LYNN — Seventy-two teenagers are learning about farming, sustainable food systems, personal development and serving at hunger relief organizations in a 6½ week summer exploration sponsored by The Food Project.
The Food Project hires teens each summer from diverse cultural, racial, economic, and geographic backgrounds to work on their urban and suburban farms in Lynn, Lincoln, Boston, Beverly, Wenham, designating the students workers as Seed Crew participants. During the season, youth work together to grow vegetables and distribute 200,000 pounds of produce.
The food goes to hunger relief organizations, food assistance-accessible farmers markets, corner stores, and other food access partnerships.
“Seed Crew is so much more than a great summer job,’” said James Harrison, Food Project executive director. “A summer working in Seed Crew combines learning about sustainable agriculture and how race and inequality impact the food system. Young people thrive in the diverse atmosphere on the farms and grow as people after a summer with The Food Project.”
After working on the farm each morning, Seed Crew youth spend most afternoons in workshops that address issues such as sustainable agriculture, food access, social justice, and more. They also spend one day a week at hunger relief organizations preparing and serving the produce they have grown. This connects the work the young people are doing on the farms with the lessons that they’re learning about food security. In this way, they are able to see how their work directly impacts people’s lives.
Seed Crew is the entry point to participate in The Food Project’s youth crews. Following Seed Crew, young people may apply to work each academic season throughout their high school careers.
Seed Crew is more than a summer job. It is a transformational experience for the young people who spend their summer with The Food Project. In the 26 years since The Food Project was founded, more than 1,700 young people have gone through their youth crews. The teens who participate in Seed Crew, Dirt Crew, and Root Crew become agents of change in their communities around food and social justice.
Many have gone on to start organizations based on The Food Project’s model in other parts of the country, started their own urban or suburban farms built on sustainable agricultural practices, or have founded businesses that are committed to social justice.
Since its founding in 1991, The Food Project has grown into a nationally-recognized non-profit organization that brings youth and adults from diverse backgrounds together on their farms to produce healthy food for residents of the city and suburbs to build a local and sustainable food system.