Urban Agricultural Work/Study Experience for Young Urban Adults

Project Overview

Project Type: Education Only
Funds awarded in 2023: $44,997.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2025
Grant Recipient: Gardens for Growing Community, Inc.
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
Principal Investigator:
Tixie Fowler
Gardens for Growing Community, Inc.


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: demonstration, mentoring, youth education
  • Sustainable Communities: urban agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    Although career pathway exploration is embedded in high school curriculum, opportunities for hands-on, real world connections to careers in Agriculture are minimal for young people living in urban and suburban communities. Furthermore, the student body in schools served by Gwinnett County Public Schools is majority minority, with 19.4% White, 32.3% Black, 11.2% Asian or Asian/Pacific Islander, 32.7% Hispanic/Latino, 0.2% American Indian or Alaska Native, and 0.1% Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. These statics reflect a high number of young urban people fitting a demographic historically under-represented in Agriculture careers.

    To address these shortfalls, Gardens for Growing Community (G4GC) proposes a series of educational work-study experiences that provide young adults ages 17 – 21 and interested in Agriculture, a variety of opportunities to gain meaningful exposure to urban Ag systems, and related careers. Participants may choose to work with urban farmers, learning to grow food that is then donated to local food banks. Additionally, they may select the chance to explore a broader scope of Ag-based careers by spending time with experts in a diversity of Ag-based professions. Whether they choose one or both of these experiences, young adults participating in these programs will gain hands-on experience on a working urban farm, strengthen valuable workforce skills, and begin or add to their professional resume. In addition, they will have a better understanding of the academic pathways best suited for their interests. Outreach will target and encourage young adults from under-resourced and/or under-represented communities, increasing their awareness of collegiate and technical school opportunities, related scholarships and internships,and entrepreneurial options that support meaningful and productive careers.

    A small-scale pilot of this concept was successfully implemented in 2022 in 2 cohorts conducted on one urban farm, engaging a total of 8 interns, 7 of whom were African American or Hispanic females. They were responsible for assisting the farmer in general, also constructing raised beds, preparing and amending soil, and managing the seeding, planting and maintenance of their allocated program space. Over 150 pounds of fresh food were donated to a local food pantry; in addition, the youth participated as vendors at a farmers market, managing the marketing and sales of their produce. Five of the 7 interns were rising college freshmen and reported their experience significantly increased their interest in pursuing Ag- and conservation-based careers. All interns reported a 100% increased awareness of sustainable agriculture practices, and reported new awareness of the connections between community health and fresh, locally grown food. They also reported a sense of pride that their work had meaning and value, with increased confidence in their own ability to grow food using sustainable practices. One intern returned to assist the farmer outside of organized programming - another now plans to attend a land grant college to study Agriculture. By building upon this success and expanding programming to engage more young people in additional work/study experiences, G4GC envisions a broader outreach and deeper dive into the opportunities and value of Ag-based livelihoods for young urban adults. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Conduct 4 (10week)cohorts on urban farms (each cohort @ 6-hour/sessions)


    2. Engage 4 participants per farming cohort


    3. Engage 16 participants per Ag-education cohort (2 cohorts)


    4. Engage 1 young adult per year to continue harvest and delivery of seasonal produce


    5. Engage participants and mentors who reflect participant demographics


    6. Engage least 2 urban farmers as mentors to share their expertise and host work in an educational context on their urban farm sites.


    7. Engage at least 6 Ag experts to host site visits for Ag Education program.


    8. Harvest and distribute at least 250 lbs of fresh food a year to local food banks.


    9. Report 100% of participants confirm an increased confidence in their ability to grow their own food and to pursue a career in sustainable Agriculture.

    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.