South Valley Youth Taking Part In Local Food System

On August 29, I had the chance to visit the RFK farm/garden out-of-school time program located on Isleta near the Shadyside park. We were greeted by Zia Martinez, the RFK Farm to School Manager/ Youth Conservation Corps Program Coordinator, which works to have healthy outdoor settings, and they talked to us about the summer program they are currently overseeing and coordinating. The summer program starts in spring and runs until October. This program is from 3:30-7:30pm and has various workshops/activities for the kids each week. This program’s purpose is to support and contribute to the community while also helping students gain a wide range of alternative skills and knowledge. The farm gets applications from students mostly from RFK and the Southwest Education Partners for Training, which provides NM with a workforce training strategy to get employers the staff they will need to build new enterprises, to participate in the farm. The farm holds interviews and gets about 20 kids to work at the farm. These kids get paid and work Monday thru Thursday at the farm and also get to participate in an array of activities. This farm program is funded through a grant. Zia noted that “70% of the funding goes to student wages.”  It was very nice to hear about the different things in this program, for example “resume workshops, mental health lessons, and in the future, financial literacy lessons” are just some of the topics that the program teaches. While visiting we were able to observe their beekeeping class which was very interactive with students. They seemed to be very engaged and excited to help out with the beekeeping maintenance. The summer program is all about professional development which makes it an amazing program to be a part of. It is something that provides support and a safe space for kids to learn which makes it very interactive. This program is something I would have definitely wanted to be a part of while in school because you learn so much and are welcomed with the best people.