As we’ve noted numerous times before, gardening creates benefits well beyond fresh, hyperlocal food. It can provide fruits and vegetables to neighborhoods with limited access to them. It can offer opportunities for physical activity to people who aren’t interested in jogging. And, of course, it can serve as an educational activity. So, when I come across an organization like New Orleans’ Grow Dat Youth Farm, I’ve got to write about it, as this urban agriculture project combines all of these purposes into an opportunity for high school-aged kids – many at risk of failing at school and falling into lives of crime – to develop leadership and occupational skills in a communal setting.
The kids who participate in this program not only get meaningful, paid work experience, but also chances to learn about agriculture, cooking, and business. Some graduates can even come back to work with the current crop of recruits. No doubt, it’s a life-changing experience for many of them. Take a look/listen to the video Grow Dat released in 2011 to get a full sense of how this opportunity affects these kids:
Unfortunately, I didn’t find this early enough for the 2014 recruitment season, but if you’re in New Orleans, and have a teenager that attends one of the schools served by this program, might want to start thinking about it for next year.
Had a student participate in Grow Dat, or a similar program elsewhere? Share your experience with us…