EAST LAURINBURG — Community garden enthusiasts are planting agricultural and business ideas in the minds of young people.
On Wednesday, Partners in Ministry hosted the Youth Market Garden Peer Learning Visit that brought nearly 40 interns, mentors and youth together.
The event included summer interns with the Partners in Ministry Youth Empowered to Succeed (YES) program as well as Men and Women United for Youth and Families, and Little Bud Thorbs and Hattie Mae’s Community Garden. All three are organizations promoting healthier communities through gardening.
The YES program provides tutoring, mentoring and leadership development training to at-risk youth.
All of the organizations have received grants from the Resourceful Communities Organization. headquartered in Chapel Hill. The organization gives money to grassroots groups from around the state.
Grants have gone toward creating the gardens that teach youth fundamental business skills as well as agricultural skills.
Every week, Jesalyn Keziah, a representative of Resourceful Communities, comes to Partners in Ministry to provide a class on entrepreneurship.
“Events like these are for the kids to learn about new techniques and share with each other to improve their gardens,” Keziah said.
There are currently 226 registered community gardens in North Carolina, according to the North Carolina Community Garden Partners website.
The YES program gave a tour of the garden and Jeffrey Steel, youth mentor coordinator, said this year participants grew squash, pumpkin, peas, onion, cucumber, spinach, kale, tomato and okra and sold on portable produce stand at a couple of farmer’s markets. Compost has been used to help grow all of the crops.
Partners in Ministry has also built a greenhouse where it plans to grow strawberries year round. This is the fifth season the garden has been in place.
The YES program made it to a farmers market at Spring Lake and sold almost all of its stock.
“We had a lot of customers at the farmer market, it’s hard to sell in East Laurinburg because people are flying by in their cars,” said Octavion Fairly, a summer intern with YES.
Steel explained the gardens most popular product seemed to be the okra this season because of the large size the pods reached, due to the soil used.
“We need to plant more okra next year,” said Miracle Ray, a YES intern.
The YES program has its portable produce stand that is normally situated on the corner of Third and East Church streets.
Reach Nolan Gilmour at 910-506-3171