Growing Sustainable Food and Youth Leaders in Boston
May 6, 2009 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Rutabega, carrots, and lettuce are sprouting from the freshly tilled soil of several urban lots in Boston. Since 1991, the goal of the Food Project has been to build a national model of engaging young people in personal and social change through sustainable agriculture.
The Food Project’s mission, as they describe it, is to grow a thoughtful and productive community of youth and adults from diverse backgrounds working together to produce healthy food for city and suburban residents. They aim to inspire and support others to create change in their own communities while at the same time providing young people with leadership opportunities.
Nearly half of the Food Project’s work is as a resource center for organizations and individuals worldwide. Through the project’s materials, youth training, and professional development opportunities, they seek to share their unique expertise for the building of other inspired, diverse, and productive youth communities.
In Boston, they grow on three plots of land in the Dudley neighborhood and also manage a 6000 square foot rooftop production garden at The Boston Medical Center.
Operation of these sites is made possible through continuing partnerships with the City of Boston, the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI), community residents, and the Boston Area Health Education Center (BAHEC).
Through their urban educational and outreach programs, they remediate lead-contaminated gardens and mentor backyard gardeners in providing safe, delicious, and healthy food for their families.
Through a four-part distribution system, they aim to increase the accessibility in the greater Boston area of locally grown healthy produce. Delivery is through a Community Supported Agriculture Program (CSA), two Farmers’ Markets, internal distribution, and shelters and food kitchens.
As the Food Project proudly claims, they farm in a way that grows the best possible food, at the same time growing the next generation of youth leaders.