I wanted to post an impact study that I performed this year of the Urban Agriculture Institutes that I used to run in Richmond, Calif. This paper represents the first step in a program evaluation of Urban Tilth’s Urban Agriculture Institutes. While this study had an intervention/control cross sectional design, with no baseline data it cannot make any causal claims. The data for the full program evaluation does have a pre/post element and is being currently analyzed.
The program that Urban Tilth is now running is a mature, well conceived model that I believe has replicable qualities for schools throughout the country. The idea is fairly simple. An urban agriculture program at the high school level, that gives high school graduation credit, provides food system education, cooking and tasting demonstrations, community and service learning all under the larger focus of intensive urban food production. Students manage their own school garden or farm, and create a working Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) business model to provide produce to the community. During the summer when school is out (and school gardens become abandoned) Urban Tilth hires the trained Urban Aggers to continue their training, and manage many school and urban gardens throughout the summer. Students return next year as leaders in the continuing work of producing food for the community.
I hope you enjoy reading it and I’m getting excited about putting together the final program evaluation to show a national audience what Urban Tilth is doing…
Students Growing Food: A Study of a Food-Production Focused Intervention in a California High School
On Saturday, June 5th, DC Prep Academy Charter School and Rails to Trails Conservancy teamed up to add another urban/school garden into the growing rolls of urban agriculture taking place around the country. The 1000 square foot garden set in Northeast D.C.’s Edgewood community will combine an edible forest of fruit trees, perennial vegetables, herbs, insectary plants and dynamic accumulators with a large space for growing annual crops like collards, corn, squash, tomatoes and more.
Garden Site before Transformation
The advantage of this garden site is that it is located along the brand new Metropolitan Branch Trail coming out of Union Station which provides previously cut-off communities accessibility to the metro and to Union Station and the Capital. The garden will not only beautify the new bike trail it will hopefully connect the charter school to the community in a new way. DC Prep is housed in the old industrialized buildings that would use the nearby railroad industry and even now their middle school campus has no playground to speak of. A true “urban” campus, DC Prep students are absolutely the students that most need to be reconnected to the growing of food and how it affects our lives
New Garden Site
Plans are being made for how the garden will be used, but classes and teachers are already lining up to use the garden in their curriculum. Hopefully, the site will be used not only to educate students in genuine food production, but bring a small and steady stream of locally grown produce into the homes of the students and teachers at the school. DC Prep already is at the forefront of school food, using Revolution Foods as their sourcing agent and we hope next year to collaborate with Revolution Foods in cooking demonstrations using food from the garden.
Three 60 ft rows will keep the kids busy