In this ethnically diverse city of 105,000 people, it's distressingly easy to summarize life for the 30,000 residents living in urbanized "downtown" Richmond: It is poorer, more violent, less educated, and less employed, with fewer resources and positive opportunities for youth, than almost anywhere in the state. With a ratio of 6:1 fast-food outlets to grocery stores and little green space, Richmond is considered a "food desert," offering young people few opportunities to hope for a better way.
Our Urban Agriculture Institute program teaches young people how to farm, feed, forage, and give back to our community through the Community Supported Agriculture program they operate and the produce they raise at 12 school and community gardens on public land in Richmond. Every day - in the classroom, on the farms, and in the community - we see signs of progress springing up everywhere around us, with young people leading the way to a healthy, sustainable, and just Richmond.
We are improving our community's ability to help itself by cultivating local young people as leaders in urban agriculture, project management and teamwork, which they can use as tools for economic growth, better health and community unity.