Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Talking with the Teens of Teens Grow Food

Weeding at HSVCG (photo by JD Hutchison-Maxwell)

The Bountiful Brookline youth program Teens Grow Food is in high gear as the produce in our gardens ripens.  We recently talked with four TGF participants, all students at Brookline High School: Oscar, Josh, and twin brothers Ricardo and Stefano.  The twins grew corn, beans and other vegetables in Haiti; however, while Oscar's mother grew up on a farm and can relate to his summer experience, he and Josh are new to growing food.

TGF has worked this summer in Bountiful Brookline's two demonstration gardens, Greenside Out Garden at the Brookline Community Foundation and Goodwin Garden in the back yard of the Lockwood Family on Goodwin Place, and in community gardens at Brookline Housing Authority sites including High Street Veterans Community Garden and Sussman House elderly and disabled housing.

Stefano enjoyed sampling new kinds of food like blueberries and purple beans. Oscar's favorite part of the program was observing nature and seeing how things are, away from the distractions of TV.  For Josh, the hard work was a good workout, one with a purpose and many rewards: helping people to have better food grown without chemicals, spending time with his TGF crew mates, and overcoming his fear of squishing bugs by "thinking about what the bugs would do to the plants."

Hunting for squash borers at Goodwin Garden
Yes, bugs.  Oscar gave a concise description of how to hunt and remove squash borers (using the method taught by BB garden coordinator, Jenny LaVigne): Since the borers get inside the plant, they had to cut open the stems, pick out the larvae and kill them.  The teens also encountered caterpillars in the greens that seemed very much like the leaf miners that got into the spinach during the late spring.

Squash borer revealed (photo by JD Hutchison-Maxwell)
But it wasn't all bugs. Ricardo pointed out that they also worked on construction of raised beds. Under the direction of BB intern JD Hutchison-Maxwell, the teens learned how to water the gardens correctly - close to the ground; and harvested, weighed, recorded and delivered fresh produce from the gardens for delivery to the food pantry at St. Paul's Church. To raise money for Bountiful Brookline programs, this year some of the produce  is being delivered to Lineage in return for a donation.  Look for Bountiful Brookline on the Lineage menu!

Despite the bugs and some hot humid days in the sun, all four said they would definitely do it again.

Josh's pet earthworm (photo by JD Hutchison-Maxwell
Another raised bed under construction at Sussman House

Bountiful Brookline at Lineage

JD is pleased with a job well done