Photo by Tom Bauer/Missoulian
Youth Harvest Project at the PEAS Farm
The Youth Harvest Project is a therapeutic, service-oriented, work program. In operation since 2003, it is a collaboration between Missoula Youth Drug Court, Willard Alternative High School, and Garden City Harvest. The Youth Harvest Project employs six to twelve youth each growing season to work at the PEAS Farm. In addition to daily farm work, the youth operate the Mobile Market, harvesting and delivering fresh produce to sell at very low cost to seniors at subsidized housing complexes in town. MORE.
The Youth Farm
The Youth Farm started in 2010 is a partnership with Youth Homes and Garden City Harvest. The Youth Farm was created to give teenagers employment through a hands-on program that provides opportunities for job skills training, community engagement, and empowerment through agriculture. As a productive 2+ acre farm, the Youth Farm crew operates three Mobile-Market sites serving lower income Missoulians, a Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA), and donates 1,000s of pounds of food to family service agencies each year. The Youth Farm’s employment program designed for older adolescents aging out of foster care works directly with Youth Homes staff to provide a safe and challenging environment that teaches and develops social skills, encourages positive behavior, and advocates for personal responsibility. Teen employees are charged with increasing amounts of responsibility for farm operations throughout the season, including managing irrigation, interacting with shareholders and customers, and leading groups of Youth Homes teen volunteers. Our teens learn the skills necessary to grow food and hold a job while becoming active, vital members of their working farm and community. MORE. Learn more about the Tom Roy Youth Guidance Home.
Youth Harvest and The Youth Farm are made possible by numerous Missoula agencies committed to innovative approaches to support our teens. Partners include Youth Homes, Missoula’s Youth Drug Court, Human Resource Council, Willard Alternative High School, the University of Montana, Missoula Aging Services, and the Missoula Food Bank to name a few. We are funded by some of the above agencies, the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, High Stakes Foundation, Missoula Federal Credit Union and many others generous supporters.
Youth employees walk out of the fields on the last day of the season with more than a wage or school credit. What the experience means for each participant will still be growing in them long after we begin again in the spring with the next crew of young people. Their experience builds confidence, leadership skills, and a strong work ethic.
Participants build relationships, and skills that open up new possibilities. Former participants report that these experiences profoundly impacted them – inspiring incremental changes that planted seeds for future growth, healing and success.
I now work at Home Resource, and I wouldn’t have that job if it weren’t for Garden City Harvest.
Imagine you’re a senior citizen, and you’re waiting at your apartment and a big bread truck pulls in and some teenagers pop out of the truck, set up a table and filled that table with vegetables, then and standing there eagerly waiting for you to come buy those vegetables. - Jesse, former Youth Harvest participant