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Austin Community Farms: Urban Roots Helps Feed All of Austin

published on June 18, 2012

Urban Roots is an Austin farm with a unique agenda: in addition to growing healthy food for the community, they train teenagers to produce, prepare, cook and sell food; lead each other; and then donate back to the community. Most of the teens selected for internships come from low-socioeconomic backgrounds, as the program provides vital career training in everything from management to gourmet cooking to sales, as well as leadership opportunities, but youth from across Austin, including Austin luxury homes in neighborhoods like Eanes ISD and Avery Ranch, are welcome to apply for this fantastic summer experience. The non-profit farm uses sustainable agriculture to transform the lives of young people and increase the access to healthy food in Austin.

Urban Roots helps teens by providing paid internships to work on 3.5 acres of urban sustainable farm land in East Austin. They then donate 40% of the harvest to local soup kitchens and food pantries and sell the other 60% at farmers’ markets, through their Community Supported Agriculture Program, and wholesale. Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA programs, package a selection of the week’s harvest for distribution to recipients in every Austin community, from Belterra to Rob Roy. 

During the 25-week spring and summer youth program, youth interns at the farm develop essential life and job skills while growing food for the Austin community. Additionally, youth interns receive a variety of workshops on sustainable agriculture, healthy lifestyles, life and job skills, and food justice issues, including hands-on service at hunger relief organizations. Through a dynamic and holistic program, Urban Roots youth interns grow into some of Austin’s youngest leaders, advocating for a sustainable and healthy food system for all. 

Urban Roots doesn’t just teach kids, it also welcomes volunteers, and is perfect if you like being outdoors, meeting new and interesting people, and learning more about where your food comes from and how to produce it. Urban Roots staff will train all volunteers to work on the land, support the youth program, and help grow food for the Austin community. Volunteers help with planting, harvesting, preparing produce for market, and whatever else needs to be done. Urban Roots also offers Corporate Team Building days that bring groups of co-workers together on the farm to serve their community and increase group cohesion in the process. 

Local produce from the Urban Roots farm is available seasonally to the Austin community at the Austin Farmers’ Markets Downtown and at The Triangle. Produce also can be purchased through a Community Supported Agriculture program, where every week, or every other, you receive a box full of what’s currently growing at the farm, which can range from fresh tomatoes to leafy greens to whatever is currently in season.

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