Each quarter, GreenStar selects three local not-for-profits to be the recipients of our Bring Your Own Bag, Use It for Good program donations. Our BYOB program encourages shoppers to bring their own bags by providing them with a token worth 5¢ that they can donate to one of the chosen organizations. At the end of the quarter, we make a donation to the groups based on the number of tokens given by our customers. This quarter, our recipients are the Youth Farm Project, Loaves and Fishes, and Browncoat Cat Rescue. We asked Youth Farm Project administrator Katie Church to tell us a bit about the program:

The Youth Farm Project is eagerly meeting Spring and the start of our 9th growing season. We have grown to hold programming that now includes young people from pre-K to college students. Our teen summer program remains our strong anchor, with ~25 teens paid throughout the summer to learn about and work on the farm, and engage in challenging conversations and critical thinking around our food system, equity and race.

We joyfully welcome ~600 elementary students to the farm each Spring and Fall, where they are “farmers for a day”, learning about soil and compost, harvesting and tasting new things, and beginning to ask important questions about who grows food, and where it comes from. Throughout the summer elementary kids continue to come to the farm, whether with the Farm-To-Table program, or with their summer camps.

Though the farm is much quieter during the Winter months, there are still young people exploring, learning and working on it. The students at the Ithaca Waldorf School have an hour and half block of Farm Stewardship class each week, rain, shine or sleet. Most recently they finished collecting and boiling maple and hickory sap. During the Winter months we are in the community, working with GIAC, Cookin’ and Groovin’ in the kitchen with young people there, in elementary class rooms for Rainbow Nutrition lessons, and in the high schools doing tabling, facilitating workshops, etc.

Our food distribution reaches ICSD students and families, both through the Fresh Snack Program, which provides fresh fruit and vegetable snacks to 5 out of 7 of the ICSD elementary schools, in each classroom, 3 days per week, but also through the Child Nutrition Program, where it appears in the hot lunches and salad bars. Our Mobile Market stand cruises down the hill to be at John’s Convenience Store and Pete’s weekly.

The Harvest Box Program, now going into its 4the year, is one of the most fun parts of the week during the growing season. Fresh vegetables are brought to Titus Towers and McGraw House. The folks who live there do a little weekly shopping and get to know the teens who grow the food.

We are thankful for the presence of GreenStar in our community, and for the support of the members and shoppers. Your support will carry us along towards our mission of empowering youth from diverse social and economic backgrounds as integral participants in building local food communities. YFP is dedicated to healing the food system through an anti-racist organizing lens by bringing together youth from diverse backgrounds to explore environmental and social injustice within the food system.

We believe that through critical thinking and openly learning about these issues, we can begin the healing of our food system, the earth, and ourselves. By developing leadership and communication skills with young people and having them participate in all aspects of food production and farming – from planting to harvesting and distributing, we can increase our unity and hope for positive change in our community and beyond.

GreenStar is pleased to be a part of supporting the Youth Farm Project and their mission here in Tompkins County!

Are you involved with a not-for-profit organization that might benefit from our Bring Your Own Bag, Use It for Good program? Apply here.