Hands On Nashvilleâ€TMs Flagship Youth Agriculture Program, Crop City,

Kicks Off on June 8

Geographic and economic barriers prevent many Nashville area families from obtaining fresh and nutritious whole foods. The end result of this is that a portion of the regionâ€TMs youth has little access to, or knowledge of, healthy eating. Hands On Nashvilleâ€TMs flagship Urban Agriculture program, Crop City, is striving to change that. Crop City, a free six-week program targeting youth 8-18 years old, highlights the benefits of healthy eating and teaches participants how to do it. The program, now in its fourth summer of operation, takes place June 8–July 24 at HONâ€TMs five-acre Urban Farm in south Nashville.

Crop Cityâ€TMs curriculum combines games, gardening activities and cooking in a hands-on environment. Program participants rotate through three stations: 1) a growing station, where youth plant and harvest foods; 2) a nutrition station, where they learn the differences between whole and processed foods, and prepare and sample healthy and delicious snacks; and 3) an impact station that teaches youth about our food system and sustainable practices.

“For many of our participants, actually seeing food growing is a completely new experience,” says Josh Corlew, Hands On Nashvilleâ€TMs Urban Agriculture program manager. “Seeing the shock on a kidâ€TMs face when she realizes that carrots grow under the ground is amazing. We think that making the connection that our food comes from the earth is an important step in encouraging them to think about how to treat the earth responsibly.”

While participants enjoy all aspects of the immersive experience, Corlew says the nutrition station is a program highlight: “Cooking and eating is always one of the most exciting parts of the day, because everyone loves to eat good food! Many of our participants are trying foods such as kale, eggplant, snap peas…for the first time. Watching their reactions go from disgust, when they realize weâ€TMre about to eat something that came out of the ground, to surprised, when they taste how sweet a sugar snap pea can be, never gets old.

“My greatest hope for Crop City,” Corlew concludes, “is that, after participating, youth show an increased willingness to eat whole foods.” Groups or organizations with youth interested in participating in Crop City may sign up at http://www.hon.org/UACropCity, or contact Charlotte Pate at (615) 298-1108 x417 or charlotte@hon.org. Registration will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. There are also a limited number of open enrollment slots available for individuals. High school students interested in an internship as a Crop City youth leader should also visit the website.