The following youth perspective was brought to you by Juanita Falice, a Senior at the Saul High School of Agricultural Sciences, courtesy of Jessica McAtamney, FPAC Appointed Member and Agriculture Teacher at Saul High School.
The dynamic nature of urban agriculture is what draws me to inner city food production. At every social gathering I have ever attended, food was the sustenance that stimulated conversation, the nourishment that kept voices lively and personable, and the bond that held the room together. Food is not only a necessity to living, but a large part of what makes a community a community. Most people are under the impression that knowing the origin of our food is a luxury, but really it should be regarded as a right. Involving youth in the production of food directly in our communities not only educates the young, but sends a message to the older generations: the capabilities of the youth are expanding due to greater involvement in where our food has its start.
As a youth, I am used to playing in the background at most of my community’s functions. Kids are usually thrust aside to partake in idle play with other kids, or given deflecting tasks meant to keep them out of the way of the adults. To be directly involved in the food that sustains the community gives me a sense of importance and communal identity. I really love being able to plant, tend, and harvest a crop knowing that it may be eaten at a dinner table amongst a family’s evening conversation or served at a restaurant that appreciates locally grown food. Being a youth emerged in urban agriculture also gives me a sense of maturity. I know that when I am out in the field it is my responsibility to assure that these crops are grown with care. I know that my teachers are entrusting me and my fellow classmates with the health of a community. Through my experience in urban agriculture I can feel myself traversing the threshold between adolescence and adulthood. As I gain more and more responsibility, I am glad that intercity Philadelphia has given me a fantastic opportunity in urban agriculture.