In partnership with Y.O.U. Evanston, we designed and built a raised-bed vegetable garden at Y.O.U headquarters, and developed a year-round educational program with high-school students called F Cubed: Food, Farming, Future. In our first year, 50 students participated, learning practical skills such as gardening and cooking with fresh vegetables. They also gained valuable business experience by selling produce at the West End Farmers Market. Throughout the year, we taught students about the many environmental, health, and social justice issues related to our food system and what they can do to actively participate in changing our food system for the better for everyone.
In addition to F Cubed, we also partner with Y.O.U. at some of their elementary and Middle School locations (Edison, Dawes Elementary, Lincoln Junior High, Old Orchard Junior High) to teach students all about how they can grow their own gardens, harvest vegetables, and the nutritional benefits of fresh produce. Students are also introduced to concepts like the importance of eating local, caring for the environment, soil health, and identifying good and bad insects.
“The Talking Farm has lovingly supported this program at all levels — program and curriculum development, instruction, garden maintenance, purchasing — and through their tremendous knowledge, expertise, and dedication have made these programs some of Y.O.U.’s most impactful, engaging, and fun offerings.“
– Casey Varela, Manager of Strategic Partnerships at Y.O.U.
In 2009, in partnership with Evanston Township High School, we converted an empty lot across from the high school’s main entrance into a 5,000 square foot organic garden. This food production project provides learning experiences for students, leadership opportunities, and five summer jobs for ETHS students, as well as produces 2,500 pounds of fresh produce each year to be used in the school cafeteria and the summer faculty CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) program.
Throughout the school year, we teach students about growing organic vegetables from seed starting, planting, soil health, pest management, harvesting, washing, distribution, and more. We discuss the importance of local, organic produce, and the issues surrounding our food system.
Since its founding, the Edible Acre has expanded to include an Edible Orchard of apple and pear trees, a Greenhouse, a growing wall, and a new garden made up of fourteen large raised beds.
“The ETHS Edible Acre, Orchard, Greenhouse and Wall would not be possible without The Talking Farm! This relationship has grown and developed over many years and will continue to advance more and more with more and more success!“
-Kim Minestra, Director of Nutrition Services
In this growing partnership, The Talking Farm has coordinated with Orchard Village to provide its clients and community members with fresh, organic produce grown on site by managing their very own urban farm. Over 20% of the produce grown in Orchard Village’s farm is donated to a local food pantry, and the remainder is sold at the Skokie Farmers Market. The Talking Farm also educates clients on the importance of being connected to nature and eating healthy food, as well as working with their Garden Club to promote hands-on agricultural experiences.
Originally funded as a part of a grant awarded by the Skokie Community Foundation to Orchard Village and The Talking Farm, the partnership will continue to grow, and educate clients and staff about nutrition and incorporating fresh vegetables into their meals.
“Our partnership with The Talking Farm has greatly increased our knowledge of organic farming techniques and practices and resulted in increased yield from our small urban farm. The staff are friendly, professional, and above all, knowledgeable! They work with us to engage and train our clients with disabilities and staff and help us to run a productive operation.“
-Allison V. Stark, President & CEO