Gardening, farming and otherwise raising food can be a powerful way for young people and adults to work together. Teaching essential lessons about sustainability, production and hard work, engaging youth as farmers can be an exciting way to change the world.
Ways Youth Can Change the World through Farming
Youth-Led Agriculture — Engaging young people in directing and teaching farming can be a dynamic, empowering way to promote healthy communities through urban and rural agriculture, community gardening, food security, and related environmental justice activities.
Community Gardens — While community gardens engage youth in growing their own food, they can also teach youth how to market food. Growing their own foods and becoming entrepreneurs can foster youth learning about their contributions to local food systems, too.
Out-of-School Time — On the evenings, the weekends and over the summer, young people can grow, manage, and otherwise operate gardens and farms of their own and with adults as allies. Youth leadership can transform communities, ensure healthy foods for rural and urban places, and transform their relationships within themselves and the world around them.
Things Youth Need to Change the World through Farming
Apprenticeships — Traditional agricultural apprenticeships weren’t formal, and didn’t have much room for youth voice. Today, these learning opportunities can be formal or informal, and should be driven by youth/adult partnerships. Both young people and adult farmers can learn from each other, and engaging youth in changing the world through agriculture is one way that can happen.
Education — Farming is woven deeply in human heritage from all cultures around the world. Youth farmers can be essential partners in moving this heritage towards the future, with meaningful educational opportunities and the empowering sharing of knowledge from previous generations.
Stories — Stories of youth as farmers can be vital tools for engaging youth in agriculture. Young people can learn values, history and different perspectives on food and farming, and can see themselves as part of the ongoing arc of human evolution. This identity allows them to see deeply into the past, and understand where they can guide their communities and the world into the future.
- Youth-Led Farming Handbook by Felege Hiywot Center
- GRuB – Garden-Raised Bounty
- Offers empowerment programs that focus on building youths’ nutrition, self-esteem, community connections, and academic enthusiasm. These programs are in the form of academic and employment opportunities to these youth, primarily between the ages of 13 and 19 in Thurston County, Washington.
- Durham Inner-city Gardens – A youth-driven urban market farm and landscaping business. We empower ourselves by learning all that we can about organic gardening, healthy business practices and responsible leadership. We break down racial and cultural barriers through communication and understanding within our diverse crew. We grow produce using organic techniques and sell it at the Durham Farmer’s Market. And we promote and maintain open green spaces within the city.
- Seattle Youth Garden Works – Empowers underserved youth through garden-based education and employment. We are a youth market gardening program for homeless and youth-in-need ages 14-22 in the University District and South Park neighborhoods. Our goals are to connect youth to housing, health care, education, jobs and community.
- The Food Project Youth Program – Agriculture, enterprise and service are combined to create a rigorous, practical and integrated experience. Through all of our youth programs, people of all ages bridge communities through farming and food and discover their interdependence with ach other as well as with those who purchase and receive their produce. Youth and adults in Lincoln, Nebraska and Boston, Massachusetts learn that work on the land can be a powerful equalizer, teacher and catalyst for personal, local and global change.
- Mo Better Food – This student-led organization works in the West Oakland, California seeks to establish a self-sufficient network between African- American farmers and predominate African- American communities; to preserve and improve Land owned by African-Americans by networking with African- American farmers in the Southern states; and to educate the predominate African- American communities of their history concerning land ownership and farming.
- Literacy for Environmental Justice – An urban environmental education and youth empowerment organization created specifically to address the unique ecological and social concerns of Bayview Hunters Point, San Francisco, and the surrounding communities of Mission, Potrero Hill, Visitacion Valley, and Excelsior, California.
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth engagement in farming and agriculture in your community or organization, contact us.