Youth Farm runs both school year and growing season programming, working with over 600 youth annually.
Growing Season Programming
Alongside youth, there are also plants growing at Youth Farm, mainly during the months of April through October – this time is referred to as our “growing season.” During the growing season, Youth Farm offers a variety of farming, cooking and community event-focused program opportunities for youth to engage in. These programs happen at a variety of times and locations, and aim to reach more youth and include more opportunities for choice in how and what youth engage in.
School Year Programming
During the school year, youth farmers participate in farm classes, cooking classes, and community meals along with in-school and after school greenhouse, hoophouse, and gardening classes. Strong school year programs and community involvement opportunities through food-based work is a key element to Youth Farm’s success. During the school year, much of the planning and community organizing work happens in a way that allows for true success during the growing season.
Youth Farm Age Groups
Our youth development curriculum is based on a progressive programming model. Children as young as nine participate and may continue to be involved until they are 24 years old. As youth “age” with Youth Farm, the curriculum changes and they find increasingly challenging and age-appropriate opportunities for growth and leadership.
The stages of our progressive program model include:
- Youth Farmers (9-11 years old): In both summer and school year programming, Youth Farmers focus on interpersonal skills development while mastering gardening and cooking skills. Youth Farmers learn about how food choices impact their lives.
- All Stars (12-13 years old): All Stars incorporate intentional, specific program and neighborhood leadership roles while focusing on role modeling and cultural competency skills. All Stars learn about food systems, taking responsibility to distribute the food in each neighborhood.
- Project LEAD (14-18 years old): school year internship & paid hourly summer employment
- Project LEAD take on the role of managing programming for Youth Farmers and All Stars and assisting on farm sites with farm design, planting and seeding, weeding, harvesting, and food distribution. They also participate in community events and learn to use food as a tool to engage their peers, residents of all ages, and community partners.
- Project LEAD develop mentorship, conflict resolution, leadership, community organizing, and work skills through all of their community-based projects.
- Farm Stewards (19-24 years old): paid employment & leadership development program
- Farm Stewards track and manage overall farm plans while also serving as mentors to Project LEAD
- Farm Stewards are tasked with developing and nurturing community partnerships to implement Youth Farm programming with the goal of developing strong skills surrounding careers and workforce, leadership, management, social change, community organizing, and youth development.
Youth Farm has designed our Farm Stewards program to emphasize a more personal and flexible approach to leadership development. We aim to include Farm Stewards at different stages of their personal, educational, and professional development, including:
- Those pursuing long term career in youth work;
- Students in a higher education setting, earning credit through their Farm Steward position; and
- Young adults exploring a specific area of Youth Farm’s work in farming, community organizing, fundraising, nonprofit management, etc.