Last summer, the Eco-Justice Center launched an exciting “Racine Area Farm Corps” pilot program based on a successful program at Prairie Crossing Learning Farm in Grayslake, Illinois. For the 2017 season we will again hire high school students, who through this summer job, will learn organic farm practices and enhance their life, leadership, and job skills. One part-time crew leader will serve as a mentor for the students. Working as a team, students will learn farm skills such as preparing soil, planting and transplanting, mulching, weeding, and harvesting. In addition these students will also learn about sustainability, cooking, job skills, and social skills as they engage in hands-on learning. Participants will be paid. A pre and post evaluation will be given at the beginning and end of the summer’s program to assess knowledge and skills acquired through participation in Farm Corps.
In addition to work on the farm and in the kitchen, Farm Corps students will have the opportunity to sell produce at local Farmers’ Markets and prepare vegetables for delivery to food pantries. Eight percent of Racine County is labeled a food desert, and most of that is in the city of Racine. When delivering and selling food, the students will utilize these connections with the public to educate others about organic farming and healthy food.
During four of the weeks that the Farm Corps is working in the gardens, the Center will also be conducting day camps for youth ages 6-14 years, providing an opportunity for Farm Corps students to share information about organic gardening, demonstrate leadership, and practice social skills with these 115 younger children and other visitors that come to the Center. The students will also offer cooking demonstrations at local community centers to encourage cooking with more fruits and vegetables.
With this program we will educate not only Farm Corps students, but the entire Racine community. We know that after participating in Farm Corps the young adults will have a closer connection with their food and the Earth and have the skills to excel in any job, especially one in science or agriculture.
We are extremely grateful for the support of Racine Area Youth Farm Corps from the following funders:
- Buhler Family Foundation
- Racine Community Foundation
- SC Johnson
- UNFI Foundation
- Sinsinawa Dominicans, Inc.
The Racine Area Youth Farm Corps is based on the Prairie Farm Corps program in Grayslake, Illinois. Much guidance and tangible assistance has been provided to the Eco-Justice Center for the purpose of designing our program. In particular, we'd like to thank Eric Carlberg, Director and Educator, and Shannon McBride, Amanda Eynatten, and Natalie Absil, who serve as the Production Specialists and Farm Educators for Prairie Farm Corps.
If you would like to contribute financially to this new pilot program, please enter your tax deductible donation amount below and click Continue to be directed to PayPal for secure completion of your contribution. Together we can equip the next generation of local organic farmers!