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July 28, 2023 | Education

Summer Stories: Youth Development Program, Week 5

Despite the heat, the students did some great work at the Urban Farm and had fun with journaling exercises!

high school student presenting their farm ideas, drying out the onion harvest, and baking in groundswell cafe

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.

This week was HOT and we’re sure everyone in the Corridor was feeling it, too! Thankfully the students did a great job managing their work with plenty of time to rest and rehydrate.

On Monday, we finished up a few jobs from the previous week, like sidewalk edging and weeding at the Urban Farm. We also harvested the last of the broccoli and kohlrabi for this round of planting, but don’t fret, new brassicas were planted this week to be ready for a fall crop! The students spent the rest of the day doing a journaling activity. They were asked to brainstorm a list of problems we face in gardening or agriculture, and were then put in groups to dream up a solution to one of them. It was our version of Shark Tank, and they did not disappoint. Posters were made to show the product, the cost, and all the features. The creativity and reasoning they placed behind their products was a treat to see in their presentations. Each group thoughtfully solved problems in food production and harvesting, soil testing, and best of all, a special machine to weed for us! The students said it was one of their favorite activities so far.

On Tuesday, the students worked on a lot of harvesting. They started with okra and tomatillos, and moved on to the big task of onions. This was the first time this year we harvested onions, and they made quick work of the field. When onions are harvested, the green tops remain on, and they are laid out to dry before they can be trimmed and stored. This was a little like Tetris for the students to get them all laid out well enough to encourage good airflow for drying. They did a great job, and all decided to sample the fresh onions. (A few mentioned needing to brush their teeth an exponential amount that evening.) We ended the day out under the pavilion in the shade. We did a few journal entries, and split into groups for some Matthew 25 Trivia. 

Wednesday was extra hot! We broke into groups to divide and conquer the day’s tasks. One group made zucchini bread, another cleaned up the bathrooms and pavilion. The last group finished more onion Tetris from yesterday’s harvest, and moved on to weeding and dead-heading basil. We moved the crew over to Groundswell Cafe for the afternoon to cool off and learn some new skills in the kitchen. The students had the chance to learn how to make pizza dough, sauce, and the basics of pickling. Philip and Larry from the Cafe Team shared lots of tips and tricks with the students, and even made a few pizzas for them to sample their hard work! 

Because of the heat, the Mega Market was canceled, and the decision was made to give the students Thursday off work. They were excited to have a long weekend, and glad to get some relief from the heat. They earned it through a ton of sweat, that’s for sure! (Don’t forget to join us on Aug. 31 for the next Mega Market!)

Next week is full of more harvesting, weeding, and food prep. Stay cool!