Garden Recess is a program provided to Elementary School age youth in which they can experience nature and get their hands dirty (if they want) in a garden environment. During recess kids can come and go from the garden at their leisure and are facilitated by adults who are trained in horticulture and childhood education. At this age we believe that children should have a reasonable amount of creative control while exploring the outdoors, and our educators are there to ensure safety, guide with garden tasks, and answer questions. The students help out with everything from preparing beds, deciding what to plant, sowing seeds, weeding, watering, and of course, harvesting. This program also serves as a time to balance the many hours our children spend indoors attending class, and while exploring the garden, they get to develop their relationship with food, the earth, and one another.
Older Youth Farm Employment Program
The Older Youth Farm Employment Program is offered to high school students, and includes an in-depth and structured approach to horticulture, practical cooking methods, as well as interpersonal and self-reflection skills. Through workshops and activities, students are encouraged to share about themselves while being attentive and understanding with their peers. Games that accourage engagement and vulnerability are played, with the notion that everybody is coming together from a diffident background and situation. In a commercial kitchen, students are taught culinary techniques, home economics and important job skills that can be applied to life at home as well as the work place. Family style meals are held every meeting after preparing food, much of the time with produce from one of the gardens. We believe in the importance of physical activity here at HOPE, so after our meals all participants go on a ‘nature walk’ before beginning work at one of our garden locations in Shelton for the rest of the afternoon. The Older Youth Employment Program seeks to encourage youth to adopt a growth mindset so that whatever challenges life throws at them they have the confidence to say, “yes I can.”
5th Grade Farmer Program
This program is currently being reformed.
Middle School Food Justice Program
The middle school food justice class is our most fluid program shifting every year to adjust to the new Project Based Learning Curriculum our partner middle school classroom is tackling. This year the big question is, “Will Science Create a Sustainable Future? HOPE staff work collaboratively with the middle school staff and students to ask important questions, conduct experiments, and hopefully come up with some answers. We will be learning about food waste, composting, and sustainable agriculture.