CLEVELAND — A local work-study program by Green Corps is helping teens find employment at urban farms in Midtown, Slavic Village, Fairfax and Buckeye-Woodland communities while giving them and residents around the farms access to fresh food.
For as sure as Shawn Dantzler’s hands look in the dirt, you’d never know gardening didn’t come easily to him once.
“We grew everything,” said Dantzler. “They had us memorize every different type of variety of plant that we had: swiss chard, seven different kinds of tomatoes, things I’d never heard of before,” said Dantzler.
Dantzler had never heard of the food because fresh produce can be hard to find in parts of Cleveland.
“We’re really just trying to get teenagers to eat vegetables,” said Green Corps Director Kelly Barrett, smiling. “That’s what this boils down to.”
Barrett’s program takes roughly 50 students a year and splits them across four farms throughout Cleveland’s east side in Midtown, Slavic Village, Fairfax, and Buckeye Woodland.
“The neighborhoods where our farms are at are considered to be food desserts, so produce in general isn’t available sometimes,” said Barrett.
Students learn to grow food on one of the four farms, then sell it to people who live nearby at a steep discount.
“For a lot of the neighbors who are within walking distance, this is the most convenient place to go and buy local produce,” said Barrett.
Dantzler says his three years in the program were connective not only because he was able to help his neighbors, but because of what he learned outside the farms. Green Corps members also spend part of their summers meeting with local professionals, learning about life skills and what waits for them after they’ve gotten too old to be part of Green Corps for the summer.
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Article Courtesy of WEWS News 5 Cleveland
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