Growing Cleveland Youth Since 1996
Since 1996, the Botanical Garden has touched more than 1,000 young lives through the program, which uses urban agriculture and business as catalysts to help local youth apply academic skills in the real world, develop essential workplace and life skills, and interact with people from a variety of backgrounds. This life-affirming, meaningful work-study program prepares them for higher education and careers as they learn to grow, harvest and sell fresh produce.
Green Corps teaches teens the skills needed to achieve academically, become leaders, secure future employment, and make wise decisions about their lives. “Photosynthesis didn’t make sense in school, but now it does because they care here,” noted one teen about his experience. “It gives us a chance to be leaders and stuff, start making our own healthy eating decisions … and then also share those decisions with the community around us.” “Green Corps is a good first job, because it molds you for other jobs. You learn what’s right and not right on a job, responsibilities on a job, and proper vocabulary and language.” Working with Green Corps “was a confidence boost—I know something that my peers don’t know so I can talk to them and I am knowledgeable.”
Green Corps teens contribute to the local-food movement by growing more than 100 varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. They sell their fresh produce to people living in the learning farm neighborhoods and at local farmers markets as well. Green Corps helps low-income residents stretch their food budget by accepting food vouchers and coupons issued by the state and local health care agencies.
Green Corps’ five learning farms transform vacant lots into productive farms that bring vibrancy, green space and environmental benefits to inner-city neighborhoods. The farm stands make fresh produce accessible to residents of these food-desert areas. And it awakens participating teens to the role they have in helping the environment: “When I walk down the street and see vacant lots, I think about turning them into gardens.” “We need to take care of our environment and I am going to do my part.”