YMCA gets grant to expand urban farming education for children

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Seeds of change are being planted to help youngsters develop urban gardens in Fort Wayne.

A total of $27,000 has been awarded to the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne to help teach their youth the ins and outs of gardening, from seed propagation and maintenance to harvesting and
The money comes from the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.

“One of the things we learned through the pandemic is how many families in Fort Wayne needed access to healthy food,” said Tim Hallman, Director of Christian Emphasis for the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne. “We have YMCAs all throughout the city, and we have land. So how do we use our programs and our facilities and our ground, to help give access to really healthy food, and especially how to teach kids how to grow their own food, and felt like that was really empowering.”

The project called Seeds of Change will start this summer with their youth programming. It will initially start with the Y branches that already have gardens like Renaissance Pointe, the Jackson R. Lehman branch, and the Parkview Family YMCA. The Jorgensen Family branch is also in the process of setting up a garden. The long-term hope is to eventually expand to as many YMCA branches as possible.

“We have a whole list of plans where kids will learn how to identify the right seeds and right soil and how to start them and take care of them, weeding, growing, nurturing, all the way to harvesting and prepping them and enjoying them,” said Hallman.

Eventually, he hopes the program will expand to the YMCA campground Hodell Acres, near where Elmhurst High School used to be.

“We have two acres there and we’re making plans to maybe started urban farm out there to really accelerate the educational opportunities and getting fresh food to more families,” Hallman said.

The program will focus on teaching kids, however, Hallman said they are in need of adult volunteers to help run the program.

“Senior adults, anyone from the community that wants to do it, we want to get to that point and give as many people as possible a chance to grow their own food,” said Hallman. “If they have a skill they want to contribute, we’d love to incorporate them.”

Anyone interested in volunteering or donating to the program, or with any questions, can contact Hallman via email at Tim_Hallman@fwYMCA.org.

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