Hello folks concerned with Food Justice and the empowerment of our Youth…..
Four years ago, when I had the chance to help start the Youth Farm Project, I could see that it had real potential, but honestly had no idea just how powerfully it would impact either the young people who have become involved, or the community of which they are part.
The program brings together a purposefully diverse group of high school aged youth from schools across Tompkins County. As they are taught to run an 8 acre organic vegetable farm, they learn about themselves and each other, crossing neighborhood, socioeconomic, and racial boundaries. While the program teaches sustainable growing methods, one day each week is spent off farm, helping crew members understand the broad array of food justice issues in immediate need of change locally…..
What I have discovered is that this combination of hard work and opportunities to actively address injustice, changes kid’s lives….. Clear, given the comprehensive feedback each crew member writes at the end of the summer program. An example from one of last year’s crew members: “By working and eating with people from different backgrounds, who have previously experienced food differently that I have, the power of healthy, hard-earned food in unifying people becomes astonishingly evident. At markets, in the BJM fresh fruit and vegetables program, the principles and ideals of food justice are beautifully apparent.”
I am supporting this particular Peaks initiative, as a next step for the Youth Farm, because it will allow the experience of local youth to become even more tuned to local issues concerning food justice. The purchase of key farm implements will not reduce the work that local youth put into the Farm, but will open up new possibilities concerning their involvement in the equitable distribution of this food…. and the ongoing sustainability of the program itself. Check out the Youth Farm at: http://www.youthfarmproject.org/.