Garden Army teaches healthy choicesYouthlinks starts pilot program
Rockland — School Garden Army celebrated its summer harvest with its final farm stand Aug. 20 at Youthlinks in Rockland.
Earlier this summer, Youthlinks had received the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation Grant to pilot the youth agriculture program.
The Garden Army has had a busy and productive summer. In addition to managing the Youthlinks/Oceanside High School East garden and farm stand, the six student members have learned about local agriculture at Hatchet Cove Farm, Beau Chemin Preservation Farm, and Maine Farmland Trust.
According to Seth Walton, Community Programs Director with Youthlinks, the local teens were chosen to be part of the eight-week pilot program which provided a work-based learning opportunity in a structured environment.
"They had to apply and interview for the program," said Walton. Each participant received a $500 stipend for their participation.
The team learned financial management and business skills from operating the onsite farm stand on Broadway, and cultivated valuable skills — such as leadership, teamwork, planning, and follow-through — to prepare them to be successful in the workforce.
They also learned about marketing local foods and healthy shopping strategies at the Good Tern Co-op, the Belfast Co-op, Chase's Daily, Beth's Farm Stand, and Hannaford.
The students learned about nutrition, healthy cooking, and preparing the harvest with Good Corps member Genna Cherichello and macrobiotic nutrition coach Rita Haas. They also joined forces with the Teen Ag Crews for joint work days at Medomak Valley High School's Heritage Seed Project and Aldermere Farm's Ericson Fields.
Their end of season wrap up included the sale of the harvest including squash, beans, tomatoes, kale and fresh flowers. The students also conducted tours of their greenhouses and gardens.
"We hope to increase the program next year," said Walton.
Courier Publication reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
594-4401 ext. 125
Beth rejoined Courier Publications' news staff in February 2013. She previously worked at The Courier-Gazette from 1981 to 1990.
Her coverage area includes Warren, Union, Friendship, Waldoboro, Washington, and Thomaston and RSU40.
Beth has a passion for photography, and a degree from the University of Maine at Augusta, in affiliation with the Maine Photographic Workshop in Rockport.
Aside from photography, Beth enjoys running and walks along the waterfront, as well as other outdoor activities. She has a daughter, Claire, who is 13.
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