Looking Forward, Looking Back
Hope, with a strong measure of hard work.
This morning the farm was covered with ice crystals, the summer's dry stalks of burdock and grasses shimmering. As the Sun rose higher and warmer, everything sparkled. We know that nature is healing and grounding, and we are thankful for the time on this land.
'At the Youth Farm Project we look at the farmland as the heart of our life changing programs. It is a real ‘reap what you sow’ situation in more than one respect, but one we take great care in tending and cultivating. While we primarily grow annual vegetables on a scale similar to that of an active vegetable farm, it gives us unique opportunities for education and job skills training. We feel that the success of our programs stems from the fact that the experiences we provide are relevant, offers the opportunity to form deep relationships, and is rigorous enough where one can tap into undiscovered inner strength. We are excited to look to the future and forming a farm plan that includes more perennials like fruit trees, berry bushes, perennial herbs and flowers, animals, bees, and someday, a year round facility where we can cook, learn, and be together in all times of the year.'
- Ann Piombino, Lead Farmer and Educator
In 2018 we started adding some exciting new elements to our farm-scape including raising baby lambs for one of our partnering farms, Black Pearl Creamery, and designing and installing a perennial herb garden. The lambs created a whole new experience, one that we have been looking forward to, for youth to interact with animals. We were able to watch the lambs grow, take responsibility for their chores, and learn a whole new set of skills around accountability as well as an endless supply of cuddles, laughs, and antics. The perennial herb garden has also added a dimension of depth and beauty to the farm this year and has supplied us with endless possibilities; teas to enjoy during our programs and share with our guests, flavor for our meals, a forage spot for pollinators, an herbal medicine chest, and a place to explore our senses.
Here's one account from a teen from our 2018 Summer Program:
“I personally have amazing experiences from the two summers I have worked on this farm. I have learned so much and not just about farming, but communication, tenacity, and leadership too. Ann, the farm manager, and all the other amazing people that work at the farm, have helped me grow as a person. Meeting new teens from around Ithaca is always interesting from the diversity of backgrounds from which the kids come. I have made two very good friends through working here who I likely never would have met otherwise, as well as a whole host of other people who I now know through the farm. I owe the Youth Farm and everyone who works so tirelessly every year to make it function, all the praise in the world for what they have done for my life, for making the Youth Farm Project a place where I feel at home.”
We welcomed Christa as the Fresh Snack Manager in September 2018.
We are lucky to have her - and if you are connected with a child in the Ithaca City School District, YOU ARE TOO! She is a fierce and caring advocate for children, for health, and for community, and she is making sure kids eat fresh, healthy food during their school day. Christa's bio--->
In Fall 2018 we served 3,364 snacks PER WEEK in local elementary schools! Due to a newly funded Tompkins County School Food Project, we are looking forwards to expanding the Fresh Snack program to more Tompkins County schools in 2019. Read more here-->