This Year’s Models: Who Revitalized Lexington 2009, Becca Self

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THIS YEAR’S MODELS 2009: Ace’s Annual Highlight of Lexington’s Model Citizens Making a Difference. The 2009 Class is Clark and Jessica Case, proprietors of Buster’s; Coach Calipari, the Model Believer; Diane Lawless, Model LFUCG freshman; Doug Martin, social media model councilperson; Mick Jeffries, Model Radio Host/Blogger/Renaissance Man; and Debra Hensley, Model Mobile Stimulus Package; and Model Grass Roots Urban Gardener, Becca Self.

Model Grass Rootser: Becca Self

Becca Self in Seedleaf Garden, 2009. Ace File Photo.

by Rona Roberts

Becca Self combines a lot of good things in a tiny, enthusiastic, positive, projustice, pro-Lexington package. She’s a 30-year old brilliant scientist (MIT architecture degree.) She’s a native Lexingtonian who says she never considered NOT settling in Lexington as an adult. She’s just finishing her first year as Seedleaf’s first education director, which means she invents fascinating and delightful ways to explain photosynthesis to preschoolers and thinks it is great fun to demonstrate safe tomato canning to their elders.

After MIT, Becca began teaching science, first at the high school level, then at the Montessori Middle School of Kentucky. She took the lead at MMSK in inventing an acclaimed land-based science curriculum for middle school students. With adult encouragement (and lots of complicated carpooling), students went to work on 12 acres of urban land the school had bought, but did not yet occupy. With this meaningful approach to science, young Lexingtonians at MMSK became ardent ambassadors for sustainability and local food production. They also become true experts in native species, beneficial insects, stream health, community gardening and produce sales, Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), multiple types of composting, yurt/shed construction, beekeeping, rain barrel management, and more. Engaging middle schoolers in real work on real land brought so much natural success that Becca became convinced her life work includes opening similar landbased learning opportunities to children and adults in the larger community. Now Becca teaches and inspires a multi-generational community of people all around the city in neighborhoods and schools where Seedleaf supports productive gardens and orchards. Becca Self is showing all of us in Lexington how to become healthier and more able to produce, cook, and preserve our own food.

And by the way, Becca had a crucial role in bringing Will Allen from Growing Power to town through the Lafayette Seminars at the Gaines Center for the Humanities at UK. She worked within the Aylesford Neighborhood Association to get one of the city’s recent sustainability grants, for fruit trees. She also won a scholarship as a young leader and went on the Chamber’s recent trip to Madison, WI, where she and husband Ben Self had lived briefly.

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