At one point during Tuesday’s panel on “Growing Food, Growing Healthy Communities,” Steve Ritz told the audience, “No one in this room will go broke giving love.”
Now, you could argue Steve, founder of The Green Bronx Machine, is not a financial advisor. Well, there was a time not long ago when you wouldn’t have called him a farmer, and yet he has grown over 50,000 pounds of vegetables in the Bronx and sends 100 bags of produce home weekly. And a few months ago you mightn’t have named him an author, and yet, The Power of a Plant has already become a #1 Amazon Bestseller, less than two months after its release. Long story short, we might as well trust Steve when he tells us we won’t go broke giving love.
If anything, Tuesday’s panel at the ethereal Deepak HomeBase was a great test run: the mutual respect in the room was palpable. To Steve’s right sat Robert Graham, MD, MPH, co-Founder of FRESH Med; Tony Hillery, Founder and Executive Director of Harlem Grown; and moderator Lori Silverbush, the filmmaker behind A Place at The Table. It feels safe to say that there has never before been a more loving and supportive panel; Tony, Rob and Steve could hardly stop praising each other to talk about their own work! Of course, this only heightened the already skyrocketing admiration of pretty much everyone in attendance.
Throughout the night, a recurring theme emerged from the conversation around growing food and healthy communities: children. Of course, Tony and Steve work with kids every single day. Dr. Rob realizes the importance of children in this conversation in a different capacity; in his patients, he sees what childhood malnutrition becomes in its adult form, and that’s dis-ease.