a company called Basil Me LLC to find ways to reduce sugary beverage consumption and has begun selling his creations in Georgia.

Read the complete article here.