My name is Natalia, and I just graduated IHS. In the fall, I'll be heading to Cornell but for now, I'm just enjoying being in Ithaca all summer working at YFP!
When it was late June in 2011 and I still had no summer job, I was just getting tired of filling out applications, but my parents were actually concerned about my lack of employment. When a friend told me about the Youth Farm Project, it sounded perfect. It was the first job I'd applied for that I actually really wanted. When I got there, it was better than I'd imagined. The sense of community is prevalent with this project on many levels: within Ithaca, as our neighbors are provided with the produce we grow locally; in the barn through team building games and a mutual sense of accomplishment; and within our crews, because of the strength of bonds built by good, hard work.
Every day, as we give ourselves a final round of applause and the dust jolted off our hands floats toward the ceiling, the feeling of pride and accomplishment between all of us is enormous and empowering. At 1:45, it's hard to remember toiling in the fields, smearing tired hands across our sweaty foreheads, stretching our aching backs, and counting down the minutes until break. But every moment spent pulling weeds and pushing a trowel into the hot, hard dirt was worth it because each day, we can see what we've accomplished.
It's hard to believe that this group hasn't been together for even a full week yet--- but also not, because it's easy to see that we've already seen what we're capable of, and motivated ourselves to keep working. I'm looking forward to where we'll go from here.
_The Youth Farm Project supports the BJM Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program by growing vegetables for the program. Help the fresh fruit and vegetable program expand to Cayuga Heights Elementary School. Follow the link below to donate and watch their awesome video below.
Our program has started officially! We now have four crews of about six people in each, and things sure have started to pick up around the farm. Even though we've spent half of each of these first two days doing orientation stuff in the barn, our short stints in the fields have produced incredible changes! This photo shows our crews weeding pathways in the U-pick on our first day of work: Whereas it used to take hours for our small start-up group to weed one pathway, now our real crews can work together to get a whole pathway weeded in less than an hour! Today was our second day together and we weeded four pathways and planted two and a half beds of brussel sprouts! Check back this fall for our Brussel Sprout harvest- last year they were a big hit and we were able to bring in some income for the farm from selling this crop to school families and friends.
It's also been great meeting all the new folks in our program over the last two days. We've had some really thoughtful go-arounds with the group to talk about why this project is important to us and our communities, what community means to us, and our goals and vision for the summer. Check out our Mission and Vission under the "The Project" tab if you haven't already and get in touch with us if you have any way of contributing to this awesome effort!
The Youth Farm Project is off to an unprecedented start this year. We are way ahead (compared to the last two years) in terms of getting plants into the ground, managing weeds, setting up irrigation, expanding acreage and getting ready for an amazing Youth Farm Program for summer 2012. Ann Piombino, the farm manager, and an amazing collection of organizers, interns, youth and adult volunteers have been hard at work to keep this farm alive and growing. Some of these amazing organizers, volunteers, and interns include Dan Flerlage, Katie Church, Joseph Amsili, Leah Grady, Cait Grady, Anna Joyce, Simon Warhaft, Kenny Windstein, Serena Mendola, Emily Belle, Selene Chew, Amanda Wagner, Ben Drinkwater, Natalia Rathbun, Boris Van der Beek, Rane Bullion, Noa Wesley, and many others! A big shout out to all those that helped out before the start of the program! We couldn't have done it without you!
The Youth Farm Project’s Summer Program began with crew leader training on June 28th where older youth that were familiar with the farm gathered to learn and discuss the summer program structure, their roles as crew leaders, leadership skills, the current status of the farm and more. And then on July 5th all the youth ranging from ages 14-18 will arrive on the farm for their first day on the farm.
The Youth Farm Project has been contracted to grow the U-Pick garden as well as the U-pick romas for Full Plate members. The Flowers: Zinnias, Calendula, Marigolds, Cosmos, and more have begun flowering. The herbs: basil and parsley are very close to harvesting. And the Nightshades: romas, cherry tomatoes, big beef, heirloom, hot peppers, and the okra are starting to produce their first fruit.
Ways to Contribute:
Each Saturday from 10am-1pm the Youth Farm Project holds a volunteer work party. So we welcome everyone to come see the farm, help out if they have time on Saturday or stop us and say hi.
Consider making a tax-deductible donation to support the Youth Farm Project. Your Donation helps to fund kids and farmers, buy seeds, fencing, help fix the tractor, and more, which all helps us to engage our youth as integral members of the local food system and to distribute healthy local food to schools and community centers. Thanks for your interest and support!