By Rosie C., 2021 Youth Leader in Ag (Summer Youth Staff), Fort Defiance High School ’22

Growing plants has always been an interest of mine since I started keeping a small backyard garden with my mom when I was younger. I heard about Project GROWS by attending a homeschool field trip in 2017 and am very thankful to have returned as a Summer Youth Staff member in 2021.

I have loved working on the farm because of the sustainable values, kindhearted community, and hands-on learning. Through Project GROWS, I’ve increased my farming abilities and made friends too! I’m proud to say that I worked hard this summer.

Amazing guest speakers and the complexity of the food system surprised me. The Summer Youth Staff got to hear experienced adults teach about bees, insects, animals, soul health, and birds. We discussed long-standing issues in the U.S. food systems such as racism and pesticides and how we can ease the impact of those through permaculture values. 

Of course, the bulk of our time was spent practicing tangible skills like weeding (lots of weeding), planting, harvesting, flipping beds, and pest control. I learned to monitor and increase my water intake. I also learned to bring layers, a hat, sunscreen, and to sleep well. 

After high school, I plan to continue learning about plants, either independently or in school. In my AP (Advanced Placement) Drawing and Design class fall and spring, I’m going to make a portfolio of landscape designs using knowledge I collected from the farm. Spending so much time with plants the last two months has spiked my interest in gardening in general. As an artist, I’m passionate about creating and enjoying beauty; flowers and plants are a natural way to do so and my AP project will allow me to combine this natural beauty with artistic expression.