Beginning a new year always holds a sense of transition, in our personal lives and in the work that each of us pours into the Youth Farm. This year in particular I am feeling both fear and excitement for this upcoming change and movement forward, an upheaval that I have never experienced before. It is my senior year of high school, and as I lean into this time of decision making and planning for my future, the years I have spent at the Youth Farm are holding me up, much like the way we lovingly wrap our tomato plants with twine, gently reminding them to keep growing upwards. I couldn’t be more excited, as I plan a gap year of traveling with some of my favorite people on this planet, and make a decision about where I will attend college. My future is filled with some amazing opportunities, and not surprisingly many of them are inspired by my work at the Youth Farm Project. But this excitement is also incredibly bitter sweet, as I begin to think about moving forward, ultimately parting ways with family, friends and this beautiful farm, at least for a little while.
Winter on the farm seems to mirror this same transition, as all of us at the farm reflect on the past year and look towards the future. The past five years at the Youth Farm Project have been full of excitement, energy and positive movement forward. Now in this time of beautiful quiet and peace on the farm, we gather with a sense of potential and purpose, to envision how we can continue our supported evolution, expansion and growth upwards.
It is with joy that I can share with you plans for the construction of our very own mobile farmers market! The designing and building of this project will be the way in which I demonstrate my readiness to graduate from the Lehman Alternative Community School, where I have attended school since 6th grade. The farm has inspired me to think deeply about my place in the world, what space I want to fill and how my passions and aspirations intersect. This planet is a complex place on which to grow, and I am constantly realizing the ways in which my interest in agriculture, sustainability and social justice connect. It feels fitting to me to embark on this project, which may seem simple at first glance, but actually represents something complex, that contains layers of growth for myself and for the farm.
Right now I am in the beginning stages of designing a mobile market stand that will be built using a flat bed trailer, which can be hitched to a car or truck. As the Youth Farm gets older, we have begun to think more about marketing strategies, by creating value added products, and attending various farmers markets. Having a mobile market stand will allow us to travel more freely around the community, and give youth working at the farm more opportunity to gain experience interacting with consumers. In addition, it will offer us the potential to address needs in our community, by reaching areas that have less access to affordable, local, organic produce. Food justice is a concept that was introduced to me during my first summer of work at the Youth Farm. To me the concept represents a complex intersection of issues, which leads to unequal opportunity in the ability to afford healthy food. Because it is a complex issue, solutions are also complex, and I feel clear that simply bring food into a community that “needs it” is not a sufficient solution. That is a solution that ignores complexity, and takes us away from the root cause of such injustice. Having this mobile market will allow the Youth Farm to eventually expand our work towards food justice, through conversation, and connection with community leaders. It is our hope to re-envision and add to our year round program, providing youth with a an opportunity to focus on social justice, community organizing and activism during the winter months. Creating change takes time, which is why we continue to reflect and move forward.
This mobile market will be under construction this summer by a team of young women, led by Maria Klemperer-Johnson at Hammerstone Carpentry School for Women. The goal of working with Hammerstone is to empower myself and other young women, a demographic that is not often found in carpentry or construction. In the mean time I am busy creating designs, writing grants, and planning fund raisers.
I am filled with gratitude and hope. Times of transition are challenging for us all, but it is my wish that by reading this you will feel the same energy and excitement that I feel. Stay tuned, things are moving in wildly positive directions.
-Rayna Joyce (LACS Senior & YFP Crew Leader)
P.S. Check out our Get Involved section for more information on this project, and a registration form for the Hammerstone class!