Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Student Farm Provides Unique Classroom for Learning

If you can capture a young person's attention and interest, you can inspire him/her to learn. That's the concept behind a new Youth Farm located in Washington County. Using 1/2 acre of land donated by the Tigard Tualatin School District and funding from Worksystems and others, students from the Oregon Human Development Commission's (OHDC) YouthSource Program transformed a vacant, unused piece of property overgrown with weeds and blackberry bushes to a vibrant, productive farm.

After installing several raised beds and getting their first crops in the ground, a speaker from the BizConnect program came in to teach the students about farming practices, complimentary plantings, soil mixtures, organic processes and the science of gardening. I'll bet you can't guess what happened next. The students asked for more information and requested a more rigorous curriculum in science and math to further their education and help them to improve their farm. What?!?

Their first summer growing season was a complete success and they sold enough of their crops at the Tualatin Farmers Market to help raise funds to sustain the program. They are already saving seeds for next year, building cold frames, and working on getting fall crops in.

This project has "produced" many great things (sorry, I couldn't resist). Area nurseries such as Farmington Gardens and Simington Gardens are engaging with the students and providing internships, a new 4-week urban farming and nutrition class is being taught throughout the school district, and a cooking class using vegetables from the farm has been planned for later this month.

But most importantly, the students are inspired and excited about learning. As they like to say "50 teens, 1/2 acre of land, 12 months of awesome." I couldn't have said it better.

They say that anyone is welcome to stop by and help pull weeds...

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