Youth CSA Experience

There’s something incredibly satisfying about eating a cherry tomato that your hands helped to cultivate. It’s juicier, tastes better, and has more meaning because that tiny red (or orange, or yellow) ball represents a piece of your hard work. Many will never know what this feeling is like because a large percentage of our population is simply not as connected to their food as people used to be. When reading through youth applications, it was evident to us that many of our youth applied for LEAF with the intention of learning more about where their food comes from. By the end of the summer season, we are confident that they will be more knowledgeable about their local food system and that they will have a stronger connection to the food they eat.

One of the ways that LEAF tries to connect the youth to the food they eat is by giving them a CSA share of produce each week that they helped to grow and to harvest. Once given the CSA share, the youth are presented with the challenge of cooking a meal for their families using the produce given to them. This can be difficult for those who are not familiar with cooking, yet alone cooking with unfamiliar produce, like Napa cabbage.

For the first CSA week, the youth were given: 2 heads of Napa cabbage, ½ lb of lettuce mix, ½ lb of snap peas, 6 spring onions, plus 1/2 pint of LEAF honey. Here are some of their amazing creations:

We were very impressed by their creativity and ability to incorporate the various plants in their meals. One of our youth crew members, Nic, shares that he made a stir fry out of the items he was given. He says that although he “kind of likes to cook”, it was still challenging trying to utilize all of the ingredients. His mother, Amy, felt “excited” that he made a meal for their family and confirms that the meal was just as “delicious” as it looked in the picture! It’s always exciting to hear feedback from parents about their child’s meal. When the youth cook for their families, the entire family is able to enjoy learning from each other and connecting through food.