The Urban Delights Farm Stand re-opened today in its first appearance this season at the Downtown Syracuse Farmers’ Market. Residents gravitated towards the fresh produce.
Youth ranging from 15 to 21 years-old operate the stand as a summer job. They’re hired through Central New York Works or Jubilee Homes to garden and sell their crops around Syracuse. 19-year-old Karisa Kirby is one of ten workers who not only gain work experience, but also educate CNY’s youth about organic produce.
“We have got a lot of kids that come and they have never touched soil in their life. They’re like, ‘What’s a compost?’” Kirby said. “One thing they know about is maybe collard greens but a lot of the vegetables they really don’t know anything about.”
Some young adults such as Ira Dancil started this program with no gardening experience. But he and others now know what it takes to grow fruits and vegetables.
“First they taught me how to plant seeds, then maintenance by weeding, so it keeps the plants strong and healthy,” said Dancil. “Then in watering, you don’t wet the leaves, you wet the bottom so the roots can get watered.”
The crops are grown organically in raised beds without pesticides. Site supervisor Semaj Campbell says the community should know about the availability of quality and affordable food.
“It’s very important to grow locally and eat locally because you know you’re getting your food organically and you’re supporting your own community,” Campbell said. “In terms of our youth, they’re learning the responsibility of community, and that is important for them because the Southwest side of Syracuse was a food desert.”
As a result of the enriching experience, Karisa Kirby became more aware of health issues and food poverty for low-income households.
“This program has helped me connect with my community,” Kirby said. “I grew up in Syracuse, I have lived here my whole life. This program really made me aware of some of the issues that we have, things that we face. So it makes you want to make a difference.”
The Urban Delights Farm Stand is open at the Farmers’ Market every Tuesday from 7:30 A.M. to 2:30 P.M. The public can also plant their own produce at no cost in their community garden.