From Gangster To Gardener: Rapper Teaches Youth How To Grow Food

…go home and want to change the way they eat, but their parents can’t afford it or don’t understand why it’s important because of the culture they grew up in. Cocaine doesn’t grow in our community but kale does, and that’s what we really need to be selling to each other.”

An oasis in a food desert in Northeast Denver, CO, his project focuses on healthy, organic food. Each plant in the garden is purposeful, putting into themes that are specific to the health disparities found in this community being one of low-income and people of color.

Cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and respiratory challenges are rampant in the Northeast Denver neighborhood. This project was designed to focus on collaboration, utilizing the resources of existing organizations, businesses and individuals.

In the film, Vita shares “Tribalism is ingrained in us. We’re supposed to rep our hoods, our community. But when it becomes violent, when it becomes destructive, that’s why I realized that enough of this has happened.”

DENVER, CO - JULY 3: Ietef Vita, aka, DJ Cavem Moetavation, right, gets rid of weeds as his wife Neambe Leadon Vita, in back at right, and her daughter Selasia, 3, in blue and Libya, 21 months, in green on left, plant seeds in the couple's gardens at 33rd and Elm street in Denver, CO. on July 3, 2013. The couple try to grow as much food as possible as part of their vegan and healthy diet. As part of our "Summer of Love" series for the Style section we profile the relationship of DJ Cavem Moetavation (a.k.a. Ietef Vita) and his wife Neambe Vita. They are proud and longtime Five Points residents. They're artists, community activists, musicians, teachers and more. They espouse the idea of being vegan or vegetarian and promote eating healthfully and organically. Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

Instead of filling young minds with thoughts of violence, sex, drugs and materialism, Vita is planting the seeds of self-sustaining health right in our own back yards. Now, that’s gangster!

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