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How Do You Make It “Sticky”?

As the room filled with strangers from around the country, Cassi and Zeke, both high school seniors who are also Root Crew members with The Food Project, got up to lead.

It was the first day of The Food Project’s Winter Institute, a three-day training held on February 6-8 for other organizations, and Zeke kicked things off. “Think of a word that’s most important to you. Come up to the board, write the word and tell us why. I’ll start.

“Nike. Because their call is ‘Just do it’ and I love that. I like telling myself ‘Why do I want to wait till tomorrow? Just do it right now. It makes me think of all the things I can do, all the things I want to do.”

Then the others went up. Hope. Spontaneity. Connection. Yes.

“People,” said Cassi. “Because of so many of the words you guys have already put up here, it’s the same reason my word is people. I love meeting someone by chance, or talking to someone and really connecting with them. People is also why I love being a part of The Food Project.”

The message was loud and clear: youth have powerful voices and The Food Project creates increasingly responsible roles for them to take on more initiative and responsibility.

Institute attendees came from as near as Greater Boston, Connecticut and Maine and as far as Virginia and Alaska. They had come to learn the art and science of developing multi-faceted youth programs that are also grounded in a sustainable farming and food access mission. 

In the words of Cindy Davenport, our Director of Programming and Institutional Learning, it’s all about making sure what we do at The Food Project is “sticky.” That is, “we want the core learning we’re doing to take hold of the youth, take hold in their lives, in the organization, in the community, in the larger world.”

One example of this is how all of The Food Project’s farms are near public transit—by design. This means youth can foster independence by getting there on their own.

The next day, as another youth led Institute attendees in a tour of The Food Project’s urban farm and greenhouse in Dorchester, Zeke walked alongside, talking about his plans for the future. Framingham State in the fall. Before that, New York City in the spring. “I’m going to go and build affordable housing.” 


Lead photo courtesy of Nancy Conrad, Uphams Corner News

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