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June 10, 2021
Giving Back: Discerning Eye Community Agriculture
What does the Lancaster local art scene and its urban farming community have in common? Two things: the first is the necessity for organization, advocacy, and education. The second is Hawa Lassanah.
Originating as a pivotal figure of Lancaster’s burgeoning creative community, Hawa built a local reputation in the early 2000s as a person that gets stuff done. “I created the Discerning Eye organization to address issues in the local art scene, like representation and gatekeeping,” says Hawa. “And it solidified my position here as somebody who can identify problems and create solutions.”
In the years following, Hawa would go on to seek opportunities to enrich her leadership and creativity. This included studying art gallery management while living in Spain, completing yoga teacher training with Create Karma in Manheim, and attending a leadership-mentor program with Landmark Worldwide.
Shortly thereafter, it was a conversation with her father that sparked Hawa’s idea to empower the collective through urban farming. That’s why she created the DECA organization—adding “Community Agriculture” to the end of “Discerning Eye”—to tackle issues like food insecurity and accessibility, especially for underserved urban neighborhoods with little cultivable green space.
Its food-product subdivision, called DECA provisions, offers hyper-local, zero-waste goods such as infused honeys and garlic salts. Profits from these ventures go back into revitalizing the community.
After a successful 2020 growing season, DECA’s Backyard Farming Cooperative relocated their gardens to a location in Lancaster County Park with the help of many generous donors and volunteers—plus farm managers Elliot “The Mad Gardner” Martin and Sarah Tagghart. With her message spreading and support growing, Hawa is thrilled to watch DECA blossom into a community undertaking.