It’s hard to believe my 8 weeks in Seattle have gone by so quickly. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Tilth Alliance Youth Garden Works, and before this experience, would have never expected to spend an entire summer working on a farm. But, here I am writing this blog post – sunburnt, bruised, and (still?) covered in dirt.
Tilth Alliance Youth Garden Works is a youth empowerment program that offers youth ages 16-21 with an employment experience in urban agriculture. TAYGW hires those who face greater than average barriers to employment, which might include food scarcity, housing instability, or involvement with the juvenile justice system. In the end, people from diverse backgrounds come together to grow food, which is sold at the University District Farmer’s Market every Saturday. Through this work, these youth develop leadership skills and personal connections to the food system.
Something that I admire about TAYGW is that there is a high emphasis on youth empowerment. The crew not only learns organic farming techniques such as bed-building, composting, and transplanting, but also participates in well-rounded curriculum focused on self-development. This program includes lessons in cooking and nutrition, goal setting, and peer-to-peer feedback.
This summer, I am heavily involved in the cooking and nutrition program. I split my week between working on the farm for three days and at the office for two. Every Monday, I source ingredients to use in meal preparation. Our budget is small (we aim for $1 per meal), so I coordinate with Courtney and Clara, the nutrition and cooking educators, to include both the produce grown on the farm and purchased ingredients at local grocery stores and markets. At the farm, I balance my time with assisting in the cooking and nutrition program and farm work. I assist nutrition and culinary educators in implementing weekly nutrition lessons that incorporate the ingredients used in meals. We have a different nutrition concept every week, some of which include mindful eating, plant proteins and probiotics. Everyday before lunch we circle up and talk about what we made, the nutritional concepts we learned, and what we are grateful for. Right now, I am developing a cookbook to distribute to the crew at the end of the summer. Courtney, who is studying to become a dietician, is providing me with nutritional tips to include with the balanced recipes throughout the book. Every Friday, I support in harvest, in which the produce goes to market.
Above: Flowers we harvested that are ready to be made into bouquets!
Overall, I have been touched by how readily TAYGW accepted me as a part of their farm. I have formed meaningful relationships with individuals I would of have not otherwise met if not for this organization. Working alongside people with different perspectives has enabled me to reap the benefits of ‘youth empowerment’ as well. I am truly going to miss working at the farm.