New Teen Gardening Program Launched

This summer CCS held its first Seed to Feed Teen Growers Internship. The six-week internship has allowed 9 Elkhart teens the opportunity to practice gardening and job skills like leadership, teamwork, responsibility, and communication in safe outdoor learning environments.

Every week the teens have worked in the Seed to Feed garden and greenhouse to help harvest produce for pantry guests. The teens have participated in educational sessions with Purdue Extension in which they learned about the importance of healthy eating and lifestyle choices. Teens had the opportunity to cook and sample food using produce they helped harvest. In addition, teens went on a variety of field trips. They visited Unity Gardens, the Elkhart Environmental Center and Wellfield Botanic Gardens. At Sherck Seeds they learned about growing and harvesting heirloom varieties of staple crops like wheat, corn, peanuts, and rice. Every week they visit Red Oak Farm where they learn about planting and growing food in an urban backyard setting. At Red Oak they've also learned about pickling and food preservation. At Merry Lea Environmental Center, the interns learned about habitats native to Indiana, like wetlands and prairies and how plant diversity contributes to a healthy ecosystem and more successful food production. At Bullard Farm, Kurt Bullard talked to the youth about his sweet corn farm. The interns also helped out in the Bullard Farm greenhouse and planted seeds for a fall Seed to Feed garden.

The teens have really enjoyed the program. One intern shared that she wanted to be in the internship as a sort of tribute to her grandmother who used to garden and another said he wanted to make new friends while learning new skills. They are learning a lot and will take these job and gardening skills wherever they go in life.

Hayley Tessier