Junior Farmers is a Farm Philly gardening program that works with Philadelphia’s youth to care for vegetable gardens, small orchards, and pollinator gardens. It is accessible through after-school programs and summer camps at 15 – 20 participating recreation centers throughout Philadelphia. Farm Philly provides plants, gardening materials, and hires Garden Educators to lead the programming and maintenance support. Educators also work with recreation center staff to help them grow their garden knowledge. There is an existing garden curriculum that is used and adapted by staff each year. The program teaches over 500 young individuals annually about the benefits of growing and eating fresh food and how to care for the environment and their neighborhoods. In addition, hundreds of pounds of food is grown at the gardens for students and community members at recreation centers, as well as community food programs.
There is a long history of gardening at recreation centers prior to the existence of Farm Philly. Some of the Junior Farmer gardens were put in a number of years ago as part of the Penn State Extension “Harvest for Health” program. Others were put in by passionate recreation leaders. Farm Philly brought all these recreation center gardens together under one unified Junior Farmers program, in 2014. During the founding years of Farm Philly, the program created additional gardens and now has gardens located in many regions of Philadelphia.
Youth interested in Junior Farmers must be enrolled in after-school or summer camp programs at participating recreation centers. Call your local recreation center to see if they host a Junior Farmers program, or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for support with finding the closest participating center.