Urban Farm for Akron-area Immigrant Youth and Their Families

Final report for YENC22-175

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2022: $6,000.00
Projected End Date: 01/15/2024
Grant Recipient: Shanti Community Farms, Inc.
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Manager:
Thomas Crain
Shanti Community Farms, Inc.
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Project Information


Through the use of a real working immigrant urban farm with native seed crops provided by the Akron Zoo, primarily managed and operated by Bhutanese and Congolese farmers, the immigrant youth will be educated through hands-on experience and adaptation of farm to school curriculum.  Career practices will include the implementation of a farmers market, catered picnics/culinary arts and CSA. The main goal is to ensure that agricultural heritage with inherent sustainable practices from local immigrants (85%  have agricultural backgrounds) are preserved and enhanced through the upcoming generations.  Also, adaptation of native crops will also be integral to the program.

Project Objectives:
  1. Enhance sustainable farming heritage skills of immigrant middle-high schoolers through work sessions with farmers via Akron Zoo farm demonstration plots.
  2. Introduce immigrant youth to ag career through Public Schools’ Career Academy via meetings with immigrant farmers, chefs, grocers.
  3. Provide students with background on sustainable agriculture practices via IATP’s Farm2School Youth Leadership curriculum and Growing Minds’ resources. Students will research/lead sessions on adapting native seed from their respective home country’s climate and other factors to Northeast Ohio.
  4. Give youth direct marketing experience via farmers market/catered picnics for public at Zoo.
  5. Share project results through forum and social media.




Educational & Outreach Activities

4 Consultations
5 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
6 On-farm demonstrations
4 Published press articles, newsletters
2 Tours
12 Webinars / talks / presentations
4 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

35 Youth
12 Parents
5 Educators
12 Other adults
Education/outreach description:

To date, our farm and yard corps program have been featured in various media. We have shared outreach through press release, social media and through our website.

Urban Farm at Zoo

Article and interview highlighting farm heritage, partnership with Akron Zoo, and challenges such as zoning that farmers have had to face in Akron:


Hewa Bora “Fresh Air” Farm PPT rev 11.16Hewa Bora “Fresh Air” Farm PPT rev 11.16Urban Farm Business Plan@Zoo 2022

Our farm to school program partnered with Akron Schools and features garden skills, nature games and crafts, and helping with the farmers market. Shanti Farms Website: https://www.shantifarmshoh.com 

Yard Corps News Release.docx


Voyage Ohio Profile on Dir Tom Crain of Shanti Farms


We also have the youth cater picnics –called “A Golden Time Picnic”– for the public who experience the immigrants’ cuisine with locally grown ingredients. The youth cook and prepare the food, serve it, and then our Hot Pepperz and Black Beanz teens perform. We also hold periodic farmers’ markets run by immigrant youth.


Learning Outcomes

35 Youth reporting change in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness
Key changes:
  • Outdoor maintenance and farming skills including mowing, tilling, soil enrichment, fencing, crop plating, crop harvesting , irrigation.

  • Awareness in accountability and dependability to show up for job and complete job requirements and perform high quality of duty.

  • Creating signage and pricing and packaging for food sold at farmers market.

  • Preparing local organic food dishes including African mandazi sweet bread and momos to sell at local farmers markets.

Project Outcomes

3 Grants received that built upon this project
3 New working collaborations
Increased organizational support to explore and teach sustainable ag:
Explanation for change in organizational support to explore and teach sustainable ag:

We were able to hold several Ward meetings explaining our projecdt with the Akron Zoo. Many residents stepped up to assist and participate in the project.

Parents adopting sustainable agriculture practices:
Sustainable Agriculture practices parents adopted:

seed collection

Success stories:

A youth participant was able to use his baking skills to use ingredients grown in the garden and sell his baked goods (all sold out continuously) at our partner organization that ran the local farmers market. 


Introduce tutoring of math and language arts for students with ag-related themes and also inject ESL training for the immigrant farmers participating who are a captive audience and are relaxed enough to participate. 

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.