How Does a 10-acre farm improve the health of local youth?
At Project GROWS, it’s not just good healthy food that we’re trying to bring into the schools, but it’s access to the cultural knowledge that is farming. Even in a rich agricultural area like our own, lots of folks and lots of kids feel ten degrees of separation to the food that ends up on their plates. The farm, however, provides a space for us all to learn about the natural world below our feet and in the air around us, and more importantly, to appreciate the connection between the natural world and our everyday lives.
It’s a beautiful thing when a second grader says she learned there is such a thing as an industrial food system and a local food system or that buying tomatoes from the farmers market gives more money back to local farmers. And indeed it’s a beautiful thing when kids shout, “I didn’t know I liked chard!” or when a whole row of kids assume the farmer squat, each plucks a radish straight out of the ground below their feet, and lifts it triumphantly into the air before joining in unison to munch right in. These are the kinds of experiences and learning opportunities that a ten-acre farm provides.
The addition of a barn to the farm will do all the things you might suppose it would — allow for proper storage of equipment, streamline harvest and pack-out procedures, provide office space for staff to do all the behind the scenes work that keeps us growing — but it also gives a space to show kids what farming looks like beyond planting a seed and watching it grow. Too often, farming is underappreciated – regarded as laborious, maligned with its counterpart in drudgery – cooking. But when kids come to their farm, they get to experience the value in what we do: learning how to grow food, how to manage land responsibly and sustainably, and how to prepare good fresh food — to me, these are among the most empowering gifts that Project GROWS offers students and the extra facilities that a barn will provide will help advance these aims all the more!
We’ve seen the ways that our work directly impacts youth, and we invite you to join with us! If you would like to support us consider pledging to our Barn-Raising Campaign today!
Clara Metzler, Assistant Farm Manager