Grantee Blog 2020

The Push to Empower Youth through Entrepreneurship and Value Added Products

There is so much to be gained from gardening. From growing your own food and eliminating environmental toxins, to saving money and providing a relaxing activity while connecting with the earth. And really, who doesn’t love a homegrown juicy and sun-ripened jersey tomato?  The truth is, growing your own food can be a revolutionary act and one that is not afforded to everyone, especially today’s youth.  There are few opportunities for youth to meet and learn in-person and to gain new skills and exposure to potential career paths.

Next week, Montclair Community Farms, Essex County Schools of Technology, and Montclair Bread will launch an exciting 8 week program where high school students will learn hands-on about agriculture, culinary arts, and entrepreneurship from seed to sale. Students will be exposed to new ideas and careers in agriculture and culinary arts while gaining 21st century life and job skills. While it’s hard to believe with a foot of snow on the ground, we will start seeds for our spring and summer planting next week. This year, we will also use a new hydroponics system that will both increase the amount of food we can grow and extend our growing season. This year, we will grow lettuces, peas, and herbs in the hydroponics system to start and all of those foods will be used by the students to develop, produce, and market their own value added products including pesto and pizza. To showcase the skills that students have gained as a part of this program, they will sell their products in a pop-up market (stay tuned for more). 

During these trying times, there is nothing more important than being together through community and purpose. And since nothing brings us together more than food, we are thrilled to work with high school youth to gain new knowledge and skills to start their own home gardens, explore new career paths, and just have fun.

About the Grantee

Township of Montclair

Montclair Community Farm’s mission is to serve as a local hands-on resource that engages and educates the community through urban farming, affordable food access and healthy living. At the heart of Montclair Community Farms is its Coalition, partners, and community volunteers. The Montclair Health Department is a founding member of the Montclair Community Farms Coalition.