Aldermere Farm, a program of Maine Coast Heritage Trust, will start a new work program for local youth ages 14 to 18. Aldermere will hire Teen Ag Crew members to grow crops and small livestock products for donation to local food pantries.

The group will be able to help decide what farm products to raise, and be responsible for managing a budget. Along the way, they will be taught the skills necessary to run a small sustainable farm. In addition to providing job skills and community service opportunities for local teens, the Teen Ag Crew program will also make contributions to pantries and the people who access them.

Like many food pantries, the Camden Area Christian Food Pantry lacks decent refrigeration or storage space for perishable items. This makes it difficult for the food pantry to distribute fresh, healthy products, said Pauline Johnstone, director of the Camden Area Christian Food Pantry. Johnstone said a program that delivers same-day produce would solve this problem and be “a wonderful asset” for CACFP and others like it.

“People love greens especially, and we just don’t have a steady supply,” Johnstone said.

Aldermere Farm is currently accepting applications from youth for the 2010 season.

“No previous farming experience is necessary, but applicants should have proven ability to work hard in an outdoor setting,” said Sarah Post, Aldermere programs manager. “Strong organizational skills and self-motivation are also preferred.”

The job will begin in late April. It will run two afternoons per week after school until the summer, then 40 hours per week in the summer. Additional after-school hours will be required in the fall.

Interested youth should contact Jed Beach, program assistant, at jbeach@mcht.org or 236-2739 for an application packet. The deadline for applying to the program is Wednesday, March 24.