Thursday, August 5, 2010

Teens Grow Food Program: Beyond the Halfway Point

Teens Grow Food discusses their front garden sign.

Here at the GreenSide Out Garden, our crew of three teens is weeding, planting, and harvesting, most for the first time ever. Over the past three weeks, we planted in almost all the fall crops, learned how to trellis tomatoes and transplant seedlings, discovered and treated various pests and diseases, weeded vigorously between the rows in the back garden, and harvested and delivered over 30 pounds of produce to the Food Pantry.

Weeding. From left to right: Marianna Ballou, Program Leader, and crew Pema Doma, Jamie Yu, and Dexter Jean.

In addition to our daily garden work, our value-added produce program teaches how to cook our local veggies affordably, healthily, and tastily. On one delivery day,we made couscous with summer squash and other vegetables, and on another, we cooked Egyptian-style lentils and rice with tomatoes, peppers, and beet greens from our garden. Then we delivered it to the food pantry along with our produce for the day and a recipe. Teens and food-pantry-goers have enjoyed the opportunity to learn about more ways to cook with various vegetables, both strange and familiar.

To put our work in perspective, we’re touring Brookline's edible gardens! So far, we have seen the 200-foot commuter garden, board member Heidi Krantz’s edible garden (we got to try a fresh peach, some blueberries, and all sorts of herbs and other veggies from her yard), and the High Street Veterans Community Garden. We also helped Green City Growers to prune and trellis tomatoes growing in fifteen kiddie pools on the b.good rooftop. Our non-field education includes workshops on the food system, compost, our own food cultures, and hunger and homelessness. Next week, we are visiting Allandale Farm and prepping the garden for future crews—and produce! It seems to have gone by so quickly. Next year, we hope to expand the program to allow for even more teen enrichment and learning.

Pema Doma waters tomatoes at b.good, Harvard Street a story below.