ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Farms aren't just out in the country anymore. Urban farms like the St. Pete Youth Farm are popping up in cities all over the country.
The St. Pete Youth Farm is a not only a place where young people learn the importance of how to grow food but it’s also a place where they develop important life skills.
"This initiative all started back in 2017," explained the farm’s Carla Bristol. "They had something happen in the community that was somewhat unique. We had two grocery stores in a period of four years close. When that happened, a lot of different people came together, started talking about how do we address this critical need within the community for access to fresh fruits and vegetables."
When the initially program started, it was designed to be a youth driven-initiative led by young people that would teach them about food and nutrition.
"Over time, what we discovered for most of our young people, it’s the communication skills, it’s the leadership skills, the character development, learning about their own history and the ability to discover healthy nutrition as well," Bristol continued.
When the youth meet weekly on the farm, they learn and practice a variety of things that include the obvious, like planting and harvesting, as well as culinary and nutritional skills. But they also learn entrepreneurship, communication, teamwork, leadership, character development, artistic self-expression, and the chance to explore a different career path.
"As we know, disparities are more pressing in our community, meaning communities of color, so you can continue to try to treat the symptoms or we can go straight to the root of the cause," Bristol offered. "We know the root cause already; we’ve known for generations. It’s all about the food, the quality of food, but it’s not just the quality of food, it’s having access to the right foods. So creating something like this in the middle of the community that can allow folks to have access to it at places that they can afford is a game changer."
LINK: For more information on the St. Pete Youth Farm, visit www.Stpeteyouthfarm.org