Big Muddy Urban Farm and Gifford Park Youth Garden Program

Project Overview

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2016: $2,000.00
Projected End Date: 01/15/2018
Grant Recipient: Big Muddy Urban Farm
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Project Manager:
Brent Lubbert
Big Muddy Urban Farm

Information Products


  • Vegetables: beans, beets, carrots, cucurbits, greens (lettuces), peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), tomatoes
  • Animals: bees, goats, poultry
  • Animal Products: eggs


  • Education and Training: mentoring, youth education
  • Sustainable Communities: community development, ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, local and regional food systems, partnerships, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration

    Proposal abstract:

    Project Abstract

    This grant will help fund residents of Big Muddy Urban Farm's Educational Residency with facilitating programming of the Gifford Park Youth Garden Program. This promotes sustainable agriculture education in two forms. First, each BMUF resident will develop and teach 2 of the 15 Youth Garden program days. Second, the youth gardeners take away what is being taught and are able to apply it to their own 2’ x 2’ plot. BMUF residents will build on the work of past residencies and continue to develop quality programming and field trips for the GPYGP and other farm, garden, and educational organisations.

    Detailed Project Plan and Timeline

    Big Muddy Urban Farm will teach sustainable agriculture practices with our residency program and 3 residents will have the opportunity to become food leaders in our communities. Residents will learn the ropes of farming via our CSA and collaboratively managing our urban farm which operates by organic standards. From this small scale, guided operation, they will develop a more realistic understanding of what production-scale farming involves and what they would like moving forward. We teach sustainability by actually doing it - managing soils, analyzing a budget, having conversations about the food system, marketing produce, self-reflecting, cooking community meals with our produce, and following weather patterns.

    The interaction between BMUF and the 30 Gifford Park Youth Gardeners is an integral part of both organisations. For the last 4 years BMUF has been voluntarily managing a large part of the Youth Garden programming and infrastructure. We would like to be able to provide even more support in the form of quality program materials, field trips, and improved accessibility. The Youth Gardeners learn about sustainable agriculture by participating in a free summer garden program focused on developing practical gardening, culinary, and creative skills. The 30 youth are provided with their own 2x2 raised garden plot to grow on and a group session each week focusing on different topics including but not limited to, seed germination, composting and soil nutrition, raising chickens, fruit and vegetable preservation, seed saving and the life cycles of nature.


    December, 2011 - Big Muddy Urban Farm forms
    November 6th, 2015 - Received $25,000 Sherwood Grant
    December 15th, 2015 - Open application process for residency program
    January 15th, 2016 - close residency application process
    January 21st, 2016 - Apply for USDA BFRDP Grant
    January 22nd, 2016 - inform applicants of status
    January, 2016 - Order chickens
    February, 2016- Start seeds at Creighton University greenhouse
    April 18th, 2016 - Have youth garden planning session with community members interested (form a schedule for the garden programming)
    May 13th, 2016 - Gifford Park Youth Garden starts season
    June 3rd, 2016 - First Lesson Plan Published
    July 8th, 2016 - Second Lesson Plan Published
    August 5th, 2016 - Third Lesson Plan Published
    August 19th, 2016 - Begin survey of parents
    August 26th, 2016 - Gifford Park Youth Garden ends season

    Resources Used

    Organizations partnering with Youth Garden Programming :
    Cooking Matters, WeCompost, Therman Statum Art Studio, Nebraska Wildlife Rehab, Truck Farm Omaha.

    Organizations partnering with BMUF:
    Gifford Park Neighborhood Association, Creighton University, Yates Community Center, The Community Bicycle

    Project, Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society, Omaha Home for Boys.

    TBD Curricula:
    Established “plant your plot” lesson plans, volunteers and parents.

    Website development: Little Guy Designs


    BMUF residents are required to design two activities for the youth garden program. In so doing, at least one of the activities they design will be formatted and published. The completed content will be available free to the public on our website and we will include it in The Yearbook, our seasons-end book. Our residency will involve 3 residents making a total of at least 3 published works on activities for youth garden programs.

    Year after year, these will add up and have the potential to be a valuable resource in regional youth garden education. Each new addition will be promoted through social media to maintain a constant connection with the public so that these resources are made continually available.

    We have included in this proposal funding to improve our website so that we can make these lesson plans easy to find and navigate as well as other resources we will be able to offer.

    Student and Community Impact

    Students will gain a sense of self-reliance by better understanding how to cultivate vegetables and how to process what they have grown. As they grow older and time becomes more segmented, they will have a natural inclination to know what to do with the shovel and the knife. This helps the broader farming community because with a more educated consumer base knowing how to prepare fresh produce they will be more inclined to buy and use fresh produce. Big Muddy Urban Farm will establish itself more within the community as a public resource. Residents will learn how to lead and teach. Youth gardener attendance will be tracked. Volunteers and presenters in attendance will also be recorded. The Gifford Park Youth Garden Program is more than just youth; many of the parents are also in attendance. We will survey the parents to see if any of the lessons learned through the Youth Garden are being brought home and how receptive the home environment is to growing and cooking food.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Empower students to gain a sense of self-reliance by better understanding how to cultivate vegetables and how to process what they have grown.
    2. Grow the broader farming community by cultivating a more educated consumer base knowing how to prepare fresh produce, who may consequently be more inclined to buy and use fresh produce.
    3. Further establish Big Muddy Urban Farm within the community as a public resource for residents, youth gardeners, parents, other volunteers and presenters.
    4. Extend impact of program to a wider audience through creating and publishing works on activities for youth garden programs, social media, and website updates.
    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.