City Seeds

Project Overview

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2006: $9,850.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Wendy Burkhart-Spiegel
Poughkeepsie Farm Project


  • Vegetables: beans, cucurbits, garlic, greens (lettuces), okra, peppers, tomatoes


  • Education and Training: demonstration, mentoring, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: community-supported agriculture
  • Production Systems: holistic management
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, urban agriculture, analysis of personal/family life, community services, employment opportunities, social networks, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    City Seeds aims to increase awareness of, participation in, and capacity for a healthy and just food system by combining efforts of community-based food projects in the Mid-Hudson Valley. City Seeds engages limited resource young adults (ages 14-24 years old) living in the cities of Beacon and Poughkeepsie in a project that combines urban farming, market-gardening, farm marketing, and seed saving. At the core of this multi-year, multi-faceted project is the creation of a seed bank of regionally adapted seed stock. In hands-on experiential learning projects based on urban farms and market-gardens, young people from Beacon and Poughkeepsie learn to grow food and learn about the food system. In youth-run booths at farmers markets, young people sell the food they grow and conduct research used to help increase the success of the market and improve access to good food, helping to establishing a youth-powered food policy council. In a series of community meals they have helped to prepare, young people speak to community members about their work in the project, building confidence, leadership skills and cultivating a positive self-image along with knowledge of the diverse culinary traditions of our cities. Finally, in learning to save seeds from plants they have helped to grow, young people draw on the generative power of the earth to nurture the generative power of urban communities. The City Seeds seed bank is thus not only a concrete practice but also a powerful symbol of cultivating community self-sufficiency.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Assessment area 1: Project participants gain the capacity and are given opportunities to farm, grow food, and learn farming and about the food system.

    Skill Development: 80 percent of participants show an increase in knowledge and skills in growing food, farming, seed-saving, food preparation, nutrition, farm-marketing, and the local food system. Measured by pre-and-post skill inventories, self and peer assessments.

    Progression through the program: Each year, two participants advance to clearly defined positions in the program.

    After three years, an active network and resource list has been developed.

    Assessment Area 2: The infrastructure for food access is strengthened.

    By year 3, there will be at least 6 committed farmers in each of the two farmers markets. Farmers markets have the support and involvement of community members, public officials, and area business community.

    Increase in number of people shopping at the farmers’ markets. Percentage increase in use of Farmers Market Nutrition Program Coupons, Senior coupons, increase in the use of EBT to purchase locally grown food.

    By year 3, a food policy council exists and has meaningful leadership and contribution by project participants and graduates.

    Assessment Area 3: A seed bank is established with the accumulation of related skills and resources.

    All participants contribute seeds to the seed bank. 70 percent of participants take seeds out of the seed bank to pass on. The numbers of seed, garlic points, and seed packets: e.g.: 33 packets of seed during the second year of the project, 69-83 packets of seed in the third year; 75-100 packets in the fourth year.

    After three years, Ciy Seeds has developed a curriculum that supports experiential learning in seed saving.

    Resources include library, seed cleaning equipment and experienced personnel.

    Assessment Area 4: Increase the number of program participants and the general community making healthy food choices.

    90 percent of participants will produce and eat healthy food and 90 percent of community members who attend community dinners will eat healthy food.

    80 percent of program participants increase knowledge of healthy food through growing food and the curriculum.

    60 percent of participants will have increased confidence in explaining the importance of healthy food consumption to the general public.

    90 percent of participants take part in community events.

    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.