We want to thank all the Food Works youth, staff, interns, donors, funders, partners and advocates who have poured passion and hard work into this program for the past 18 years. We have seen a youth vision for food access, leadership development, and economic resilience evolve, thrive and now - shift. Over the past couple of years, our capacity to support Food Works at its fullest potential has diminished. We have worked creatively to scale back, and rethink the program and have come to realize that we need to close this chapter of our work. With deep appreciation and bittersweet reflection, we say goodbye to the Food Works program.
This summer was the final season of Food Works and we want to thank the leadership of Lupita, Ev and Sophia during this time of change and uncertainty. Building on a legacy of youth who selected the Sauvie Island farm site and have been leading the work there since 2006, 10 AYP youth planned and planted the farm and Lupita, Ev and Sophia cared for it over the summer season. We will wrap up the work of this season in early October and moving forward, Village Gardens Community Leaders and staff will be inviting new partners to determine the future of the farm. As we create this path forward we would love to hear from you. Donated by Metro, the Sauvie Island farm site is an incredible resource that we have been sharing with dedicated community farmers and partners. This season, Happiness Family Farms has been growing amazing produce on 1 acre of our Sauvie Island farm. We are excited to continue to partner with new growers on this site. The Food Works learning curriculum is an incredible resource that we will continue to lean on and share, please reach out if you have questions and ideas about how to engage with it.
Though we will work with youth each summer through the Summer Works program, we are not sure what that work will look like as the seasons pass. We do know that we are committed to growing opportunities for authentic and invested leadership for both youth and adult neighbors. We will keep you posted and hope you stay in touch.
Growing the Farm
Youth develop skills in sustainable agriculture by being engaged in all aspects of planning, planting, harvesting organic vegetables at the Seeds of Harmony community garden.
Growing the Self
Food Works' youth learn key job skills such as respectful direct communication, time management, accountability and conflict resolution. Each youth sets personal goals for school and work and identifies their steps to success. Leadership development and enrichment opportunities are also an important part of the Food Works experience. In addition to participating actively in all aspects of program decision making, youth regularly present at professional conferences both locally and nationally.
Growing the Community
The Food Works youth are increasingly seen as ambassadors of health in the neighborhoods. Nutrition education is integrated into the Food Works' program and youth learn how to prepare and preserve vegetables from their farm and share healthy recipes with their customers and neighbors.
Growing the Business
Through selling their vegetables at Village Market in New Columbia, the youth build a wide variety of marketable skills such as customer service, cashiering, retail display, planning, marketing and teamwork. The proceeds from sales are rolled back into strengthening the program.