That Farmer Looks Like Me: Encouraging Urban Youth to Engage in Farming

Progress report for YENC23-198

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2023: $5,984.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2025
Grant Recipient: New City Neighbors
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Manager:
Lance Kraai
New City Neighbors
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Project Information


This project will introduce 30 high school youth annually to a career in sustainable farming and value-added production. Youth will be offered employment in our farm or café social enterprise where they will gain hands on skills in farming and food production. Employment will be coupled with weekly curriculum that will be relatable to urban youth. Youth will engage in topics like racism and sexism in the food system, food sovereignty, food accessibility and go on field trips to Black and Brown food entrepreneurs. Youth will then host community events to share lessons learned to other youth and the community.     

Project Objectives:
  1. Provide 60 youth employees positions in farming and value-added production to urban high school youth in order to offer hands-on learning experiences in sustainable agriculture.
  2. Attend 4 field trips to Black and Brown leaders in the food system so that urban youth of color see themselves represented in the sustainable food industry.
  3. Provide interactive curriculum around racism and sexism in the food system so that urban youth have a lens to analyze their involvement in the food system.
  4. Youth employees will present lessons learned through the project at a small farm conference and on social media.  
  5. Youth employees will plan and lead two community events to showcase lessons learned to the surrounding community.
    2022 Youth led community event panel discussion on racism and sexism in the food system.
    2022 Youth Led Panel Discussion on "Isms" in the Food System.

Educational & Outreach Activities

10 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
2 On-farm demonstrations
4 Tours
2 Webinars / talks / presentations
2 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

10 Farmers/ranchers
40 Youth
5 Parents
8 Educators
30 Other adults
Education/outreach description:

As part of our project, we organized two community events led by youth in 2023. Our youth employees spent the summer conducting research and visiting local farms, after which they planned two panel events with local food system leaders. The youth created posters showcasing their understanding of concepts such as food sovereignty, food apartheid, food deserts, and food inequality. They also helped choose the panelists for each event and prepared questions for the panel discussions. Additionally, the youth assisted in preparing food for the events. Each event was very successful and our youth were able to further their learning while showcasing their work.

In 2024, we plan to host two similar events, and we aim to present our project at a local farm conference.

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.