One of POP’s new program partners this year is Get Fresh Daily. Get Fresh Daily is an organization that provides wellness education through culturally relevant programs that center the Black community in Philadelphia. As the founder of Get Fresh Daily, Jiana Murdic brings over fifteen years of experience from her work in the areas of strategic and social marketing, program development, and education. Anyone who has seen Jiana in action knows that she is incredibly passionate about working with youth. A few of the POP staff had the opportunity to visit Jiana at Global Leadership Academy at Huey Elementary next to Malcolm X Park in West Philly. During one of our visits, we took measurements for a base map of the garden space. The base map will be used to draft an orchard design to hopefully plant some new fruit trees, berries, and companion plants in the space in 2023. Immediately, I noticed that Jiana exudes a bubbling warmth that is contagious. As we walked through the yard, several kids ran up to Jiana and latched onto her side as we toured the space. It was so clear that these kids felt comfortable being themselves in the presence of Jiana and the other adult GFD volunteers. They were giggling, asking questions about the measuring process, and even helping out. Food and garden education programs such as Get Fresh Daily offer such a unique experience for children because the kids can build meaningful relationships with adults and each other in a setting outside of a traditional classroom.
Get Fresh Daily divides their programs into a few main components: wellness programming and youth programming. Their wellness programming includes wellness workshops or customized wellness consultations. There are age-inclusive workshops on themes such as Plant-Based Cooking 101; Laugh & Wellness Classes; Afro Vibes Dance Workshops; Mindfulness to Reduce Anxiety and more. Through the GFD wellness consulting program, organizations can receive a customized wellness program that is tailored to their specific needs. In terms of youth programming, GFD offers a few different options. Camp Excellence provides kids with the opportunity to make plant-based meals and snacks; gardening; cooking art classes; cultural field trips, swimming lessons; and lots of fun and play. Glowing and Growing mini camps offer a space for young girls and teens to connect with themselves, each other, and the natural world.
Jiana founded Get Fresh Daily with the intention of spreading knowledge about healthy living to local communities. However, as Jiana deepened her connections with children and neighbors, she quickly realized that she wanted to provide more direct food services to the community. Why was this so important to Jiana? Food justice was a driving motivator. In an interview with the Philadelphia Citizen, Jiana shared, “We’re saying all these things about wellness and healthy living, but you’re looking at your environment and saying, ‘OK, I hear what you’re saying, but what I have access to is this corner store that doesn’t have healthy food.’” Jiana quickly took action. She applied for the Well City Challenge, a social impact competition calling for solutions to the millennial health crisis that offered $50,000 in support to Philadelphians with ideas focused on wellness. The idea was a simple one: GFD now provides a monthly food box to millennial parents that includes healthy, simple ingredients.
Structural racism in Philadelphia and across the country has caused deep stratifications in our communities. While dismantling structural racism will necessitate widespread social change, increasing food access to marginalized communities is one avenue toward this change. The food boxes are one such opportunity for families, particularly Black families who live in under-resourced sections of the city, to access healthy food at affordable prices. This is where our partnership with GFD began– once a month for the duration of the 2022 harvest season, POP donated their weekly harvest from the POP Learning Orchard at The Woodlands to GFD. Some of our donations included fresh black-eyed peas, crisp collard greens, juicy tomatoes, spicy herbs, and sweet figs. Each week, Jiana drove up to the orchard and we filled her car with pounds of fresh produce. Each visit, we were excited to hear what was planned for donations. Some of the donations were placed directly into the food boxes, while other ingredients were incorporated into cooking demonstrations and community meals such as stews and stir fries.
Jiana writes, “We had an amazing season collaborating with Philadelphia Orchard Project! Their monthly donation of freshly harvested fruits, veggies and herbs from their farm were distributed to our community via our Mini Market Pop Ups. We used some of the fruits and vegetables in plant-based cooking demos and invited the community to try them. It was a dynamic, delicious and intentional boost to our Wednesday programming that we all enjoyed!”
Our partnership has continued to unfold, even as the weather cools and the growing season comes to a close. On a chilly afternoon in November, Jiana brought a van full of kids to the Learning Orchard at the Woodlands to experience an orchard tour with Corrie and Erika and a self-guided scavenger hunt. The kids split off into groups of two or three to identify different features of the orchard– a fig tree, the orchard’s water source, and they even practiced catching and releasing insects. It was so fun to see the kids explore the new space and ask questions about growing fruit trees. Seemingly having lots of experience playing outside and in garden spaces, they skipped around the orchard, tasting various plants, and squealing at small bugs. And when they got a little cold, they ran back over to Jiana for a big hug. Luckily, the group agreed to come back when it’s a bit warmer in the spring, where they were promised to be able to taste some fresh strawberries. We are so excited to see how our partnership with Get Fresh Daily unfolds over time.
This POP Blog was written by Orchard Assistant Erika D’Andrea.
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