The Racine Dominican Eco-Justice Center is dedicated to environmental education and care of Earth in the context of Community, Contemplation, Creativity and Cultivation. Since 2004, the Center has promoted these values in a variety of innovative ways.
As we strive to serve as a catalyst for regional transformation, we recognize that food is one area of need: eight percent of Racine County (mostly within the city of Racine) is considered a food desert, which means residents have inadequate access to affordable fresh food. We know that what we eat and where it comes from has profound ramifications. The Racine Area Youth Farm Corps addresses these issues of food justice, hunger, and sustainability in our community.
Modeled after the successful Prairie Farm Corps in Grayslake, IL, Racine Area Youth Farm Corps employs four high school students to work on the farm for 11 weeks in the summer. A college intern serves as a crew leader and mentor. The Farm Corps students learn the growing process from seed to harvest. Once the produce is out of the field, they prepare and market the organic produce. During the harvest season the students will also prepare their own lunch time meals using the food they grow.
The Eco-Justice Center provides a unique setting to interact with animals on the farm who play a role in our food systems, such as the Center's chickens and bees. In addition, our summer camps (serving children ages 6–14) run concurrently with the Farm Corps program, allowing the Farm Corps students to demonstrate leadership and teach the younger children about organic farming practices. We feel that young people teaching other young people sends a powerful message to all of our participants.
Farm Corps produce is made available in areas deemed to be food deserts and the students will offer cooking demonstrations at local community centers. As the students learn valuable leadership, social, and job skills they will in turn help educate the community about organic farming, sustainability, and equity in our food system.