Kaitlin Thomas

Guest Columnist

The View

The months of cold and short days haven’t impeded growth at the Youth Garden Project.

The staff have done a lot of work these past few months setting the stage for the next growing season ahead while continuing to operate programs throughout the entire winter. Some of the Youth Garden Project programs are new developments, such as student interns from the Grand County High School.

Treygan is a senior student at the high school who joined the Youth Garden Project team as an intern through the Career and Technical Education’s work-based learning program. He has helped the Youth Garden Project plan for plantings in the grow-dome, re-purposed yogurt containers for seedling pots, turned compost and so much more. The Youth Garden Project is saying goodbye to Treygan at the end of the trimester, but the organization is looking forward to having another student intern join the team. 

High school internships with the Youth Garden Project are a great opportunity to learn about agriculture and food production, but also entrepreneurship and nonprofit work.

Cara Grula, a VISTA education coordinator, has been an essential piece of the Youth Garden Project’s program development with the middle and high schools. Of particular note is the new high school course she has been implementing called Agriculture in Your Area that began in November. This course gives students the chance to learn about food systems, sustainable agriculture and the wonderful world of plants. The Youth Garden Project (YGP) is continuing this class each trimester for students. YGP will continue to host middle school environmental science, an assortment of other high school class workshops about art and food science, as well as work with Erik Secrist’s new Urban Farming elective class at the middle school.

YGP’s Garden Classroom Field Trips for elementary school students begins in early April and YGP will also host another year of Spring Break Camp on April 15-19. For the first time, camp will be expanding to a full day offering with a generous partnership with the Moab Valley Multicultural Center.

In addition to the exciting new developments in youth programming, YGP is also developing in its community and food spheres as well. YGP hired a new VISTA community program volunteer Abby Meyer in January, and Meyer will be doing a lot of work centered on YGP outreach, developing a volunteer program and expanding the reach of healthy, local food to people in the community by developing new workshops and partnerships.

In an effort to reach more households through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), YGP will be increasing its number of shareholders and distributing produce biweekly. This reduces the price per share, thus increasing accessibility for those who are wanting to incorporate more local produce at home. Pickups will happen in tandem with the weekly Produce Stand Collective, another new development in the year ahead. With the absence of a managing entity for Moab’s farmers’ market, YGP is working to fill this gap by providing an additional access point for local food that benefits both consumers and growers.

This idea was born from the momentum that was created through the participation in the farm stand that Castle Valley Farms hosted on the YGP site in 2018. YGP is looking forward to selling produce alongside Castle Valley Farms and is in the process of contacting other local growers to get them involved at the Produce Stand Collective.

Sales will involve produce only — oh, and Moab’s famous farmers’ market cooked carrot hot dog, of course!

Castle Valley Farms will begin its produce stand in April, and YGP will join the fun in May to officially commence the Produce Stand Collective. The Produce Stand Collective will run every Tuesday evening beginning on May 7, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. during the spring.

There are many ways to get involved with and support the Youth Garden Project this spring and beyond.

The free and open Weed ‘n Feeds event returns on April 3 and will continue every Wednesday throughout the season. Volunteers weed the garden for an hour in exchange for a garden-fresh meal. All ages are encouraged to participate. Then, the annual spring plant sale is on April 27 and May 4.

Coming up first, however, is the Youth Garden Project’s ninth annual online auction fundraiser, which is being held from March 14-20. Get ready to bid. YGP looks forward to working with the community this season.

Kaitlin Thomas is the Youth Garden Project director.

“Pickups will happen in tandem with the weekly Produce Stand Collective, another new development in the year ahead.”