de Leña headshot

Emerson Fellow

Ariana de Leña

18th Class, 2011-2012

Field Placement: Growing Power (Chicago, IL)

While supporting daily farm operations, Ariana performed a needs assessment with school garden educators, community members, and urban agriculture practitioners in Chicago to help boost the long-term sustainability, food production and education value of Chicago’s school gardens. She developed a guide to school gardening in Illinois based on Growing Power’s agricultural practices and state education standards and piloted a complementary educators workshop to help them plan, implement and troubleshoot school gardens.

Hunger Free Community Report:

Room to Grow: A Guide to School Gardening in Illinois is a comprehensive guide for teachers that includes tools and information for planning, developing, and maintaining school gardens. It also includes garden-based curriculum that are linked to Illinois state education standards.

Policy Placement: National Family Farm Coalition (Washington, DC)

Ariana conducted research on the involvement of institutional investors, private equity groups, banks, and pension funds in the purchasing of farmland in the U.S. and abroad to document domestic “land grabs.” She reported on the impacts of non-farmer investment and excessive commodity speculation through educational materials to share with partners at the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, the Right-to-Land Coalition and other transnational working groups. Additionally, Ariana monitored the 2012 Farm Bill and Agricultural Appropriations processes and reported their progress to member groups.

Pre-Fellowship Education/Experience:

A Seattle native, Ariana studied environmental justice and development at Occidental College and UC Berkeley. She has conducted research on Latino participation in community gardens, interned with the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative, volunteered as a youth mentor , and worked in Honduras as a Youth Outreach Worker on youth empowerment through environmental, sexual and community health initiatives. Ariana also worked at a youth gardening program and interned with the Pacific Institute’s Community Strategies for Sustainability and Justice program.