Approximately 33% of Marion County, Indiana (Indianapolis) residents live in limited food access areas. This number increases in densely populated and underserved communities, such as the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood of Indianapolis where our partner Felege Hiwot Center (FHC) is located. The lack of fresh produce in this community and limited job opportunities for minority youth have led to both high rates of unemployment and poor health indicators. A better understanding of how jobs can be created in these communities and how to increase access to fresh foods by residents through minority youth urban farming entrepreneurial training, can provide information on how both policy makers and practitioners can tackle this issue. Youth Urban Farming Entrepreneurship Program (YUFEP) will work with the FHC and additional partners to teach youth entrepreneurial skills with a focus on sustainable urban agriculture through focused workshops and hands-on activities. Our primary objective is to help youth develop the skills needed to start their own sustainable urban farm business. This project will build upon already established FHC and youth entrepreneurship efforts, Purdue’s Diversified Farming and Food Systems (DFFS) program (https://www.purdue.edu/dffs) and other sustainable agriculture programming and curricula, such as those indicated later in this proposal for example soil health and business development skills. We will determine the success of the proposed project in multiple ways. Pre-surveys will be administered to explore the youth’s prior entrepreneurial knowledge. Participants will create weekly reflections to demonstrate experiences and skills gained from both activities and workshops provided. Post surveys, individual interviews, and observations will be conducted to evaluate program impacts. Youth will showcase their projects and the best projects will be selected and supported in the form of micro grants. Overall, the project will be framed as a case study, and evaluated as a model for other youth serving programs. The outcomes are to increase youth interest and participation in urban farming and entrepreneurship through entrepreneurial and sustainable agriculture workshops and hands on activities and to establish this program as a model for how sustainable agriculture entrepreneurship can impact local communities. This work has the potential to increase employment opportunities, expand sustainable agriculture practices and improve the healthy eating of minority youth within the program community.
Project objectives from proposal:
YUFEP primary objective is to help youth develop skills needed to start their own sustainable urban farm business. First objective will provide workshops and hands on activities on sustainable agriculture and entrepreneurship for youth using professionals, entrepreneurs, and volunteers who share their skill sets. This includes identifying those community members who will serve as volunteers and mentors. Second objective is to support minority youth with micro grants and mentoring so they can start and operate their own small businesses. Third objective will involve a case study of this program as a model, and disseminate results for other youth serving programs.