Who we are
We all come from different backgrounds, cultures, neighborhoods and schools. Our ages range from 14-21 years old and our ethnic backgrounds range from hispanic, african-american, african, and caucasion. Most of us were born in the United States, others weren’t, but the one thing we all have in common is that we all share enjoyment in farming together. We are a group that likes to have fun, but still gets the work done. We always learn new things from each other. Being around diverse people helps us to understand other ways of thinking and working. We are organic farmers! Our group allows us to learn from our farm and community and from each other. The program is ran by youth we make all the decisions. Over the past two years we have really grown our program, we have increased our farm from 1.25 acres to 2.25 acres. We have increased our community involvement and increased our business. Our goal is to educate adults and especially the youth about how food works. Which is the reason why Food Works hires 44 youth per year usually depending on the season. We are an outgoing helpful group. We volunteer at places such as Oregon Food Bank, Blanchet House and also donate our vegetables to them. We gave 2,500 pounds of produce out in our community Food Pass Out. We are Food Works! Written by: Prudence Eca & Destiny Giles, Food Works Crew Leaders 2012
Food Works is About Growing
- Growing the Farm: Youth develop skills in sustainable agriculture and land management by being engaged in all aspects of planning, planting, harvesting and caring for a one-acre certified organic farm on Sauvie Island. Adult staff partner with the youth to operate a productive farm operation which produced over 10,000 of certified organic vegetables in 2009.
- Growing the Business: Through operating their own farm business selling their vegetables at two farmers markets, to New Seasons Market, and soon to the new Village Market in New Columbia, the young people build a wide variety of marketable skills such as customer service, cashiering, retail display, planning, marketing and teamwork. The proceeds from the farm are rolled back into strengthening the program.
- Growing the Community: The Food Works youth are increasingly seen as ambassadors of health in the neighborhoods, and with good cause. Each week throughout the harvest season the Food Works team set up two free farmers market stands in their neighborhoods from which they donated over 5,000 pounds of certified organic produce directly to 750 of their neighbors in 2009 alone. The Food Works youth also serve as role models to the 6-13 year old children who participate in children’s educational gardening clubs that Village Gardens also operates in the communities.
- Growing the Self: Food Works youth learn key job skills such as respectful direct communication, time management, accountability and conflict resolution. Each youth sets personal goals for school and work and identifies their steps to success. Nutrition education is integrated into the Food Works program as well. Youth learn how to prepare and preserve vegetables from their farm and share healthy recipes with their customers and neighbors. Leadership development and enrichment opportunities are also an important part of the Food Works experience. In addition to participating actively in all aspects of program decision making, youth regularly present at professional conferences both locally and nationally.