“I am more than what you see” ~Ietef Vita
Filmmaker JLove Calderon recently released an exciting new documentary entitled ‘From Gangs To Gardens’ which chronicles Ietef Vita’s progression from gang member to organic urban gardener, heading up the Eastside Growers Collective.
Vita is a hip hop yogi, educator, midwife, emcee, deejay, youth advocate, and seeker of self sustainable life. He started the garden project to heal his neighborhood. “In order for us to see environmental improvement we must begin with the health of ourselves and individuals.”
An oasis in a food desert in Northeast Denver, CO, this 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.
Vita uses music and the hip hop culture when he speaks, with the goal of motivating young people to participate in the food activist movement, while educating them on the importance of healthy eating, and growing your own food to ensure food security.
In the film, Vita (invited, along with wife Alkemia [pictured below], to the White House to rep for Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign) quips: “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.”