Bloomington (Illinois Heart ABC) – A seven-year-old community garden is growing this year with the help of local teenagers.
Sunnyside Community Garden has been supplying high quality fresh produce to local food stores in Blueton for years. Now, the manager is helping the teenagers by training them and preparing them for work on the road.
“We really hope this will be a job training place, so that the children around us are getting the right job training to become adults,” said Dr. Caleb Phillips, farm manager.
Among the vegetables grown in the garden are green leafy vegetables, cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, berries, coconut, asparagus, and more. With the help of 18 teenagers, all 14- to 16-meter-tall gardens have quadrupled over the years.
At the end of the summer, the youngsters will be able to bring in life skills and some extra money. Now, the garden produces so much food that everyone had to find new ways to eat it.
One of the services they use is Indianapolis-based marketplace Wagon, an online peasant market that allows anyone in the area to purchase a Sanside product from the app.
“E-commerce is definitely the next step for any local farmer to grow their business, and we are giving them access to that,” said Nick Carter, CEO.
Phillips estimates that they have reached dozens of new people and families. The plant shares its income with the market, and the profits, in turn, help finance the student counseling program.
“We want to be able to advise them and help them pull in the process and understand what to do when they go into the real world,” Phillips said.
Over the next few years, Phillips hopes to further expand its counseling program to 15 or 20 teens.
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