Name Jonathan Silverman
City or Hometown Born in Princeton, New Jersey - Raised in San Francisco Bay Area
If you’re from SF, what’s your library branch? Noe Valley Branch
What is your program or position in your organization? Founder and Managing Director at Feel the Earth 501(c)(3)
What is your organization’s website? http://www.feeltheearth.org
I established Feel the Earth as a 501(c)(3) non profit organization actively supporting local and national initiatives for healthy and sustainable food.
Its mission is to educate communities to grow locally, healthy sustainable food through urban agriculture.
What is your favorite book, music or movie?
Stevie Wonder's - The Secret life of Plants. The Secret Life of Plants was written by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. A movie was adapted from the book which offers a fascinating account of the physical, emotional, and spiritual relations between plants and man.
What one thing do you do every day to help the earth
I am at José Ortega Elementary School developing Education Outside (SF Green Schools) vision with parents, principal, teachers, and students. I am reinforcing California Earth and Life science standards for over 300 students from grades Pre K-5. I am designing and delivering gardening lesson curriculum and activities for clear learning based objectives. I am building GREEN PAWS Eco-literacy program for entire school while inspiring and energizing students in growing a sense of community.
What one thing would you encourage others to do to help the planet?
I find it very important for students to learn about gardening and growing plants to understand our connection to the earth. If we understand life cycles, growing plants and plant production, it will provide health and lots of nourishment in our lives. If we take our time and grow plants, we will get rewarded. You can take what you know about plants anywhere you go. Nature brings us gifts that are very rewarding if we take our time and see how beautiful the world, then it makes sense to help the planet.
Was there a key moment when you knew you had to become involved in environmental activities?
Yes, a key moment that transformed and inspired me is when I moved to Costa Rica for about a year. I became a nature guide in the jungle at Rara Avis a biological preserve. I began to embrace a deep appreciation and understanding of nature. My role was to provide knowledge which included plants, animals, and ecological systems of the rain forest. This had a strong impact on my life in regards to environmental activities. When I returned back to San Francisco Bay Area I wanted to continue this connection. I then realized from this experience I wanted to inspire, inform, and be involved with plants. I chose food production as I felt it is important for children and communities to re-connect with their food system in an urban environment. That's when I decided to create Feel the Earth and offer programs and community events for children and their families.
What’s your secret?
My secret is to always be passionate, creative, and enthusiastic. I am always thinking and challenging ideas. I like to make ideas happen. I find it fun and exciting to bring a vision to reality. The idea I had for a strawberry bowl. Imagine a 360 degrees harvesting experience in an urban area for your schoolyard, backyard, and/or community garden. The solution is to create a Strawberry Bowl = Interactive and Playful Vertical Design. When I mentioned this idea people would say "That's not going to work, what?" Well I then demonstrated what to do is to find 100 Square Feet, then dig away 6-8 feet depression in the Earth, then add 300+ Strawberry Plants. The Strawberry Bowl will help you in reducing the amount of irrigation and surface area being used. Also, this strawberry bowl design will increase your harvest yield in a minimal amount of space. It was a success and the children harvested. We made strawberry smoothies.