In 2017, a young woman named Lexi Beshara met me at Central Park in New York City. We had never met before, but we were about to spend the next three months together, along with about 30 other people who had never met. We were all coming together for a common purpose – to cycle across the United States while doing good deeds in the communities we passed through. We were the Green Riders.
Over the next 82 days, we rode over 3,000 miles together and Lexi and I forged a friendship. Later that year I moved to Orlando, Florida where I was about to embark on my next adventure – to grow and forage 100% of my food for a year. That’s when I heard from Michelle and Todd Willen of the Live Like Ally Foundation. Through their foundation, they had sponsored Lexi to join Green Riders and they had followed our work across the country. Lexi was best friends with Ally Willen, to whom the Live Like Ally Foundation was dedicated. Ally passed away at the age of 21 while hiking in New Zealand. The Willens felt in alignment with the service that we were doing and they reached out to see if I could use support in expanding these programs.
This year, we are celebrating five years of service to the community together. Over the last five years we have:
Provided free seed packs to 40,000 people, schools and organizations. With these seeds, we’ve shared the potential to grow and eat millions of dollars’ worth of homegrown, healthful food.
Planted over 2,000 Community Fruit Trees in communities across the United States.
Built about 30 Gardens for the People, with the people!
Created and installed ~15 Free Seed Libraries and established a template program for others to start their own.
Launched two Community Compost Programs and established a template program for others to start their own. These programs rescued thousands of pounds of food from going to landfills.
Created educational guides and videos to help people grow their own food and plant fruit trees.
Supported teams of interns in St. Petersburg, Florida and Asheville, North Carolina planting and growing in the community. These interns deepened their skills of growing food and sustainable living as they worked in the community.
Volunteered hundreds of hours with the communities we served including working side by side with the St. Pete Youth Farm for three months to help build up the farm.
Produced many videos supporting grassroots activists, nonprofits and initiatives, especially for Black and Indigenous women.
Directed thousands of dollars of funding into grassroots nonprofits.
As I reflect on our five years of service together, I feel such a great level of gratitude and joy. Growing food has been so liberating and connective for me and I’m so grateful to have been able to share this passion with so many thousands of others. I am elated to have been able to provide both the physical resources as well as the knowledge and support to help people grow their connection to Earth.
Through our community programs, our approach has been to help people to reconnect with Earth, with their communities and with themselves. We’ve heard from many people who have fostered these connections and we know that many of these connections will last a lifetime.
We share a deep gratitude to everyone who has taken part in our programs. We share gratitude for each of the teammates, interns and volunteers for dedicating their time and energy to these initiatives. We share a special thanks to our colleagues at Orlando Permaculture, INSPIRE of Central Florida, Fleet Farming, Bounty and Soul and Central Florida Fruit Society. It has been such a joy to be of service together.
We share a special thank you to our teammates, interns, volunteers and supporters especially: Alexis Beshara, Tyler Zender, Cheryl Davies, Jameson Johnson, Shikha Johnson, Nala Weiss, Ayla Fulton, Melenn Herve, Carly Rundle-Borchert, Emer Olivarez, Miranda Crawley, Tracy Weiss, George Bronos, Max Anderson, Kelli Harper, Luke Yourzak, Bri Bateman, Will Hassel, Ash Graddy, Clotilde Nader, Julie Verner, Brent Saeli, Jazmyne Benjamin, Tommy Quintero, Daniel Troia, Ethan Harris, Sebastiano Pestoni, Belle Brown, Elise Pickett, Sue Mannon, Jolie Annichiarico, Amal Jennings, Danielle Hanusek, Sierra Ford Jones, Caitlin Fogarty, Jeff Trapani, David Warfel, Yuan Chang, Greg Noonan, Sarah Robinson, Lisa Ray, Jen Tucker, John VonMutius, Chris Castro, Carla Bristol, Miriam, Ava Deveaux, Rachel Frannie Perrino and Cary Catts, Victoria and Patrick, Lauren Muscatine, Albert Risemberg, Laura Oldanie, A Natural Farm and more.
After five years of service together, we are pausing these programs. I have chosen to pause the programs so that I can focus more on my activism. You can read more on this decision here. Although we are pausing these programs for now I intend for these programs to still be a foundational part of my service to Earth and humanity.
We are elated to see the gardens growing, the fruit trees putting out fruit and the seeds continually producing food through seed saving for the years ahead.
Here is to the decades ahead of service to Earth and humanity.
About Live Like Ally Foundation:
“Since 2015 we’ve honored Ally’s memory by sponsoring people and organizations aligned with her beautiful world vision. We hope to inspire others to live a life of intention and meaning, to think higher, to feel deeper, to love Earth…to continue on the path that Ally was clearly walking.”