Summer at the Youth Grow Local Farm

We really had a great summer at the Youth Grow Local Farm - I think our best yet! This year is our third season out at the farm and it really strikes me how much the farm itself and the educational program have evolved over the last three seasons. This year, we had a fantastic crew of 25-30 people of all ages working on the farm three days a week.  Our farm team included: a group of middle school students in a leadership camp at Goodman Community Center, high school students in the TEENworks program at Goodman, Americorps members from Goodman and Farm to School, a youth from the Commonwealth Development youth employment program, a high school student from the neighborhood around the farm, two college students who had been a part of our old Farm and Field program when they were in high school, and lots of other assorted youth and adults.

 

We divided into teams for the summer and each team gave themselves a name: Beet-niks, Strawbamas (strawberry and Obama combined!), Weed-whackers, and Wallastrawberries. Many mornings we’d work together on a large task for awhile and then split into smaller groups to tackle other tasks.   We created some new things at the farm this year that we think worked really well. 

Teams and Task Lists

Each Monday morning before most of the farm team arrived I walked around with a small group of interns and youth on a farm tour. We got this idea from the Troy Community Farm and decided to try it out at a smaller level. We talked about all of the things that needed to get done that week and one person took notes. We would then transfer the list to the large white board where it would be divided into priorities. From there, the teams would each pick the tasks they wanted to work on each day and cross them off as they went. This was a great way to get more information out of my head and into the hands of the masses! It also allowed the youth to have more control over and input into what tasks their teams worked oneach day. This is definitely a keeper!

 
 
 

Veggie of the Day

This year we wanted to incorporate some more formal learning into the farm experience. Several times each week we would all gather around a particular crop to give it our full attention. We would examine the plant, learn about its origin, talk about fun facts and hopefully taste a snack that featured that vegetable. The adults took turns presenting the lessons and next year we’d like to involve the kids in researching and presenting.

Games and Activities

All of the youth work very hard on the farm during the summer planting, weeding, watering, harvesting and much more. We wanted to incorporate a little more non-farm activities this summer and succeeded in doing so. Our favorites were a bi-monthly drum circle courtesy of an employee at Goodman, painting large veggie cut-outs organized by one of the interns, hula hooping and a blindfolded veggie tasting contest. 

 
 
           Learning about cucumbers                                       Veggie Tasting Contest
 
One of the most common questions when people tour the farm is how much of the farm work the youth are involved in. I always stress that they do everything! Rarely are we adults out on the farm without kids. They are the ones who are prepping the beds, planting the seeds and plants, putting up trellises for the crops, harvesting, washing and packing. It truly is a youth farm and they work hard! 

The next chapter of the farm is the upcoming fall season. We will be visited by 200 students a week from Kennedy Elementary school (as well as youth from Goodman Community Center). During each visit they will participate in various stations around the farm that will introduce them to growing food. They will help us harvest hundreds of pounds of potatoes and onions, spread compost, mulch beds and paths, rip out old plants, plant 1500 garlic, and taste lots of fresh vegetables! Even though it seems like we are gearing up for the end of the season there is still a lot of work to do!

 
Preparing to eat the end of season meal under the trees
 
End of season meal - all dishes selected and prepared by the youth

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