Everyone needs food, but across America, the knowledge of critical farming skills is being lost on the next generation. There’s not only an absence of knowledge for how our food supply works, but there’s also a lack of understanding regarding identifying healthy foods, cooking skills and other critical competencies.
Youth organizations across America work to develop the next generation of American leaders. But is there a way that they can help meet the critical need while still focusing on helping youth become responsible citizens and develop career skills?
In this blog, we’ll examine how container farms can help youth organizations solve problems of childhood food insecurity and encourage youth to have a tangible impact on their local communities.
A Persistent Produce Problem
It’s no secret that Americans, and especially American kids, are being left behind when it comes to food nutrition.
According to a study from the National Institutes of Health, less than 1% of America’s youth consumes an ideal-quality diet filled with fruits, vegetables and non-processed foods.
Older youth are even worse off – with 67% of Americans aged 12-19 eating poor quality diets. Additionally, an increase in sodium intake threatens to reduce the benefits of American youth consuming less sugar than they did in 2015.
In a world where fast food companies run endless ads on social media, where can kids turn to learn more about healthy living? There are a few organizations that are working to solve this problem, and help kids develop skills that will be essential for their professional careers, like the Ceres Community Project, which uses organic produce to make meals for medical patients who might not have the time to cook healthy meals for themselves.
Organizations like that can address the problems facing today’s youth with ambitious projects that are able to assist their project goals, building up young people and instilling in them the confidence to set and achieve goals of their own.
How Can Container Farms Help Youth Organizations Build Up the Next Generation?
The next generation of Americans will need several skillsets to succeed. They’ll need to have the confidence that their work will be beneficial to their communities, the diligence to follow through on challenging projects, and the emotional regulation to communicate their needs and desires in a healthy way.
Container farms can help youth develop these skills, while also providing a valuable service to the local community. In many urban areas, food deserts can present seemingly insurmountable challenges to fighting childhood health risks like obesity, or an abundance of processed foods, sugar, sodium and fat.
Because of our modern commercial agriculture, we have divorced our communities from the farmers that provide them with produce. This has stretched supply chains too far, resulting in crops arriving at grocery stores with significantly less nutrients than if the crop was harvested locally. If kids can not only gain agricultural skills, but also give back to their community in a meaningful way, it will inspire them to take further action to make the world a better place.
The Benefits of Container Farms for Youth Outreach
While there are many benefits of container farms, there are three distinct advantages that container farms offer that make them essential to providing youth with valuable skills and experience that will follow them for a lifetime.
1. Provide Critical Skills in Agriculture/STEM Fields
Container farms grow crops hydroponically, which means that they grow without soil, in water. This technology has developed quickly alongside advances in commercial agriculture.
If students are going to pursue a career in agriculture, the understanding of plant biology that comes from working inside a container farm will serve them well even if they work in traditional agriculture.
If students end up working in another STEM field, there’s an abundance of skills that they can take with them into their careers. From data collection to food safety, social media skills and more, the benefits of working in a container farm will help them in developing career skills that can provide them with stability in adulthood.
2. Help Youth Interact with Growing Plants in a Safe Environment
Outdoor agricultural production can be a chemical-intensive experience. From pesticides to herbicides and more, it can be difficult for kids to grow crops in a safe environment, free of chemical products. Because container farms are indoors, it’s easier to enact pest control in a safe way.
That means that if pest-control measures must be taken, organic solutions like neem oil can be used instead of more intensive chemical products.
This creates a safe space for youth to interact with plants without fear of exposing themselves to dangerous chemicals.
3. Harvest Nutrient-Rich Produce for Other Community Projects
Youth organizations typically have a multifaceted approach to their work. Not only do they want to build up the next generation with valuable skills, but they also want to cultivate a desire to support the local community and give back.
A great way to do that is to use the produce from a container farm to donate to organizations that feed the hungry or sell them at a farmer’s market to raise money for other charitable goals. Locally produced, high-quality produce is in demand around the country, but identifying what crops will work best for your organization will help the container farm further your objectives.
How You Can Provide Support for Local Youth Organizations with a Container Farm
Organizations serve a wide range of youth across the country and have different needs depending on their goals and objectives. Look to sites like United Way to identify charitable organizations in your area that serve the youth population. Some organizations may be able to use container farms as a fundraising tool, or as a more integrated part of their organization’s community work.
Next, contact us, and we can address any questions you may have about how the container farm works, what it requires to operate, and other tips for running a successful container farm. We can provide you with a quote, and then work with you to get the container farm where it needs to go.
With your help, we can assist the organizations that serve our communities and make them better places to live and work.