Wow! It’s a busy summer here on Rural Resources’ Holly Creek Farm!
Though the Farm and Food Teen Training Program provides year-round opportunities for our teens, the summer is definitely the apex of activity . I’m amazed (and a little breathless) trying to keep up with all the programming and the enthusiasm that the youth bring to it. For starters, let me update you on the Teen Garden. The first numbers are in. Garden and Grazing Manager Taylor Boles provided this list:
-64 pecks of lettuce [all donated to food bank]
-3 pecks of peas
-2 pecks of broccoli
-4 pecks of kale
-2 pecks of collards
-3 pecks of dill and cilantro
-approx. ¼ peck of tomatoes
-2 pecks of basil
The planting continues! As more summer crops continue to come in, Taylor and the teens plan to start seeds for the fall garden during the next couple of weeks. They were just in the planning stages last week, so check back next month to see what’s growing.
Taylor also taught them to make “worm tea.” … I know. I wondered too. But it turns out, it’s an excellent liquid fertilizer made from worm castings, otherwise known as “worm poop.” It’s easy for plants to absorb through the ground or the leaves and doesn’t shock them like commercial fertilizer applications, working with the ecology of the soil for long-term benefits.
Because soil health is so important to the health and productivity of the plants, she walked the teens through the process of taking a soil sample in the teen garden. Each teen will sample their owm garden at their home and all the samples will be dropped off at the local extension office. Taylor will follow up with each youth individually, to amend their soil according to the results of their sample.
We like to incorporate art into our other activities whenever possible. Lately that has meant painting. One project was making signs for the garden.
The other was a rain barrel making workshop lead by Kayla, our communications coordinator. The barrels weren’t the only things that got painted:
And speaking of art, some of the teens helped out with the first annual Local Food and Arts Festival here on the farm. It was a huge success and we are looking forward to next year’s event.
We do like food here at the farm, whether that’s preparing, sharing or eating it. In the month of June, the teens participated in some community outreach by doing food demos at farmers markets and reaching out to those who are food insecure.
They shared some bounty and some love with our local soup kitchen.
There were also cooking and preservation classes during the month, including recipes for an amazing chicken salad, enchiladas, pizzas and strawberry jam. (I offered my excellent taste testing skills in the kitchen and can personally give two thumbs up on the enchiladas!)
While we all enjoy working with our teens, we’re also very motivated by outcomes and a desire to see them grow as people, as well as in their farming and culinary skills. With that in mind, Miss Debbie, our Farm and Food Teen Training Program Coordinator, added a few extra items to her already mind boggling schedule. We hosted several meetings and dinners for staff, participating youth, their families and alumni to speak with independent evaluators. It’s very important to us have an objective way to measure how far we have come, what our graduates have achieved and to help us with planning for the future. We also put our data tracking to good use with Community Research Partners, a nonprofit that helps other nonprofits gather or use data for grant writing and reporting. We are happy to report that the Farm and Food Teen Training program showed significant and consistent gains in our yearly surveys of the youth. A big thank you to CRP!
Whew, there’s more but it’s time to get this posted!
Looking ahead: Our youth will soon be planning their community outreach for the Greene County Fair. In the meantime, enjoy some more photos of our June activities:
Farm and Food Teen Training Program Assistant