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Garden Innovators connects youth to local food systems

The Garden Innovators Program is a Seattle Parks and Recreation youth internship program that focuses on analyzing the societal intersections of culture, food, history, health and wellness, and garden science. Participants also look at the complexities of systemic and environmental racism, and analyze how different elements play a role in healthy resources and food access. The program is based out of the South Park neighborhood, which was identified by Public Health King County-Seattle as a “food desert”.

This summer, Garden Innovators participants explored the impact of food culture on health, learned basic ecological concepts around botany, explored ways to promote a healthier environment in their communities, and gained an introduction to basic business building and marketing strategies.

In July, Garden Innovators interns visited Pike Place Market to see how fresh food is displayed and sold there, as well as for a taste! With the guidance of two professional chefs at the Atrium test kitchen, the Garden Innovators had an opportunity to prepare a meal of toasted veggie sandwiches and pasta, along with a tossed green salad with fresh-made dressing.

The internship program culminated with the youth gaining real world experience in the food industry through a partnership with Resistencia Coffee in South Park. Participants learned barista skills and about the coffee industry, and also used their newly acquired business skills to oversee a farm stand that operated on Wednesdays over the summer in Resistencia Coffee’s outdoor space.

The Garden Innovators program is supported by the South Park Community Center and Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Urban Food Systems Program, which provides access to healthy food and active recreation opportunities while focusing on increasing environmental stewardship through food system programs. Learn more here.