Food Works is a dynamic youth development and employment program that empowers 14-21 year olds to be leaders in their community. The Food Works program works with the goal to help young people grow into strong, healthy, educated leaders of their community through four focus areas – growing the farm, community, business, and self. Food Works is under the hospice of Village Gardens, a garden based non-profit based in North Portland.
Growing the Farm: Youth develop skills in sustainable agriculture by being engaged in all aspects of planning, planting, harvesting and caring for a 2-acre farm. In 2011, youth harvested over 17,000lbs of vegetables!
Growing The Business: Youth learn transferable skills such as customer service, cashiering, marketing, and retail display by managing a market booth at the Portland & St John’s farmers markets and partnering with local grocery stores to sell their vegetables.
Growing the Community: Youth impact their community by being positive role models to Village Garden’s kids gardening clubs, by supporting community gardeners, and by donating over 5,000 pounds of produce to their neighbors - serving over 250 families per year.
Growing the Self: By growing food, running a business, and engaging their community Food Works youth are supported to develop the life skills and self-confidence to be successful leaders at work, school, and beyond. Food Works’ youth build significant job skills, set personal goals for school and work identifying their steps to success, expand their social networks, and build leadership skills.