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Braiding Seeds Fellowship Application

Image by Markus Spiske
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Please tell us a little about yourself, past projects, and what you are doing now that relates to farming, land, or food justice. This can include cultural preservation and healing.

Please be specific about your role, community & organizational affiliations, and/or personal


Rooted Emergence founded in 2021, is a BIPOC-led, land-based, fiscally-sponsored project of Inquiring Systems Inc., a 501(c)3 organization based in California. The purpose of the Rooted Emergence Project is to holistically address socio-economic disparities and the growing effects of climate change. We will create food security, combat mental health, and psychosocial disorders. Our focus is black and brown youth ages 10-19 where we will foster fundamentals in agriculture, education, and wellness. This includes but not limited to:

  • farming and ecology

  • nutrition

  • building

  • movement

  • self-development 

  • community service 


One of our strategic partners, Tehuti Ma'at, is hosting the community garden component in Brooklyn, NY, while the immersive portion of our project will take place on an off-grid homestead of undeveloped land in Upstate New York. Upstate New York was selected as it is a prime location for our initiative, with areas like Hudson Valley making significant strides in regenerative agriculture and preparing youth for a sustainable future. [Source: Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming]. 


Other strategic partners… Seeds in the Middle, NYC Youth Wrap, the Thrive for Life Prison Project , and Plant Powered Metro NY have a similar mission to promote the healing of our youth and are aligned with us, forming a collective, to execute our project goals. 


The leadership team of the Rooted Emergence Project has extensive experience in health and wellness initiatives, proficiency in event and production coordination, system design, optimization of operational workflow and approximately two years farming experience. 


Core leadership roles:
Lature Van Duren, Co-Founder and Visionary; Sweetina Kakar, Co-Founder and Head of Marketing and Community Outreach; and Salman Jammal, Head of Operations and Programs.

Farm or Land Stewardship Project Description

Please share a thorough description of

your farm or land stewardship project, its mission, overarching goals, participant or community

focus, as well as the impact you hope it will have or have already noted it to have.

Rooted Emergence project’s work focuses on three primary areas: the intersection of community, ecology, and food justice to relieve dependency on unsustainable, existing systems.

















As stated above – our mission is to address socioeconomic disparities, the growing effects of climate change, food insecurity, and reverberating effects like mental and psychological disorders affecting at-risk, BIPOC youth. Unbelievably, 145,000 New Yorkers aged 12-17 have depression, while 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year [Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness]. RE’s core processes focus on internal value development and skill-building that helps these at-risk youth navigate nature and society more effectively – like a symbiotic process of building a bridge between them and the natural world. [Source: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health]


Phase I of the project will consist of multiple stages. 


  • Stage I: Build community and foster a spirit of cooperation amongst these at-risk youth experiencing great socioeconomic and health disparities. Tehuti Ma’at, our partner, currently operates a community garden in Brooklyn, NY that will serve as the hub for project outreach and recruitment of program participants. This relationship establishes the link to our immersive program, held in Upstate New York. Through emphasis on ecology and climate science – we will host and facilitate workshops and training programs with youth to develop an appreciation of biodiversity, nutrition and self-sustaining systems that foster well-being at this Brooklyn hub. This includes but not limited to:

    1. Basic Introduction to Permaculture Design & Principles

    2. Food Preservation and Production

    3. Farmer’s Market Business Ethics and Systems

    4. Nutrition and Farm-to-Table Cooking

    5. Group Movement and Guided Meditations

    6. Community Outreach & Services


  • Stage II: In alignment with the mission of NYC Youth Wrap and the Thrive for Life Prison Project we will recruit and pair 9 “justice-involved” youths and 9 adults to join our first mentorship program cohort.  


  • Stage III: We seek to purchase and acquire land for the immersive experience: participants will be recruited to join Rooted Emergence’s 2024 summer cohort of 12 youths, multiple 1–3-day immersive programs over the course of 8-weeks in Upstate NY. During these immersions, we will take the fundamentals of ecology and climate science much further by introducing participants to regenerative farming and expand on permaculture design education to heal food injustice in their communities. Additionally, our team will provide training for craftsmanship, woodworking, and other skilled trades to improve mental health, encourage creativity, and develop real-world skills.

  • Stage IV: Rooted Emergence will then prepare the land for planting and seeding to later provide produce to our partners Tehuti Ma’at and Seeds in the Middle at Tehuti Ma’at’s location where one of RE’s team members will facilitate operations for these two organizations and become a chief supplier for Seeds in the Middle’s work within inner-city schools. Rooted Emergence will also establish partnerships with local restaurants and grocers as a supplier from the farmland in upstate New York.


The Re Project is a self-reinforcing model that rehabilitates and heals our youth, creates cash flow, and increases the value of real estate and community – all while benefiting the planet and species around us.

Potential impacts of this model include:

  • Rehabilitation and healing of at-risk, BIPOC youth, leading to a positive impact on mental health and well-being.

  • Increased revenue streams for the local community through the sale of produce to local restaurants and grocers, which may also create employment opportunities.

  • Increase in the value of real estate in the community through the implementation of sustainable and regenerative agriculture practices, which may also attract new residents and businesses.

  • Positive impact on the environment through sustainable and regenerative agriculture practices, which may contribute to ecosystem health, reduce carbon footprint, and protect local species.

  • Creation of a model that can be replicated in other communities, leading to similar impacts and positive outcomes.

Overall, the self-reinforcing model has the potential to create a range of positive impacts that benefit the youth, the community, the environment, and the economy.

[See Diagram - Program Flow Below]

The RE Project's Partnership Flow Diagram.png

Reasons for Applying

Please explain the reason for your fellowship application. Why do you think you/your project are a good fit for this cohort? Be sure to provide details about how you see this fellowship supporting you.

We see a symbiotic relationship between the Rooted Emergence Project and the Braiding Seeds Fellowship due to the common need we’re addressing in our community. We believe we would be a great fit for this cohort because of our collective’s mission aligning with your goals – as we are passionate about the flourishing of Black agrarianism, and the positive impacts of farming and ecology on generations to come. We want to build a legacy –” liberating BIPOC youth from the impacts of capitalism and settler colonialism.” 

We look forward to working with the designated mentors in the Braiding Seeds Fellowship program to provide support and guidance in the following areas throughout our project:


  • Local farm service support and resources: guidance on irrigation, crop selection, harvest and post-harvest handling, equipment maintenance, and connecting the Rooted Emergence project with local farmers and resources.


  • Accounting and bookkeeping assistance: assist with accounting system setup, expense and revenue tracking, financial statement creation, tax returns preparation, financial management, budgeting, and grant reporting.


  • Transition from fiscal sponsorship to an independent 501(c)3: provide guidance on applying for tax-exempt status, creating bylaws and governance policies, registering with state and federal agencies, and offer advice on board development, and strategic planning.


  • Financing guidance: offer guidance on grant writing, fundraising, crowdfunding, social impact investing, financial projections, risk management, and financial viability assessment.


  • Hiring best practices: guidance on creating job descriptions, conducting interviews, performing background checks, setting up payroll and benefits, employee retention, training, and performance evaluation.


  • Advising on business plan development: assist with defining goals and objectives, conducting market research, developing a marketing and outreach plan, creating a budget and financial projections, program evaluation, impact measurement, and continuous improvement.

Project Timeline & Activities

When did your project begin?

  • The Rooted Emergence Project was birthed in 2021.

What major steps have been accomplished so far?

  • We have been scouting land to begin the procurement and development process for the immersive cohort program. We’ve acquired Fiscal Sponsorship and have established partnerships with the Tehuti Ma’at community garden in Brooklyn, Seeds in the Middle, NYC Youth Wrap, Plant Powered Metro NY and the Thrive for Live Prison Project. 

If selected for the 18-month fellowship, what are the primary activities you'll be focused on in the following periods?

  • first 6 months (July-Dec 2023) 

  • 6-12 months (Jan-June 2024) 

  • 12-18 months (July-Dec 2024)


18-Month PROJECT Goals: What major goals would you like to have accomplished by the end of the 18-month fellowship?

What planned steps will move you towards these goals?

Upon the completion of the fellowship, we will have accomplished the following:

  • Purchased and acquired land

  • Added additional team support in three of the following areas:

    • Facilitators & Guides

    • Hunting & Fishing

    • Foraging

    • Survival Skills

    • Cooking & Canning (Registered Nutritionist and Dietitian)

    • Gardening & Farming (Plants & animals)

    • Baking

    • Sewing, Knitting, Braiding, Textiling, Crocheting

    • Brewing and Fermentation

    • Mechanics & Engineering

    • Carpentry & Masonry

    • Medical Sciences

    • Teaching, Child care, Natal and Postnatal Care

    • Movement Professional (Yoga, meditation, trainers)  

  • Trained at least 30 youths in permaculture design, regenerative farming, and other skilled trades 

  • Led a successful cohort in our mentorship program at TM 

  • Prepared, launched, and ran our first summer immersion cohort 

  • Acquired official nonprofit 501(c)3 status

  • Raised additional funding of approximately 3x the fellowship amountPlanted a minimum of 90 food producing plants (harvest 75% of them) 

  • Built a minimum of 3 structures for permaculture infrastructure i.e. a greenhouse/nursery, a workshop/equipment storage shed, and a barn.

  • Helped create improved nutrition for program participants, students at the inner-city schools and Brooklyn community with our partnership with SITM

  • Created commerce by way of a farmer’s market stand and supplying local restaurants with produce and farming products as well as community educational workshops and programs

  • Educated at-risk youth on nutrition and wellness practices, i.e. healing through meditation, yoga, and movement (hiking, etc.) 

18-Month PERSONAL Goals: What major personal goals would you like to accomplish over the 18-month fellowship?

What planned steps will move you towards these goals?

The Rooted Emergence’s leadership team has a collective personal goal: “to create a sustainable future where people of all cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds can flourish, learn and connect with like-minded individuals, and accelerate change in our society.” Additionally, as stated previously – we deem it necessary to liberate BIPOC youth from systems built upon the impacts of colonialism and capitalism.


Personal Goals



  • Cultivate a talking circle amongst the youth that helps create a space of safety, vulnerability, and a place for true expression.

  • Encourage youth participants to cultivate greater awareness and agency over their health by implementing the practices introduced in our programs.

  • Acquire National Board Certified - Health and Wellness Coach License



  • Introduce and facilitate a combination of DBT and art therapy as a means of expression, creativity, and healing. 

  • Create partnerships and relationships with public and private school sectors.

  • Attain Reiki levels 2 and 3 to be qualified to both practice and teach Reiki to the youth.



  • Teach and coach youth Futbol (soccer) to highlight discipline, teamwork, and athleticism.

  • Form new partnerships for RE that can aid in obtaining additional resources and enhance our workflow systems.

  • Participate in and learn some of the skilled trades offered through our programs.

Supports Needed: How can the fellowship best support you in accomplishing your project and personal goals?

Throughout our project, we anticipate collaborating with the appointed mentors in the Braiding Seeds Fellowship program to offer us support and guidance in various areas, which include local farm service support and resources, accounting and bookkeeping aid, financing/funding guidance, advising on business plan development, best practices for hiring, as well as the transition from fiscal sponsorship to an independent 501(c)3. We’re excited to work with the Braiding Seeds fellowship mentors and believe that their expertise will be invaluable to our organization's growth and success.

Please describe how you would plan to use the stipend funding

Describe whether you

would plan to use the stipend for living expenses, business expenses, purchases, and/or more.

A detailed budget is *not* required.

With the initial $50,000 from the Braiding Seeds Fellowship, we intend to use it for the following purposes:

  • Land acquisition = $15K

  • Permaculture Design Consultation for both the RE farmland and Tehuti Ma’at Community Garden = $6K

    • We will host several permaculture workshops with the permaculture designer providing program opportunities for permaculture design and craftsmanship/building right away. 

    • With hiring the designer, this provides us with the opportunity to also host a paid workshop for neighborhood locals. 

  • Equipment and program supplies at the RE farmland = $14K

  • Equipment and program supplies at the Tehuti Ma’at Community Garden = $5K

  • Payroll = $10K

We are open and actively working towards using the granted $50,000 to secure further funding. 

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