Final report for YENC18-131
We believe that youth learn best through an experiential learning model. We always have youth harvesting and cooking with the food that we grow. Next year, we will have the added component of using the produce for our monthly community meals. Our youth will get the additional satisfaction of using their produce to bring their community together. Our program will have weekly workshops on a variety of topics, including nutrition, healthy eating, food safety, and cooking. They will in turn teach community.
Firstly, we would like to make the garden a core part of our program offerings. Currently, the garden is integrated into our summer program and the youth and staff love it and have been asking to make it a year-round program. We took the first step towards that end this year by partnering with the Science Museum of Minnesota to start an indoor hydroponic program.
These programs are currently separate. Our vision for the coming year is to integrate the programs into one to create a year-round gardening program. Our main goal is to be able to grow 100% of the food for our monthly gatherings.
Educational & Outreach Activities
We engaged youth, parents, educators, and community through a variety of events and workshops. We offered monthly tours of our operations and offered workshops throughout the community.
We engaged 27 youth directly, year-round for the first full program year. 22 of these were high schoolers, and 5 were middle schoolers. They participated in programming for 2-5 hours per week and are our core group of youth. We measured their changes in knowledge, attitude, skills, and awareness through audio/video interviews and surveys. A full 100% of these core youth reported positive changes in all of these categories. These youth also were taught to deliver programming to community members (including youth) through our Monthly Gathering series and other community workshops. While the number of youth and families impacted through these were substantial, we did not measure their changes in a formal way.
Organizational support for our program continues to increase as we have shown how effective sustainable agriculture is in engaging youth of color in particular. We have found that our approach of growing food with an end result has a profound impact on our youth’s willingness to learn and try new techniques. Our monthly Gathering series gives them something to look forward to every month and a consistent venue to test out new micro greens and recipes.
One of our high school seniors from the first year got accepted into the University of Minnesota’s food science program. Upon entering our program, he was interested in pursing a law degree, but was so enthused with how healthy food that he helped grow and cook made strangers so happy, that he choose a different career path. He is now in his second year of college and has decided that he is most interested in helping make packaged foods more nutrient dense through infusing locally grown superfood powders.
We were not able to meet our goal of growing 100% of the food for our monthly Gathering series. In the months when we had outdoor produce, we did meet the goal. However, during the winter months, our hydroponic garden could not meet the entire demand. In the future, we will look to grow produce that freezes well during the winter months and possibly look into canning. We also have started increasing our capacity by building a tiered micro greens rack that will enable us to increase our microgreen production to 6x its current capacity.