YO! Youth Organics
YO! is a garden project engaging and partnering with youth through skills training in sustainable agriculture and community organizing.
We provide leadership opportunities, a challenging environment in which to grow and a space for personal development, especially the improvement of health and nutrition.
Ultimately, we seek to create a just, local, sustainable community food system where everyone has access to safe, healthy foods, regardless of income, where farmers receive a fair price for the food they produce, and the land and the people are once again in relationship.
2013 Spring and Summer
Below are summer reports from past years of Youth Organics.
To sign up to volunteer for 2012 Spring Program contact Rana Morris rana@grandarts.
Spring and Summer 2011 Schedule
Spring Program: May 3 – June 10, Monday – Tuesday, & Thursday, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Summer Program: July 6 – August 11, Monday – Thursday, 8:30 AM – 12:30 PM
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (518) 495-5055.
2011 Mid Summer Report
Rana Morris, Youth Organics Director
In the middle of our third week of Youth Organics, we have a group of 17 teens working at the garden (South Hawk and Third Avenue) as well as visiting farms, and attending our weekly cooking classes at the governor’s mansion. We had a rocky start with our field and donated tiller but a good neighbor and friend to the garden fixed it for us and tilled the whole field!
We now have the whole garden planted and growing food for the community. The first tiny watermelon has emerged and is growing steadily in the field, along with other crops that are just as promising. We have been fortunate enough to have a successful and bountiful garlic, carrot, onion, beet, and herb harvest. The garlic has been braided and is drying, as well as the herbs that we have taken to the Harriet Tubman Democratic High School that have been bundled and hung to preserve for future use. Some of our vegetables are available for sale at the South End Farmers Market on Saturdays. Stop by and you might meet one of our hard working teens as well!
So far we have visited two successful farms; Wellington herbs and spices in Schoharie, NY and Duncan’s Dairy Farm in Troy, NY. On our trip to the Wellington’s farm, our teens learned to think about agriculture from a different standpoint and in terms of their future careers. Frederick Wellington told them about the science related to agricultural processes and ways they can be successful with a farm. They all enjoyed Mrs. Wellington’s shop and delicious Island tea and lemon thyme cookies. At Duncan’s Dairy Farm, the teens learned about milk production and how healthy cows are indeed happy cows. They learned how cows are milk and how one cow can produce about 8 gallons of milk in one day! Robert Duncan told the teens why it is important for the cows to keep a healthy grass and hay diet with only minor amounts of grain, and then gave us all a sample of their delicious and healthy milk to drink.
Cooking class has been educational and fun as well. Chef Noah and Tom let the teens experiment with the combinations of different vegetables along with teaching them how to safely slice onions and other vegetables we bring together from our garden and the governor’s mansion garden. All of the teens have taken turns cooking, chopping or seasoning the food we make and sometimes they take some home. This week we are looking forward to learning how to can and make our own pickles!
2010 Youth Organics Report
At the end of our third week of this session of Youth Organics, I am so appreciative that this group of people got to meet and work together this summer. We are ten teens and two adults of different backgrounds and interests who are growing food for our community. Each week we work the 3rd Avenue garden, take tours of and help out on local farms, and prepare and eat delicious, healthy meals together at the Governor’s Mansion. Our group has worked with the Capital District Permaculture Guild who are cleaning up and replanting a vacant lot around the corner from our garden. There, some very well-dressed teenagers really got their hands dirty picking up trash and hauling tree stumps out of the ground. We learned about nutrition and healthy eating with a trip to Price Chopper and the Honest Weight Food Co-op for a “food fact-finding mission.” I’m proud to say that this is the first time I’ve taken a group of teens to the Co-op where every one of them tried goat cheese, sheep cheese, and tofu!
The challenges we’ve had this year are mostly pest related. We started out the summer with a deer coming in and eating all our strawberries, chard, large portions of the tomato plants, and most of the beet greens. Yes, deer right there on 3rd Avenue! Organic repellent spray has worked okay so far, but we may need to do a fairly large-scale fencing project in the near future. Sadly, the other pest we are having trouble with is the vine borer. This is a black moth that lay eggs on the stems of zucchini and other squash plants which hatch into worms that dig into the stem and eat it from the inside out, killing the plant. In an organic garden, pest control is much more complicated than just spraying a poison on the plant and being done with it, but everything is a learning experience. This gives us opportunity to talk about the physiology of the plants as well as the life cycle of the borer, and a good topic on which to ask the advice of all the farmers we get to meet over the course of the program.
Even with these challenges, we are enjoying bountiful harvests of other crops including garlic, onions, greens, and a variety of fresh herbs, with many more on their way. Hopefully the teens that are tending to these crops will enjoy eating them as much as the community members who purchase them through our Garden Share and those who access our produce through the Trinity Institution Food Pantry.