Students from West and Southwest Philadelphia will participate in the annual Harvest Festival at Bartram's Garden, 54th and Lindbergh, on Nov. 3.
Bartram's Garden, which consists of 45 acres of land, is America’s oldest botanical garden. This event will celebrate the inaugural recognition of its community farm and food resource center.
“It’s an annual event that is put on by the Agaston Urban Nutrition Initiative,” said the program coordinator, Tyler Holmberg.
In previous years, the festival was held at Sayre and University City high schools in West Philadelphia. However, this year, thanks to the Initiative and its partners, it will be held at the historic site, which has a larger farm.
During the festival, visitors will have an opportunity to enjoy free food, face painting and other activities like sack races. There will also be exhibits and a free tour of the home of the late botanist, John Bartram.
“We’ll have a series of 15 different stations ranging from garlic planting, a cider press, food sampling, and there will be people from different partners including Bartram's Garden, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation,” Holmberg said. “What’s cool about this is, it’s youth- run and youth-powered. High school students from all over West and Southwest Philadelphia who are part of our youth development program and get paid to do this kind of work, will be there manning the stations.”
Some 80 high school students participate in this seasonal event hosted by the initiative, and they are not only taught healthy cooking but also participate in peer education, where they get opportunities to teach members of the community about nutritional foods and healthy cooking and eating.
Along with the educational aspect of the program is a financial literacy component, according to Holmberg.
“It’s really like having a job; there is a job training component to that, and once a week there are classes around resume writing or filling out a college application, things like that,” he said.
The students are paid through grants from the Philadelphia Youth Network and the Department of Health and Human services. During the summer, student participation may increase to as many as 130 local youth.
Chris Golden-Newsome, co-coordinator of the farm, says his responsibility includes, among other things, the oversight and management of the activities at Bartram's Garden.
“I come from a farming family from the deep South,” said Newsome who developed an interest in what he refers to as food sovereignty. “All of our food comes from somewhere, and all of our food comes to us as a result of human work.”