John Niscavits is October's Volunteer of the Month

Volunteer Coordinator
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John N.jpgCongratulations to John Niscavits, our October volunteer of the month. Hope Farms has benefited greatly from John's dedication to farm work assisting with production and post-hurricane restoration. With a personal interest in organic gardening and achieving partial self sustainment by supplementing with home grown produce, John sought out a hands-on experience in urban agriculture. "Recipe For Success' investment into Hope Farms has given me opportunities to enrich my understanding of growing food organically, as well as how to grow more efficiently," he says, adding that he and a fellow friend and neighbor would like to introduce these methods into their Hobby District community. John laughs about his ambitions and comments that his growing enthusiasm for urban farming evokes the desire to till up his front yard and plant rows of corn, joking, "Maybe one day we can write that into our deed restrictions."

When casting aside visions of corn rows, John works as a full-time nurse in neurotrauma intensive care and serves at Neartown Church, playing music and leading Bible studies. He also plays and records music with a close friend and Houston area producer and often collaborates with his wife, a songwriter as well. His family enjoys being outdoors, hiking, camping, and fishing in their free time.

John continues to volunteer at Hope Farms because of the relationships he's built with the Recipe for Success staff, apprentices, and fellow volunteers. Through meaningful conversations and gratifying work, John always learns something new, "whether it's about farming, gardening, or life in general." One of his favorite memories while volunteering was created when he and an intern built the greenhouse doors. It wasn't the construction of the doors that excited John, but the knowledge that he was contributing to a structure that would house all of the farm's seedlings and understanding these seedlings would eventually turn into an abundant harvest.

Chief Agricultural Officer, Justin Myers, along with the rest of the Recipe for Success team, is grateful for John's contribution to the farm through the scorching summer months to our first fall planting. Justin adds, "John's kind nature, authenticity, and positive energy has been a welcome and valuable presence to the farm's growth and success." Thank you, John, for your support of Hope Farms!

Lunchbox Side

Justin Kouri
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Pool Side Dip_4x5.jpg

Pool Side Veggie Dip

Recipe & Photo by Justin Kouri

Yield: 2 cups


2 cups summer greens (spinach, tetragonia and/or amaranth)

2 lemons, juiced

1 clove garlic

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

8 ounces cream cheese, softened


  1. Combine greens, lemon juice, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes in a food processor.

  2. Pulse until greens are finely chopped, about 30 seconds. Be sure to periodically scrape down the sides.

  3. Add cream cheese to the processor with the greens and continue to pulse for another minute.

  4. Transfer to a bowl and serve with crudity, pita bread or tortilla chips. Enjoy!

*Note: Can be made ahead and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Order Your Farm Share

Recipe for Success
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Farm Shares 2017-18.jpgWe are excited to now offer farm share deliveries inside the loop for a nominal weekly charge. And to announce our new Farm-to-Office promotion which means free delivery to any location for 6 or more subscribers. So, get your colleagues or neighbors together and order up!

Eggplant Street Tacos

Justin Kouri
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Eggplant Taco_4x5.jpgWe love to honor our Mexican roots and culture with tacos made of every imaginable ingredient.

Have you tried using eggplant? This kid-friendly recipe cooks in the oven giving you time to prep the other fixings. It's part off our Eat the Rainbow curriculum from Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ culinary classroom lesson plans. If a 4th grader can do it, we are confident that you can too!

Get the recipe from our or HERE.

EatThis! Summer Camp 2017

Volunteer Coordinator
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IMG_3151.JPGThere's no place like RecipeHouse in the summer. Our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ programs don't end on the last day of school, they just turn the page to a new chapter: summer camps! In our themed camps, kids learn how to easily prepare and enjoy healthy foods, and during visits to Hope Farms they see how their favorite new foods are grown and harvested.

In June, our Eat This! camp, inspired by Marco Polo's journey on the Silk Road, explored the culinary cultures of Greece, Italy, India, and China. Campers earned stamps in their passports for making a delicious dish that celebrated each country With fresh produce from Hope Farms, children cooked up Greek salad, Italian homemade pasta with tomatoes and kale, and Chinese stir fry. Times between meals were used to learn about Marco Polo's journey and the different countries and cultures which he visited. With the help of these stories, the kids learned that these unknown food and cultures were not 'weird' but rather 'different' versions of many things they already loved.

Danielle, a camp helper, says "I'm always surprised at how much the kids love the curry we make. It just goes to show how kids can like all different types of foods if they just try them".

Another camp counselor noticed that kids who at the beginning did not care for tomatoes, were eating the Hope Farms cherry tomatoes like candy!

"The favorite day for our Marco Polo campers was definitely the last day in China", says Danielle. Each kid created their own version of stir fry and all of the campers sat in a circle- traditional Chinese family style. This last meal marks the end of camp and represents the family that the campers have created during the week!

At Recipe for Success we make it our mission to change the way children see and appreciate healthy foods, and camps at the RecipeHouse are no different. For more details about upcoming programs, contact

Hope Farms Gets Thumbs Up

Volunteer Coordinator
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Hope Farms came alive in May with students from Rodriguez Elementary School on a field trip and picnic visit

Bruce Simon is Volunteer of the Month

Volunteer Coordinator
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Bruce Edit.jpgWhile on summer break from his three year stretch as a substitute teacher, Bruce was in search of a volunteer opportunity in which he could positively impact children's lives. He learned of Recipe for Success Foundation through Volunteer Houston and jumped in feet first, engaging in summer camp, hope farms work days, and office work dedicating over 150 hours this summer alone. In the office, Bruce singlehandedly organized a mailing list for an upcoming event and helped convert hundreds of documents into electronic files. Chief Agricultural Officer, Justin Myers, commented on Bruce's "dedicated and positive presence on the farm throughout the heat of the summer. His calm nature and hard work have allowed the farm to navigate through epic weeding and make a successful transition into preparations for the fall planting season."

No matter the task, Bruce feels that his work serves a purpose. Though he may not always directly interact with children, he understands that the work performed ultimately helps them. Introduced to gardening during childhood through time spent at his grandmother's Houston home, Bruce had access to fresh okra, tomatoes, and corn. It wasn't until he joined the army that he learned the retail cost of these vegetables and understood one of the benefits of growing one's own produce. Since then, Bruce has hoped to have a garden of his own one day. His time spent volunteering during summer camp this year helped develop a new appreciation for a variety of veggies. "Paola has turned me into a kale freak," he adds, commenting that he now substitutes kale where he once ate lettuce. Outside of volunteering and when not acting as a hero in the classroom as a sub, Bruce enjoys nature and particularly likes to take road trips with his two sons.

Chronicle Reports on Hope

Recipe for Success
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Chron image of Justin.jpgNonprofit Recipe for Success brings produce, jobs to Sunnyside as reported by John D. Harden / Houston Chronicle, August 7, 2017

By mid-morning, Justin Myers' hands were covered with dirt, his stubble dripped with sweat and his clothes smelled like the dark soil he was using to plant the upcoming season's crops.

He and six other volunteers arrived in Sunny-side at 6 a.m. Wednesday to tend to the okra, cabbage and peppers planted through winter and spring and to prepare for the farm's first autumn production. <<Read the entire article.>>

Hope Farms Blooms

Recipe for Success
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CityBook Justin at Hope Farms.jpgHouston CityBook features Hope Farms in August 2017.

Hope Blooms in Sunnyside

An urban-farm project a decade in the making is on the grow in south Houston. And, if its founder has her way, bringing fresh produce to one of the city's worst food deserts -- and to H-Town's top chefs -- is just the beginning.

On the corner of Scott Street and Airport Boulevard in the historic Sunnyside neighborhood in southern Houston, a garden blooms. Behind a chain-link fence, in a field formerly occupied by the now-torn-down Carnegie Vanguard School, lie row after cheery row of cherry tomatoes, eggplant, bell pepper and okra. On a bright day in July, the two currently cultivated acres of the seven-acre plot are being carefully tended to by a handful of workers -- all U.S. veterans -- who are just as eager to see the fruits of their labor at Hope Farms as Gracie Cavnar, of the nationally lauded and Michelle Obama-endorsed Recipe for Success. Cavnar is the founder of and visionary behind the urban vegetable oasis, which is bringing fresh and healthy produce to one of the city's largest food deserts. Read more.

The Students of Monarch School and Institute are our July Volunteer Stars!

Volunteer Coordinator
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In late 2016, Montia Murray, Professional Educator at The Monarch School and Institute, contacted Recipe for Success Foundation, hoping to form a partnership in the hopes of establishing an opportunity to introduce the school's adult learners to the practice of serving others. Our office welcomed the new year and smiling faces of a select group of Monarch students who visited RecipeHouse to serve as office angels. These energetic individuals assisted with event mailings, press kit assembly, and inventory updates. It was always a treat to welcome their enthusiasm into an otherwise quiet and standard office day; their efforts helped improve office efficiency and decreased turnaround time for a mass event mailing.

Students at the Monarch School and Institute are diagnosed with neurological differences, primarily Autism. The program works on a Four Core Goal model that includes Self-awareness/Self-Regulation, Relationship Development, Executive Functioning, and Professional Competence. Montia felt the Office Angel opportunity matched with the program's four core goals and the students were "able to practice all of their goals while making a meaningful contribution to the community."

Thank you to the students of Monarch School and Institute for dedicating your time to help us combat childhood obesity. We hope to see you in the fall!

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