Urban Roots Youth is Back!
by Sophie Mihevc
My name is Sophie (she/her) and I have had the wonderful opportunity to take on the Urban Roots Youth program this fall. I was excited to take on this program as it would be the first time having teens back in the garden since the pandemic, giving high school students the opportunity to get engaged with school gardening and urban agriculture.
Each week, we have been busy with a wide variety of garden tasks. One particularly memorable program was
when we tried PawPaws, a native fruit, for the very first time! We were all surprised by the tropical banana/mango flavor, coming from a tree that grows right here in Toronto! This also prompted a discussion around food systems, and how far a lot of our fruits have to travel. What would the city look like if we had Paw Paws growing abundantly in our backyards?
Other activities have included planting baby oaks into our new tree nursery, planting garlic and theorizing around vampire origin stories, cooking delicata squash pizza using a recipe shared by a community member and with rooftop-grown squash, harvesting sweet potatoes (planted by the summer Circus Roots/URY participants!), saving corn, bean, and squash seeds, learning about compost, cover crops, and soil health, harvesting and dehydrating herbs for tea blends, and more!
One participant shares how much they love Urban Roots Youth as it gives them a chance to get into the gardens, and that the opportunity to spend time outside is what makes them want to stay engaged with the program. Being active together in the gardens, we feel the benefits to both our mental and physical health, as we build relationships to the land and to each other.
When I started working at Green Thumbs, I learned so much about the plants growing around me that I had hardly paid attention to before. Being able to share this knowledge with others, and engaging students with the natural world around us, is what makes the Urban Roots Youth program so special.