Rad Kids was founded in 2015. The main goals of the project are to bring children and youth closer to the land and farmers, getting their hands in the soil to learn how to grow food. The ethics of the project lie with food sovereignty principles- our work is to keep control of food systems locally and to grow food in ways that respect other species and support ecosystems. Bringing children up to have these skills ensures a future with more people growing their own food and supporting farmers. To that end, Rad Kids offers summer day camp on a farm, workshops in community and school settings, and Marie Bencze, program director and founder, has recently completed a Master’s of Environmental Studies, researching interactions of children and youth with farm-based education.
Marie is an organic vegetable farmer and community organizer. She has worked at several farms in Kingston: she spent six years working at Patchwork Gardens in Battersea, three seasons at Root Radical CSA, a summer at Vegetables Unplugged, and a winter at the organic dairy Doublejay Farms.
Marie has also worked with and been involved in various food, environmental and social justice, and farm community organizations such as Loving Spoonful, the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT), the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG), and the National Farmers Union (NFU).
With farming experience on the one hand, education is Marie’s other skillset. In 2019, she completed her Master’s of Environmental Studies studying food and farm education. She also works in the Standardized Patient program offering sensitivity training to medical students. She spent a year at H’Art Studio, assisting adults with intellectual and physical challenges in daily activities. She was a nanny for two years, and a Girl Guide leader for three. She developed and wrote agricultural curriculum at a Rural Education Centre in Bolivia. She has been a tutor and an ESL teacher.
With her deep connections to the local food community, she has found that while the local food movement has grown dramatically in the last ten years, there is room for more programming for children. Taking on one small part, Marie & Rad Kids will encourage children to participate in building a food-sovereign future.