Before receiving this grant we had been growing our own vegetable in small amounts and attending farmers markets which allowed us to generate some revenue for the past two years. However we wanted to expand our reach. The operation was meant to introduce the youth and others to building a local sustainable food system, as well as to train the youth in the proper production and marketing. WE used a total of 15 acres to produce; Okra, Squash, Beets, Greens, Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, and Watermelons. The youth and their families helped with daily operations such as weeding and harvesting the crops.
Our goal was to introduce the proper food production to today’s youth in the Denbroke Township and greater Kankakee area, which are unaware of the healthy and economical benefits of agriculture from beginning to end. The goal is also to help the youth to respond to building a local sustainable food system.
Developing a good relationship with the community allowed us to have excellent resources to work with.
Dealing with the youth allowed us to obtain inexperienced man power that would not have been available otherwise.
Dealing with the elderly brought with it experience and education.
Combining the two, youth and elderly, produced an excellent level of productivity, and built a new relationship in the community.
This grant helped me understand the importance of community, education, resources and available marketing resources. This has been a great help in understanding record keeping, as well as educational information that is readily available to assist in becoming sustainable. Yes, I overcame barriers by knowing the need for greater farm production and the people being so helpful helped to develop more relationships and to identify others needs that I could meet. The advantages are helping develop closer relationships and resources in the community. The disadvantage was encouraging others that this was an important need and resource for the community. Also it was difficult to find youth that were willing to make it fun and learn as well as elders that were willing to teach. I would tell others that it was not only farm building it was community building.
The methods we used were word of mouth, newsletters, pamphlets and referrals from summer camps. We sent letters home to camp kids, and advertised in the children’s museum. Youth has become educated and informed on where their food comes from as well as the production and growth process. This was also an opportunity to find out and understand what sustainability is. Knowing allows them to understand the significance of farming. The economical structure allowed the youth to see the job opportunity in farming through farmers markets and direct sells.
The Plans we have for further communications will be through flyers and newsletters. We were able to reach as far west as Joliet and as far north as the southern suburbs of and west side of Chicago with our family relationships and word of mouth.
We had three demonstrations with about 15-20 participants. There was an article in the Kankakee Journal which mentioned our program. We will continue to send newsletters throughout the year in order to make others aware of the program. We will continue to encourage word of mouth from previous participants as well as attend other seminars and workshops to share our results on the project. We will continue to be active in the community working with other small farmers sharing thoughts, ideas and our vision.