Youth Farm runs both school year and growing season programming, working with the same number of youth in each, over 700 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 9 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.
- Youth Farmers (9-11 year olds): 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 year olds): 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 year olds): Youth Farm provides youth employment opportunities with a 100-hour paid school year internship, followed by 25 hour/week growing season employment to continue to engage older youth. Project LEAD participants develop mentorship, conflict resolution, leadership, community organizing and work skills through community-based projects, project planning, and mentorship of younger youth. Project LEAD plan farm plots and distribution efforts for all food grown at Youth Farm, engaging directly in local food systems.
- Farm Stewards (19-24 year olds): The Farm Stewards fellowship program is the final stage of Youth Farm’s progressive program model. Farm Stewards are Project LEAD graduates that Youth Farm supports to become social change fellows within our five neighborhoods. Throughout this fellowship, Farm Stewards will focus on a combination of:
- Increasing program opportunities in our neighborhoods with high level leadership;
- Career and workforce skill building; and
- Skill development within the context of food, social change, and youth development.
Youth Farm has designed our Farm Stewards fellowship 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 FS Fellowship; and
- Young adults exploring a specific area of Youth Farm’s work in farming, community organizing, fundraising, nonprofit management, etc.