The Blog

Choose Healthier | October 16, 2015

Provider Spotlight: Urban Roots

Urban Roots Farm Director Lea Scott was happy to chat with me, but she certainly didn’t stop to talk. She kept moving, heaving bags of soil, filling buckets with water, preparing for the day’s volunteer group. The Urban Roots farm nestled in East Austin has been in operation for nine years, and their mission is twofold: to use food and farming to both transform the lives of young people and nourish the community.

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“The need that was initially seen was connection to food, an understanding of food and how it’s grown, and opportunity for youth to engage their community in a larger way.”

-Lea Scott, Farm Director, Urban Roots

Urban Roots offers paid internships to 30 youth ages 14-17 each fall and focuses not only on growing beautiful crops, but on cultivating strong life and work skills by selling produce and presenting on organic farming out in the community.

“We have conversations with interns about their lunch that they’re bringing, or we do a veggie of the week that’s in season and provide recipes and encourage the youth to cook with those at home and bring it in a share… you feel more invested in it when you’ve grown it, and then to have a really great meal to share with people, it’s an eye-opening process. And it’s a really great opportunity for people to have ‘food firsts’!” 

Urban Roots doesn’t use any chemicals to grow or protect their crops, and were still able to produce over 25,000 pounds of food last year and donate 46% of it to Austinites in need through partnerships with local hunger relief partners.

Anyone can volunteer at the Urban Roots farm, and it’s different every time! Sometimes a staff member like Lea will lead, other times youth interns will lead the group in the day’s tasks. This week the farm well was down, so we lugged water buckets to the beans and squash by hand, harvested beautiful zucchini and sunburst squash, and even did some au naturale aphid removal – with duct tape! The reward was beautiful, festive squash to take home with us:

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All Urban Roots volunteer times are in our Choose Healthier App and we highly recommend devoting a morning (if not many) to getting back to nature and remembering how beautiful food can be. This is a great activity to bring the kids to, too!

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Urban Roots also has an awesome event coming up. The Youth Food Jam is being held on December 5th and is totally youth-led! “It’s entirely run by them. It’s youth voice, which is a primary piece of the organization. We really want to facilitate a space that’s not only safe but also encouraging for youth to be heard.” 

Thank you for your devotion to nourishing the Austin community and empowering our young people, Urban Roots! We are thrilled to have you in the App!

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