In Network News

Groundwork Buffalo, Field & Fork Network and Grassroots Gardens are pleased to announce the Fresh Food Fellows: Urban Agriculture Entrepreneurship Program, a paid job training opportunity and certification program for Buffalo youth that will prepare the next generation of food and agriculture industry professionals for the workforce.

Over the course of six months, participants will gain employable and transferable job skills by learning how to grow, cultivate and sell produce in an urban environment. They will also accrue firsthand job experience through employment in real markets and receive ongoing support for career development.

“Our program aims to increase awareness of opportunities in the growing agricultural sector as well as create new opportunities within the local food system to support community health. This certification program frames urban agriculture as an entrepreneurial endeavor and will help to develop a new generation of food and agriculture professionals in Buffalo, generating a pipeline of skilled labor that connects youth to real job opportunities in the city and region,” said Antonina Simeti, executive director of Groundwork Buffalo.

The program, which will kick off in late March and run through August, brings three organizations together in partnership. Groundwork Buffalo will lead recruitment and program oversight efforts and connect the fellows to other youth and opportunities within their broader Green Team Youth Program; Field and Fork Network will adapt their Fresh Food Fellows educational curriculum to conduct classroom workshops on personal goal setting, resume writing, interview skills, workplace management, and business planning; and Grassroots Gardens will train participants in the cultivation, construction and operation of a market garden and farm stand.

“The Fresh Food Fellows project allows us to work collaboratively to create a partnership that is greater than the sum of its parts. Each of our organizations works to strengthen the local food system and urban agriculture landscape in complimentary ways, from the perspectives of land use, access, nutrition and community engagement, and this project allows us to bring our collective areas of expertise together to share with and empower youth,” said Melissa Fratello, executive director of Grassroots Gardens. “Market gardens are a unique tool to introduce participants to agriculture on an urban scale, while serving the needs of the community.”

Groundwork Market Garden, an urban farm that provides community members with organic, nutrient-rich produce to promote greater health and a connection to the local food system, and the African Heritage Co-operative Mobile Market, a membership-based co-op that helps the local community take ownership of its food and provide employment opportunities for itself, will act as employer partners. Youth will intern one to two days a week at these sites during the summer work portion of the program. Delavan-Grider Community Center will provide classroom space and serve as a home base for a new, nearby market garden.

The program is made possible by a two-year Green Jobs For Youth grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which aims to serve communities that face environmental justice and unemployment challenges.

Interested youth can find more information and learn how to apply for the program by contacting Johnnie Fenderson at jfenderson@gwbuffalo.org. The deadline for applications is Thursday, March 8, 2018.