Over 200 youth participate in urban farming summer programs in Indianapolis, IN with the opportunity to manage their own sites and sell produce at farmer’s markets. Purdue Extension, in partnership with the Felege Hiywot Center (FHC), will develop a youth leadership program around urban farming. The program will provide attendees of the FHC an opportunity to teach neighboring youth organizations urban farming and compost management, as well as how to manage backyard chickens. This will offer leadership development for youth at the FHC, share growing practices with youth throughout the Indianapolis area and create future leaders in urban farming.
- Create a mentoring system where students are trained to teach their peers on sustainable agriculture practices using Purdue Extension curriculum.
- Increase sustainable farming skills of students through hands-on work sessions with farmers, a farm manager, Purdue Extension and the Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) reinforced by farming at school in existing farm plots.
- Youth will gain knowledge on small flock poultry management, composting production and learn how compost application impacts soil health. Provide youth hands-on soil sampling techniques and knowledge on sustainable soil management practices.
- Share project results through social media and conference presentations.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Results from our Focus Group Discussion and activities to date from 2020:
The first time delivering “Creating Youth Leaders Using Sustainable Urban Agricultural Practices” was a great success. The partnerships formed with the Felege Hiywot Center (FHC), SWCD, and Purdue Extension resulted in complementary roles, tasks, and resources for the program and the students.
A positive, inspiring program emerged in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic as the instructors and students were flexible and adapted to delayed and changing schedules and varied delivery from in-person to technology and back. Students at FHC participated in a train-the-trainer program for the Learn, Grow, Eat & Go! Jr. Master Gardener program led by Purdue Extension Marion County. This training prepared the students to teach elementary aged students at the neighboring community center. Students at FHC were also taught soil health, to compliment their curriculum training, by Kevin Allision of the Marion County Soil and Water Conservation District. Having a science-based soil presentation alone first, then a follow-up discussion about soil was beneficial, and led to the students asking many kinds of questions. Starting discussion high level, then getting in soil specifics was a good progression. Students were able to dig into topics and did. Finally, to increase knowledge of various urban agriculture practices, students at FHC also participated in an online poultry course created by Dr. Elizabeth Karcher, Animal Sciences Professor at Purdue University. The training and resources shared prepared the students to teach Jr. Master Gardener throughout the summer and also to engage in local discussions about small scale gardening and urban agriculture.
Instructors were impressed with and saw growth in the students going from learning to practicing, to the actual teaching of children. Aster, Director of Felege Hiywot Center, saw students taking their understanding of children and adapting what they did and said and taught to match/fit. Students were able to express how and why they did these changes. They owned it.
All are looking forward to next year (2021), but also other opportunities for the students in other Purdue Extension programs during the year and program involvement with other classes at the Felege Hiywot Center.
To expand the lessons being taught to youth, in the following years we will also teach families. Felege Hiywot Center has applied and received funding for youth to gain continued leadership related to small scale gardening and urban agriculture, and will begin to also support families in the community.