Community Youth Education Program through Stone’s Throw Urban Farm
The project took shape in the form of “Stone’s Throw Youth Grow”, an informal, day camp style educational program in partnership with West Minnehaha Recreation Center, located in the Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul. Throughout the months of July and August, youth involved in the community center’s drop in program, had weekly, and sometimes bi-weekly opportunities to learn about the local food system, urban sustainable farming, nutrition, and plant science, among other topics. The classes were held both at the recreation center, where the youth installed a new small garden plot, and at the Stone’s Throw Urban Farm plot located only a few blocks from the recreation center. Whether it was through a tag game demonstrating the pollination process, harvesting potatoes and other vegetables for the first time, designing irrigation systems using straws and plastic cups, or participating in a cooking demonstration using local vegetables, both smiles and “aha” moments were plentiful throughout the course of the education program. According to the pre-and post-surveys administered to the participating youth, their feelings toward farming have shifted both towards more interested, and more excited.
Through working with Stone’s Throw, many partnerships and opportunities to share arose throughout the educational program. It was extended beyond the involvement with the West Minnehaha Recreation center, and included a teenage group from Skyline Towers, a group of Iraqi exchange students, pre-school students in Richfield, and the Youth Farm Stewards program. Sharing information and hands-on farming experiences with all these groups spread the message of the farm and the project beyond the scope that was initially expected. A presentation about the entire project took place at Macalester College in the fall of 2012, and the report of the overall project was shared with students, educators, and community members.