A new local organization Rap for Food will host its first event “The Food Mix” on Thursday, March 29 beginning at 7pm at the Yellow Barn, 416 W. Huron in Ann Arbor. The Food Mix will unite local food artisans and groups, music lovers, and gardening organizations to learn more about and generate support for the local food system.
The event kicks off at 7pm with a mixer including representatives from Project Grow, the Slow Food Huron Valley Great Lakes Heirloom Seed Trial, Gardens 350, the Folktory, Sunseed Farm CSA, and others. Attendees will have the chance to enter raffles, sample free food and get to know more about volunteer opportunities in the area. Sponsors for the evening include the Grange, Nifty Hoops, The Brinery, and Pilar’s Tamales.
The concert will be hosted by Lucas DiGia, aka ‘Homegrown’, and he’ll open the music portion of the evening. Performers of longer sets for this evening include K Serra, Dastardly (solo), and Ken Kozora. Audience members can expect to hear music that incorporates elements of rap and hiphop along with vocal percussion, middle eastern drums, folk, indie rock, or synthesizers– in other words, an evening of innovation and exploration of sound.
On the weekend, I spoke with organizer Lucas Digia to learn more about his motivation in launching the Rap for Food event and what he hopes to do in the future.
I caught up with Lucas while he was in Ocala, Florida, planting a garden for his 97 year old great-grandmother, who recently received a birthday greeting from President Obama. The vacation was a discovery for Lucas, who learned about southern gardening, differing soil conditions, and family connections to gardening. His great-grandmother informed him that his deceased great-grandfather was the real gardener of the family; she said that watching him in the garden reminded her of seeing his great-grandfather working there.
Lucas’ interest in gardening came about after college when he started cooking for himself. He discovered the magic of fresh herbs and began to grow some of his own on his apartment deck. That interest led him to wonder what he might be able to grow if he had some space, and an internet search connected him to Project Grow. His involvement with the organization has changed his perspective of where his food comes from.
For Lucas, that “first step into the garden” has become a pivotal metaphor, both as a spoken word artist and a community member. Now actively involved in Project Grow and serving as the Vice President of the board, Lucas refers to gardening as a “gateway” that leads to other relationships. Gardening deepened his connections to the older generations of his family and made him interested in buying more local food and in protecting the environment. Lucas explains, “This whole world opens up when you try to become part of that local food scene. There’s more to it than just growing your own food.” Volunteering has become an integral part of Lucas’ life; he encourages people to get involved in working with organizations like Project Grow to find a sense of fulfillment that might otherwise be missing in their lives.
One of Lucas’ goals for this event is to mix people from different groups: those who are creative or interested in independent music and those who grow their own food or support that cause. For the most part, these are separate groups, but the places where they overlap can encourage a strong sense of community. He hopes Rap for Food will attract more people to this lifestyle– one that has a higher awareness of where food comes from, how it’s made, and how important it is that we protect the environment.
I mentioned that the event sounded like an intersection of his various interests in gardening, art, and community. For Lucas’, it’s also about throwing the kind of party that he wants to be at– one with creative and artistic people who grow their own food.
The enthusiasm with which Lucas speaks of Rap for Food is the same energy he brought to working with the kids’ camp at Edible Avalon or rousing volunteers to work on Project Grow’s Potato Pledge. It’s palpable and contagious. It’s the kind of energy that gives me hope for the future of gardening and of our community– and on Thursday night– for a celebratory time full of music and food.