Kids learn to eat what they grow.
You might say Tucson Village Farm is a farm of the kids, by the kids, for the kids.
The urban agricultural oasis and UACE 4-H youth development partner spreads the word about the connection between growing and eating food. The message is aimed at kids and spread by kids, and they get to eat the results.
"All of the food we grow here ends up in the mouths of kids," said Elizabeth Sparks, a Pima County Cooperative Extension faculty member who helps run the quarter-acre veggie patch.
The farm broke ground in the spring of 2010. Since then, thousands of people of all ages have visited its "farm camps" and workshops to toil in the soil, learn, and follow their food from garden to table. At most farm gatherings, visitors prepare and eat food grown there.
"It's a total seed-to-table program," Sparks said.
Riley Marsh, a member of the Silver Spurs 4-H Club in Pima County, helped build the farm and worked at a harvest festival there in the fall of 2010. She loves the way the youth garden connects people to the source of their food.
"That's also what 4-H is about," said the high school senior.
The variety of foods grown at the farm is impressive – wheat, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, artichokes, onions, squash, watermelons and more. The Arizona climate allows for year-round growing.
The farm has had surprising results. After one farm camp when Brussels sprouts were ready for harvest, some teens wrinkled their noses at the tiny cabbages. When they tried the ones they picked, however, they were clamoring for more, Sparks said.
It highlights a key reason the farm exists.
"When kids take part in the growing of their food, they eat it – even if it's Brussels sprouts," Sparks said.