Chicago Youth Programs






Our youth learn all aspects of organic vegetable garden maintenance, from making compost, vermi-composting, to weeding and watering, plant identification, pest management without the use of chemicals and community owned and operated food systems. Using farming as a hands-on teaching tool, young people are challenged both mentally and physically, gaining a broad range of experiences from observation and decision-making to physical fitness and tool usage to aesthetic and culinary appreciation.  In addition, youth farm apprentices gain the valuable and unique skill of learning how to produce something, creating a whole host of entrepreneurial opportunities.  

Growing Power offers a unique opportunity for families and youth to learn about where their food comes from and how to build a community food system, from the earth up. By connecting youth to food production and cultivation, they will experience life on the farm via hands-on learning in farm maintenance, organic production methods, harvesting and marketing. Youth gain experience in keeping basic farm records, educating and mentoring others, journal writing, creating garden related art, and harvesting and preparing food. Urban farm apprentices work together to cultivate, weed, plant and harvest vegetables; fruit; herbs and flowers that are grown in the allotment gardens and may have the opportunity to work South Shore Cultural Centers’ weekly farmers market.

A major focus of our youth programs is to enable effective job/higher education preparedness for young people. Also integral to Growing Power’s youth program, life skills acquisition in the form of work ethic and appropriate work place socialization, follow through on instructions, application of academic readings and discussions throughout the project and consumer education.

Using farming as a hands-on teaching tool, young people are challenged both mentally and physically, gaining a broad range of experiences from observation and decision-making to physical fitness and tool usage to aesthetic and culinary appreciation.  In addition, youth gain the valuable and unique skill of learning how to produce something, creating a whole host of entrepreneurial opportunities for their futures. 

Resources such as an urban agriculture farm stand, extended season production green houses, aquaponics, vermiculture and organic soil, compost and other safe soil inputs will provide a one-stop urban agriculture experience for community residents, project partners and visitors to Chicago.

Summer and After-School Job-Training

 

In 2010, the Chicago Progects Office, in partnership with After School Matters and the Chicago Housing Authority, employeed 140 during the summer months, 25 hours-per-week at our urban farms in Grant Park, Altgeld Gardens, Jackson Park, Iron Street, and the Chicago Lights Urban Farm. During the school year in 2011, we are providing job-training for 80 teens after-school.

 

Check out how our Youth Corps composts.  Click here to see our video.

 

We also have a step team video.  Our step team is just one way we integrate food and fitness into our curriculum.  Let the beets beat on!

 

Youth Programs at the Chicago Lights Urban Farm 

 

The garden at Cabrini-Green continues to flourish with the help of the gardeners, neighborhood children, multiple volunteers, and Growing Power staff.  The garden has seen many additions over the summer months – a new “texture” garden, a youth pizza and salad garden, a large jump in the number of gardeners sharing plots, a new youth curriculum, and many new neighborhood children visiting and planting in the garden.  Additionally, the garden added a production component to help Fourth Presbyterian Church’s anti-hunger program.  This includes adding fresh produce to weekly food bags going to residents in the Cabrini-Green neighborhood and church suppers feeding low-income residents throughout Chicago. 

 

Growing Power staff created a new “curriculum” at the garden for neighborhood children.  The new curriculum is an activities-based curriculum that follows a weekly theme such as magical seeds, wiggly worms, weather, and pollinators.  Children played vegetable Sudoku, learned math by racing bugs, and saw Black-Swallow caterpillars forming cocoons.  This new curriculum reflects the drop-in nature of the Cabrini program and gives kids fun, educational activities that accommodate the child’s inclination.  It also gives the children opportunities to engage in a garden related activity on days when it is raining or far too hot to work in the garden.   During the season, well over 150 children attended an activity or event at the garden.  The average daily attendance at the garden was 12 youth aged 5 to 11 years.

 

  The Chicago Avenue Garden continues to be a model for food security and urban agriculture.  The garden has hosted multiple tours, such as Heifer Project International, farmers from Michigan and London, and the Home and Garden Magazine Tour.  This is important for the Cabrini-Green neighborhood as buildings in the neighborhood are demolished and as turf-wars between gangs increase due to diminishing “territory.”   The garden continues to offer a safe space for children to play and thrive in this changing neighborhood.

 

 

Milwaukee Headquarters:  5500 W. Silver Spring Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53218

Tel. 414.527.1546 / Fax 414.527.1908

Chicago Projects Office: 3333 S. Iron Street, Chicago, IL 60608

Tel. 773.376.8882