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August 10, 2010

Youth Academy Organic Gardeners

Fresh picked garlic planted way back in the winter, bright red tomatoes, and sweet, juicy strawberries, these are just a few of the garden-fresh goodies that youth academy students are bringing home from the organic garden here at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS).

The Youth Academy Program here at SFBFS accommodates 16 children from first to sixth grade for after-school tutoring and activities and, currently, a summer program. This summer we are happy to have volunteer teacher Venita Sivamani to help lead lessons in the garden. These engaging lessons center on sustainable environmental practices and principles such as food webs, ecosystems, habitat loss, plant life cycles, composting/vermiculture, pollution, garden animals and pesticides and herbicides. After engaging in the lesson the youth go into the garden with Carrie, our Adult Education Program Manager, who also oversees all garden activities. In the garden they plant, weed, compost and harvest. By getting their hands dirty, so to speak, the youth get a real feel for what it takes to produce food and they begin to understand and appreciate the many layers of the intricate web of life that sustains us and all creatures.

Volunteer teacher Venita Sivamani is happy to share these lessons with the children. A graduate of UC Davis with a degree in human development and education, Miss Venita now has two years of teaching experience under her belt through her work with Teach for America. In her experience as an undergrad she learned how much kids lack education in environmental principles and issues. Her hope for the program is that the youth take the knowledge and know-how home with them to their families and communities and put into practice what they learn here. We are grateful to have dedicated and passionate volunteers like Venita at SFBFS every day, enriching the programs that serve our community.

For more information about Youth Academy or to become a volunteer check out our website,

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