The Youth Garden Project’s organic “Weed ‘N’ Feeds” are once again calling for hands to work and mouths to feed, starting earlier this week on Wednesday, April 4, and continuing every other Wednesday until mid-October.
“Anyone is welcome to come,” YGP Operations and Development Director Kate Niederehe said. “(There is) no RSVP needed. People congregate on the patio at 6 p.m.; we weed for about an hour and a half, and then we have a meal together out of garden ingredients. That’s been the basics. It goes until about 8 p.m. or so.”
This year, Niederehe said, the Youth Garden Project is looking to grow its numbers and continue to diversify through merging the volunteer component with the workshop component. Each Weed ‘N’ Feed will kick off with a different mini-workshop on a specific topic related to sustainable gardening.
“For example, the first one will be about cool weather or spring veggie planting,” Niederehe said. “And the following will be all about composting, (followed by) understanding soil types and amendment.”
A calendar listing the 20-minute workshop topics can be found on the Youth Garden Project’s website at: youthgardenproject.org/weednfeeds.
The Youth Garden Project is located at 530 S. 400 East, along the Mill Creek Pathway that weaves through town.
Attendee Jenna Woodbury says her 8-year-old twins like to play in the creek when they’re avoiding weeding, and their favorite part is the garden-fresh desserts – specifically the peach cobbler.
Woodbury started attending Weed ‘N’ Feeds some 10 years ago, and now enjoys the diversity of people she and her kids get to meet at the events.
“It’s kind of fun because it’s a mix of locals and out-of-towners who see the (Weed ‘N’ Feed) signs,” she said. “We’ve met some interesting people for sure!”
Deb Ashby said that the YGP gives her kids access to gardening they otherwise wouldn’t have.
“We don’t have a garden,” she said. “So it’s nice as a parent to be able to say, ‘Yes – this is yard work, this is what weeding is, this is what’s necessary for food to grow.’”
While the Weed ‘N’ Feeds have become a tradition for many and are family-friendly, they reportedly continue to attract a new variety of young interns and seasonal workers.
“I found out about YGP through a Weed ‘N’ Feed when I was on a CFI internship in 2010,” Niederehe said. “I would come to meet people, get some nice fresh food, be outside and be active, and to give back to the community … We still see that.”
The first Weed ‘N’ Feed was over a decade ago. Meals were cooked on camp stoves and dishes were done with the ‘3-gallon bucket river system.’ In 2005, the kitchen was built on-site, and in recent years, the YGP began inviting community volunteers to take over food preparation.
“We started asking for volunteers in the community who enjoy cooking,” Niederehe said. “People who get something from the experience of cooking with garden-fresh foods.”
This increased community involvement, and opened up a platform for further diversity in food presentation.
To kick off the season right, YGP staff summoned AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers Zoe Huston, Margaret Jala and Claire Spalding to return to the Weed ‘N’ Feed kitchen.
“They’ve cooked for a number of meals and they’re always really good, so I wanted to start with them,” Niederehe said.
All dishes are vegetarian, and YGP cannot guarantee further dietary accommodations. However, different cooks have different preferences, and more information about upcoming meals can be found by contacting the office at 435-259-2326.
Youth Garden Project’s Weed ‘N’ Feeds are back through October
What: Youth Garden Project’s Weed ‘N’ Feeds
When: Every other Wednesday through mid-October
Where: Youth Garden Project, 530 S. 400 East
Information: youthgardenproject.org/weednfeeds, or 435-259-2326
We don’t have a garden … So it’s nice as a parent to be able to say, ‘Yes – this is yard work, this is what weeding is, this is what’s necessary for food to grow.