Ietef Vita, a.k.a. DJ Cavem Moetavation, is a 30-year-old hip-hop artist, deejay, educator, organic gardener, and vegan chef. He grew up in Denver, Colorado’s Five Points neighborhood and was a member of the Eastside Gangstas 29th set before he discovered organic gardening. Vita calls himself an OG. No, not an original gangster—an organic gardener. As unlikely as it sounds, gardening saved him from a life he says was going nowhere. Now he’s spreading the word through hip-hop, and a lot of influential people are listening.
Former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama invited Vita to participate in the 2015 White House Easter Egg Roll. He was also featured in Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine, as well as Fortune, and he gave a 2015 TEDx Manhattan talk about “Eco HipHop.”
This former gangster has something to say and what he chooses to talk about is how generations of people living in urban communities are passing down illnesses like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and high blood pressure. Vita lost his grandmother to Type 2 diabetes. He feels junk food marketing and a lack of healthy food in his community is partially to blame.
Vita counters images of “Thug Life” with “Kale Life,” and his nonprofit summer camp, “Going Green, Living Bling,” teaches kids how to grow organic food and live a healthier life. His “Cool to Live” video (below) promotes growing green over joining gangs and doing drugs.
We had a conversation with him at The National Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa, California. Listen below to hear what he had to say:
Cocaine doesn’t grow in my community, but Kale does, – Letef “Dj Cavem” Vita
DJ Cavem’s — “Damn Near Raw” Facebook Page
NBC — “This Vegan Rapper is the O.G. of EcoHipHop (That’s Original Gardener)”
The Good Men Project — “Meet DJ Cavem: Denver’s Hip-Hop Gardener”
Rodale’s Organic Life — “This Rapper Promotes Organic Gardening and Healthy Eating Through Hip Hop
Westworld — “DJ Cavem Goes Green at Redline. . . and the White House”
The Denver Post — “Amid spike in Denver gang violence, “From Gangs to Gardens” doc looks at home grown solutions”
Feature Image Nico_Blue – iStock