Final Report for CS08-065

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2008: $9,700.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: Southern
State: South Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Sara Reynolds
Marshview Comunity Organic Farm
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Project Information

Abstract:

The project provided adult leadership and training to youth residing in a low income area on St. Helena Island. The areas focused on were:

a. Work ethic/self management (such as punctuality, reliability, and honesty)

b. Personal qualities/team cohesiveness (including taking initiative, helping the group succeed, dealing effectively with conflict, valuing diversity, and being courteous to customers)

c. Food production/marketing (growing and harvesting produce, cooking, nutrition, making and following a plan, tracking sales, and setting up displays).

Several farm workers facilitated the work schedules along with planting, irrigation needs and assisted with directing volunteers. We supplied organic produce to the community through a 30 member CSA. Involvement of adults from the community including 35 members of the Leroy Brown Senior citizen Center who would not normally have any interaction with the Farm and the youth who are being trained as part of the Marshview Community Organic Farm effort.
Provided an economically viable alternative for landowners to use their furrow land to grow seasonal crops.

Sara` Reynolds partnered with Coastal Community Corporation Development (CDC) to provide training to the youth participants. Twenty-six young people and 10 adults participated and presented in a farm retreat, focusing on “Stopping the onset of Juvenile Diabetes through nutritious food.” The youth were able to give their power point presentation using the LCD projector and hand held microphone. The End of the Year brochures were also passed out to all participants and placed at the (CDC) and other area agencies. The 15 youth seeded, transplanted, weeded, fertilized, harvested and marketed for 14 weeks, 30 baskets of seasoning fruits and vegetables to 30 Community Supported Agriculture members, including a weekly basket to the Senior Citizen Center and their families. From start to finish the youth participated in farm activities including making presentations to several groups (other farms, schools, churches) promoting health, nutrition and entrepreneurship. An additional program trained the youth to cook healthy traditional dishes with the assistance of local chefs William Green at the Coastal Community Development Corporation’s commercial kitchen. The youth prepared all the Gullah Style food for the retreat.

Project Objectives:

Improved economic, health, social, and cultural opportunities for the local community by use of the Marshview Community, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Organic Farm.

1. The CSA aspect of recruiting members to the project was accomplished through the combined efforts of several groups. The Coastal Conservation League, Unitarian Fellowship of Beaufort and the County contributed through publicity to attract members, members volunteered at the farm for a minimum of seven hours and help to distribute the weekly baskets at the Coastal Development Corporation.

2. Adult members, youth and their families promoted and consumed an abundance of local and organic foods due to the success of the project. Interaction included physically working at the farm, mentoring, researching different types of produce that were grown, interaction in the youth training program, analyzing the results of soil testing, and involvement in the youth cooking program.

Research

Research results and discussion:

As a result of this grant we were able to expand the project in the form of expanded outreach activities. The youth gained more responsibility and increased self-esteem as they prepare presentations. As they received training in customer relations and public speaking their skills improved in the use of the audio visual equipment and improved computer skills. This also translated with improved leadership skills and work ethics. Personal talents emerged and group cohesiveness developed as they had to rely on each other to complete many task on the farm and off. The community partners were surprised to see the impact youth can have on each other as they echo the pitfalls of onset juvenile diabetes as the youth made presentations to their peers.

The greatest accomplishment was seeing the youth who once would never eat various vegetables earlier, after growing and cooking those vegetables, were eating them and enjoying them. Which shows that the experience of growing, harvesting, and cooking the vegetables created a mindset change about tasting the vegetables and later enjoying them. The youth always ate dinner after each cooking class.
The CSA served 30 members and reached 36 senior citizens, family members of the youth and many members of the Marshview Community on ”Pick your own” end of the harvest days.

The youth interaction and mentoring with the CSA members broaden both perspectives on diversity and cultural differences. Thanks to this project, we were able to partner with area farmers and the following organizations; Beaufort County Planning Department, Clemson Extension, SC Coastal Conservation League, Community Development Corporation, St. Helena Elementary – (Science Fair Projects, Junior Achievement), area restaurants (Bateaux, Gullah Grub), Unitarian Church, the Presbyterian Church, BiLo, Field’s Farm, and Barefoot Farms making them aware of our program and the assistance we received from SARE.

Participation Summary

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

1. Organized work days at the farm every week involving the youth, CSA members, and any other interested parties. Beaufort County, Unitarian Fellowship of Beaufort, Coastal Conservation League publicized membership opportunities through press releases and website coverage.

2. A cooking school for the youth included demonstrations and meals prepared and served at the Community Development Corporation and the Farm Retreat. Area chefs, William Green and Ohio Green used the commercial kitchen at the Community Development Corporation to teach the youth. The Coastal Conservation League (CCL) and the families and others participated.

3. Youth attended an annual event, sponsored by the CCL and open to the public, where food from the farm was served to the group while they gave presentations about the value of local and growing organic food.

4. We purchased organic seedlings newly available at a local greenhouse, ‘Barefoot Farms’ and other organic seed companies.

5. Interacted with St. Helena Elementary School to facilitate youth programs already in place such by establishing an organic garden on the school grounds utilizing some of the youth from the farm.

6. A summary brochure was prepared at the end of the 2009 season describing the Farm’s activities during the year.

7. We purchased LCD projector and hand held microphone.

8. The several farm facilitators served as an anchor in implementing the farm duties, weeding, planting, harvesting, irrigation, etc.) organizing farm work days and supervising the volunteers.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.