Skip to Content

July 21, 2023 | Education

Summer Stories: Youth Development Program, Week 4

Week four of the Youth Development Program was filled with harvesting, planting, and a field trip to a pasture-based farm!

The Youth Development Program is a paid opportunity for high-school-age students to develop and hone various skills in preparation for life beyond the classroom. The summer session is called the Seed Crew, and is 8 weeks of working, learning, and connecting as a team.

We’re halfway through our summer session of the Youth Development Program, and production on the Urban Farm is ramping up!

On Monday, we worked on an eco brick wall near the Urban Farm’s Adirondack chair. Eco bricks are plastic water bottles packed tightly with single-use plastic waste that can be used to build various things, such as benches, walls, and so much more. After that, we went over to Cedar River Academy to water and weed their outdoor learning garden. The garden is producing lots of tomatoes, zucchinis, and peppers. We also planted lettuce, carrots and yellow squash while we were there. Students and families from CRA will soon be able to pick up produce from this garden, and anything left over will be donated to Groundswell Cafe or the Cultivate Hope Corner Store.

Tuesday, we took a field trip to West Form Farmstead, a pasture-based farm in West Chester, IA. Natasha, a farmer, took us on a tour of their farm. We learned all about what makes a pasture-based farm different from other types of farms! Along the way, we picked up windfallen apples to feed to the pigs. We also saw their cows and chickens, and even their farm cats and dogs! After the tour, we helped harvest apples that West Fork will use to make applesauce and preserves.

On Wednesday, we harvested beans at the Urban Farm, and helped clean out and replant the hydroponics system in Groundswell’s event space. Hydroponics is a way to grow plants with only water and nutrients. That afternoon, we toured Groundswell Cafe, where Groundswell Director Philip shared an overview of how the pay-it-forward system works to allow everyone to eat a healthy meal at Groundswell, regardless of their ability to pay. He also gave an overview of some ways to incorporate upcoming produce harvests into new value-added products. Stay tuned to learn what we will be making!

Thursday, we worked on the Urban Farm to prepare for that night’s Farmers Market. We harvested and weighed potatoes and broccoli, packaged the zucchini bread, and then worked on tidying up the pavilion area by cleaning up the grass edges, weeding the playground, and washing out the produce bins. After lunch, we worked on a journaling activity about what makes someone a good or bad team player. The students compiled a great list of key characteristics about what it takes to be a good team member, and also what makes a good leader. One student brought up the comparison of a basketball team, and we made connections on how these teammate concepts can be used in life outside of the court!

See you next week!