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The Growing Project

Our main focus is to connect the community to its food and to advocate for healthy food accessibility through practical and free education, community gardens,and food rescue and redistribution. As an organization we focus on getting healthy, local foods to at-risk youth and low-income populations.

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Young Farmers Training Program

Class

Employment 

Beneficiaries

Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
At-Risk Populations

Description

The Youth Farmers Training Program (YFTP) is a new program dedicated to providing part-time summer jobs to teens ages 14-17 at The Growing Project's Educational Garden. Preference for trainees will be teens who have participated in The Growing Project's Teens for Food Justice Program in previous growing seasons. Teens for Food Justice works with teens ages 13-17 referred from the diversion program from The Center for Family Outreach. For 8 weeks, participants work at the educational garden, take cooking classes, receive horticultural therapy, and design and implement their own food related community service project. Upon completion of the program, the teen's community service requirements are fulfilled and they receive a small stipend.

Up to 8 YFTP trainees will work for 8 weeks at the educational garden for 12 hours a week. Two hours each week will be focused on different educational components about farming and gardening including various aspects in entrepreneurial and vocational skill training. Trainees will learn about planting, farm maintenance, harvesting as well as different ways to make money through agriculture, customer service skills, and marketing skills. Trainees will earn a larger stipend upon completion of the program.

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Evidence of Program's Success

In 2017, we have successfully found funding to provide positions for 3 teens at the farm.

Nature Rides

Class

Environment 

Beneficiaries

Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
At-Risk Populations
Children (4-12 years)
Hispanic, Latino Heritage

Description

The Growing Project started a new, educational program that connects youth from The Boys and Girls Club to natural areas in North West Fort Collins for activities related to the watershed and local ecology with Growing Project educators and experts. TGP would work with Bike Fort Collins and the Bike Co-op to secure bikes and bicycle education for youth participants to ride from their facilities to the natural areas with TGP staff. Part of programming would include occasional services days that would partner with The City of Fort Collins to do clean up in the natural areas and learn about river health from City experts. Youth will also have the opportunity to invite family members on these rides.

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Evidence of Program's Success

In 2017, we have hosted over 50 rides with youth ages 8-14. Both The Family Center and The Boys and Girls Club thought the program was super successful and would like to continue it in 2018.

Teens for Food Justice

Class

Youth Development 

Beneficiaries

Mentally/Emotionally Disabled
Offenders/Ex-offenders
Substance Abusers (Drug/Alcohol Abusers)
Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Description

This program works specifically with adjudicated youth in the diversion program at The Center for Family Outreach. The diversion program is an alternative-to-sentencing program for youth struggling with substance abuse, disruptive or high-risk behaviors and/or family conflict due to adolescent development issues. Diversion is an educational and intervention program for teens who have received a legal summons and successful completion of program requirements means that all legal charges will be dropped from a teen's record.
TGP will host one nine-week farm sessions in 2016 with teens ages 15 to 17 from the diversion program. The Center for Family Outreach will screen and select 10 teens per session to partake in 10 hours of work a week at The Growing Project's ¼ acre garden. Part of the 10 hours will include one hour of horticulture therapy a week with a certified therapist, one cooking class per session, and a community service project. Community service projects can include delivering produce by bike to nonprofits that feed the hungry, preparing a meal with local produce at Catholic Charities, or working with the nonprofit Sproutin' Up to help run weekly free farmers markets with at-risk middle school students in low-income neighborhoods. The Center for Family Outreach will help facilitate community service projects and support farm participants throughout the program. Participants will also earn a $100 stipend for completing the program.
The Growing Project's goal is to provide an experiential environment for at-risk youth to learn important life skills while working through their behavioral and emotional issues. Through horticulture related activities, TGP expects to see improved concentration, motivation, and self-esteem, as well as reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. It also stimulates healthy social interaction among participants, improves nutrition, promotes physical activity, and increases time spent outdoors. Participants will also learn important vocational and leadership skills through this program.

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Evidence of Program's Success

This is a new program. However, The American Horticultural Therapy Association says that horticulture as a vocation helps at-risk youth obtain job skills, reconnect with their communities, and increase their knowledge, consumption, and access to healthy foods.

Garden Time

Class

Youth Development 

Beneficiaries

Ethnic/Racial Minorities - General
Poor/Economically Disadvantaged
Young Adults (20-25 years)
Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Description

Garden Time works with at-risk and disadvantaged youth from The Boys and Girls Club and The Family Center/La Familia in the garden. Participants learn about gardening, nutrition, cooking, environmental and social issues. In 2015, TGP expanded this program working with over 90 youth in the garden. This program runs twice a week with each agency. Seven-twenty participants ages 6-13 attend each session and over 50% are Latino/Hispanic. Through Garden Time, TGP expects to see its youth participants strengthen their social bonds with the help of the CSU mentors, increase their academic engagement, and improve their self-esteem. TGP also expects increased awareness and access to healthy foods for participants by giving them the tools and knowledge to make healthy lifestyle choices.

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Evidence of Program's Success

Last season, the survey asked about future interest in garden based activities. Nearly all agreed they would be interested in further participation. The survey also asked about feeling helpful to the students who run the Student Sustainable Farm. All agreed their work felt helpful and necessary. Another question asked about the ease of socializing within the Garden Time program. Most felt it made socializing easy and natural. Nearly 100% of participants said their knowledge had increased about healthy food options and many expressed that they tried a food they had never tried before.

TGP University

Class

Education 

Beneficiaries

Adults
Families
Poor/Economically Disadvantaged

Description

The Growing Project University is the educational branch of The Growing Project. This program is dedicated to spreading the knowledge of community experts in a variety of topics including gardening, cooking, and nutrition through hands-on workshops and online resources. All workshops are low-cost or donation-based.

The Growing Project also partners with the food bank to hold food preservation classes for food bank clients.

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Evidence of Program's Success

Numbers of participants have been steady at all TGP workshops. Feedback from participants is good and many express the desire to attend workshops in the future.

Educational Garden

Class

Food, Agriculture & Nutrition 

Beneficiaries

Adults
Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)
Families
Poor/Economically Disadvantaged
Young Adults (20-25 years)

Description

TGP has a one acre educational garden and hoop house in north Fort Collins. Not only does The Growing Project's educational garden provide thousands of pounds of food annually for low-income populations, but it hosts a number of unique educational and volunteer opportunities. Volunteers help feed their community while gaining valuable knowledge the local watershed, native/edible plant identification and environmentally sustainable gardening techniques. Workshops are held on topics such as foraging for edible plants, eating bugs, composting and more. Additionally the garden hosts programs that serve at-risk and disadvantaged youth.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

We have good feedback from garden volunteers about their experiences in the garden. In addition, over 4,000 pounds of produce was donated from the garden in 2015.

Key aspects of this profile information have been reviewed by Community First Foundation staff. Each organization is exclusively responsible for the content that appears on the profile page. Community First Foundation offers general guidance as to the purpose of each area but does not require or encourage charities to include anything in particular in each section.