Youth Intern Program at Growing Hope

Project Overview

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2012: $2,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Manager:
Danielle Gartner
Growing Hope


  • Fruits: melons, berries (brambles)
  • Vegetables: beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), onions, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips
  • Additional Plants: herbs, ornamentals
  • Animals: bees


  • Education and Training: demonstration, mentoring, networking, workshop, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, cooperatives
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, leadership development, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships, urban agriculture, community services, employment opportunities

    Proposal abstract:

    Growing Hope will hire six youth interns, who are community residents between ages 14-18, to work with our organization for ten weeks during the summer of 2012. The youth will gain knowledge and experience in our urban farm’s production and sale of organic vegetables at both farmers markets and wholesale markets. Growing Hope's Youth Intern Program was developed in 2004 to help our community’s young people overcome inter-generational poverty, unemployment, and poor nutrition. Roughly 25 percent of community residents are food insecure and live well below the poverty line (US Census). In the adjacent neighborhood just south of our urban farm, the median income is less than $18,000. In June 2012, we will hire six high-school age youth to participate in our internship program. The Youth Intern Program targets participants who have few resources (financial and other). All Youth Interns come from low- and no-income households. In 2010, 75% of youth interns were eligible for the USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and 75% were African American. As organizational employees, program participants will be exposed to various ways in which sustainable agriculture works as a potential career path and way to create profit while maintaining community and personal values.

    Upon hiring, the youth will immediately begin to learn and work on our urban demonstration farm and in community garden sites around the community. Program participants will work with our farm managers to plan, maintain and harvest from our farm throughout the summer. Organic growing practices and crop diversity are essential to our organization’s mission, and youth in our program will both learn these methods and teach them to others during their internship with us. In doing so, the students will learn how to use compost, how to start seeds and transplant crops, how to water properly and how to plan gardens for both crop rotation and season extension.

    Program participants will have ample opportunity to practice their leadership skills on the farm throughout the summer – they will be in charge of leading various volunteer groups in workdays on the farm. As leaders, they will be able to demonstrate their knowledge of sustainable agriculture practices and teach them to other youth volunteers. In addition, the youth interns will receive training to become nutrition educators, and they will use this training to help plan and teach nutrition education in our organization’s summer youth programming. As the growing season progresses, our program participants will also be involved in the production and sale of vegetables at our local farmers market. Youth will learn how to set up a market stall and display vegetables for sale, as well as how to promote and price their vegetables in order to create sales. Our youth will work closely with our farm managers and other market vendors in order to learn this information and experience how sustainable agriculture can meet profit goals and create opportunities for economic growth. As the summer comes to a close, the program participants will be asked to reflect upon the challenges and successes of their experience and synthesize their thoughts into a PowerPoint presentation, which they will share with members of the community at a season-end potluck.

    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.