Meet the Farmers: Seattle Youth Garden Works

Susan and Choega of Seattle Youth Garden Works. Photo: Jordan Lowe.

Susan and Choega of Seattle Youth Garden Works. Photo: Jordan Lowe.

This blog post is the handiwork of SFMA summer intern Jordan Lowe, who will be contributing regularly during the growing season. 

You can find two of the biggest smiles at Wallingford Farmers Market (and possibly for miles) at the Seattle Youth Garden Works vegetable stand. There you'll meet Susan G. (also known as "Suez") and Choega ThundrupSYGW veterans of five and six years, respectively.  A program of Seattle Tilth, SYGW hires youth (ages 16 to 21) to work all aspects of running an urban farm --  from crop planning to market sales. These young people -- many who have come out of homelessness, the foster care system, and the juvenile justice system -- are paid to learn how to grow, harvest, and sell their crops in a professional environment where they have room for advancement and opportunities to build their resumes and leadership skills.

The greens, herbs, carrots, radishes, tomatoes, and other produce that make their way to Wallingford Farmers Market are grown on a half-acre plot at the Center for Urban Horticulture in University Village owned by the University of Washington Botanic Gardens. There, SYGW use a combination of raised beds, greenhouse and hoop house to cultivate their produce. Construction is breaking ground in the coming weeks at Seattle Tilth’s Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands to make room for more vegetables, education, and youth development in 2017.

When you buy a bunch of carrots from Seattle Youth Garden Works, you’re certainly getting a handful of fresh, flavorful, juicy vegetables, packed with vitamins and minerals. But they’re actually packed with much more than that. Although it’s difficult to describe the flavor profile of youth development and true urban agriculture, we know they’ll leave a good taste in your mouth. (Bonus: they accept Fresh Bucks for everything on the table.)