Gar­den grows veg­eta­bles and young farm­ers

The Progress-Index Weekend - - OPINION -

The Peters­burg Gar­den Project on Beech Street is grow­ing into a suc­cess­ful pro­gram that has blos­somed into a provider of fresh veg­eta­bles and a path to grow re­spon­si­ble young adults.

Mike Jack­son, pres­i­dent of the Think Then Choose Wisely ur­ban farm in Peters­burg, and mem­bers of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s board of direc­tors, re­cently rec­og­nized six young males as the first grad­u­at­ing class of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Young Farmer pro­gram.

The Young Farmer pro­gram, said Jack­son, is a way to have young peo­ple use agri­cul­tural tasks to teach work habits, char­ac­ter build­ing skills, team­work, healthy liv­ing and en­trepreneur­ship.

Par­tic­i­pants cover the ba­sics of grow­ing pro­duce from seed to har­vest at the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Peters­burg Gar­den Project on Beech Street.

The gar­den- now in its sec­ond year at its cur­rent lo­ca­tion - is the TTCW flag­ship pro­gram that aims to serve the im­me­di­ate com­mu­nity by of­fer­ing its peo­ple ac­cess to lo­cally grown food while also ed­u­cat­ing them about nu­tri­tion, ac­cord­ing to the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s web­site. Over 700 chil­dren have taken part in the gardening pro­gram put on by Think Then Choose Wisely, in­clud­ing stu­dents from all lev­els of the Peters­burg pub­lic school sys­tem.

The young males not help with gar­den work but they also act as men­tors to the other chil­dren that help tend the gar­den. The young farm­ers were on hand ear­lier this sum­mer as a new crop of helpers started work on the gar­den

A group of about 29 chil­dren from Lit­tle An­gel Child Care Learn­ing Cen­ter in Peters­burg helped at the gar­den — lo­cated on 6 acres of land next to JEB Stu­art Ele­men­tary School. The chil­dren, rang­ing in age from 4 to 11 years old, helped to har­vest pro­duce and even­tu­ally planted new crops.

Ear­lier this spring, stu­dents from J.E.B Stu­art Ele­men­tary School helped plant crops at the ur­ban gar­den near the school on Beech Road.

When school was out for the sum­mer, the non­profit group needed a new set of helpers. The chil­dren from the Lit­tle An­gel Child Care Learn­ing Cen­ter and group of about 40 chil­dren from Trin­ity Mis­sion­ary Bap­tist Church Day­care be­came the sum­mer helpers..

And help­ing over­see all the lit­tle helpers was a group of young males who are now the first crop to grad­u­ate from the Young Farm­ers pro­gram.

“It means so much to me be­cause I watched them closely and watched them work­ing to­gether,” said Jack­son, of his time shep­herd­ing the youth through the lat­est grow­ing sea­son. “I did not have one prob­lem. It was amaz­ing to me, they were on-time ev­ery day.”

The young farm­ers were treated to a cel­e­bra­tion lunch at Old Towne’s Alibi and pre­sented with crys­tal plaques of ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to the young farm­ers and a pro­gram that is grow­ing not only veg­eta­bles but char­ac­ter and re­spon­si­bil­ity in young adults.

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