From the Ground Up

 If YouthLaunch organizers have their way, 20 new farmers, ages 14 to 18, will sprout on Austin’s East side, just in time for spring planting.

But first, there’s farmland to find.

Russell Smith, executive director of the 13-year-old Austin non-profit, characterizes his mission as “empowering young people through service.”  Past programs include training teen moms and dads to teach their peers the realities of parenting, and helping underage people fight underage alcohol use.

Farming fits the agenda perfectly, says Max Elliott, Urban Roots program coordinator. “It will give young people the opportunity to learn organic farming practices, grow produce for people in need and then teach volunteers on the land.” Part of the harvest will be donated to food pantries and soup kitchens and the rest sold affordably in East Austin neighborhoods.

After a year, some will come back as team leaders and teach workshops to others in the community. In other words, Urban Roots will teach teens to teach other teens, and if all goes well, adults will step out of the way.

Seed funding came from a five-percent day at Whole Foods last summer, and Urban Roots will be the beneficiary of Edible Austin’s Eat Local Week, December 8-15. Check the YouthLaunch web site for developing details, future events, program details and ways you can help.