Harvesting new skills, gardens

By Michelle Costanza

August 9, 2013 Updated Aug 9, 2013 at 6:59 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Some students have been getting lessons outside the classroom this summer as urban agriculture takes off.

Ten local teens participated in VINE's (Volunteers Improving Neighborhood Environments) Summer Youth Program.

The program (SYP) teaches youth professional development, nutrition, and cooking in a community environment.

The six-week employment concluded Thursday night with a celebration to share in the importance of increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

"Food deserts are basically places where food isn't readily available, places where there are mini marts or gas stations but not any grocery store or any produce or vegetables available. People need produce available, it's easy to get here (in the urban garden) and its local, and it tastes good," said Giavanna Townsend, SYP participant.

In addition to planting and upkeep three days a week for six hours each day, the group harvested the vegetables on Fridays. Portions were then separated for shareholders and the farmer's market.

The participants helped develop and maintain five Binghamton gardens in addition to the Urban Farm on Tudor Street. Two are handicap accessible garden beds, and Townsend said the other may be transformed into a community orchard.