August 12 marks the last day of the Youth Garden Project’s Seed Crew: a group of three high schoolers who worked at the garden this summer doing garden chores in the mornings and working on professional development in the afternoons. The program was developed first in 2019 as a development and employment program for teens ages 14-18 that takes place over the summer. 

This year, the crew of Jackson, Leylia, and Carlos took Seed Crew a step further and created their own business, “Sun & Sego Herbs.” 

“I think this is a really unique opportunity for high schoolers because it’s low pressure and low stakes—they get to experience a lot of different things,” said Emily Rutkowski, the seed crew lead. 

The crew cooked a Weed N’ Feed dinner. [Courtesy photo]

The crew’s first day was June 8, and each of the three was hired after an application and interview process. Throughout the summer, the seed crew earned their food handlers certifications, worked with the summer camp kids, participated in workshops focused on food access and justice, and went on field trips to places including Sorrel River Ranch, Easy Bee Farm, and Our Village Community Center. 

They learned everything from workplace professionalism to how to make mint sorbet, something Rutkowski said the crew was particularly excited about: one member even went home and conducted his own ice cream experiments to report back. 

“In these six or seven weeks, I’ve seen them come out of their shells and try new things and just get excited and engaged,” Rutkowski said. 

The business, Sun & Sego Herbs, was developed entirely by the seed crew. They created the name, logo, packaging, and all the products, which are sold alongside the YGP products at Arts & Ag markets. The crew sells herbs from the YGP garden in a variety of forms: raw, dehydrated, and in mixes, such as a pickle mix and lavender or rosemary scone mix. 

“It’s just fun to have their creative ideas come to the space and inspire me,” she said. “As adults, we can get a little stagnant, and only focus on getting things done. And kids, even teens, just have such good ideas.” 

For one of their last activities of the summer, the crew cooked dinner for Weed N’ Feed: they made pasta with pesto and roasted veggies, focaccia, a dip for sliced carrots and cucumbers, and, of course, sorbet.