Trenashia, age 15, experienced her first job this summer at VINES alongside 13 other young people ages 15-19 at VINES with a goal to grow thousands of pounds of food for the community through farming on formerly vacant urban lots. Trenashia explains “When I first came to the farm I felt like I did not know how to do anything. I was really nervous that I would mess up but, I continued to learn and soon I became an expert at things.” Recently re-named as Grow Binghamton, this summer youth employment opportunity challenges youth to build confidence, gain leadership experience, reconnect with their food, and educate the community about how to eat and grow healthy foods- all while receiving a paycheck.
This year the teens grew produce for donations to CHOW and families receiving Farm Shares, learned about cooking, taught nutrition to elementary school children, led tours of the urban farm, and visited local farms. Kylie, 17, reflects “I was not only able to help my community while at work, but I could also bring skills and knowledge I learned each day home to families in my own neighborhood” demonstrating the impact Grow Binghamton has on youth’s lives, families, and communities.