Youth farmers graduate, honored for summer work


Youth farmers graduate, honored for summer work

5:39 p.m. PDT September 2, 2016

When Abigail Jeanseau asks some of her friends where they think vegetables come from, they say, “Um … Safeway?”

Jeanseau knows better.

Jeanseau, 13, worked 200 hours this summer on the Marion Polk Food Share Youth Farm.

From rainbow quinoa to Iko Iko peppers, Jeanseau worked with 15 fellow youth farmers to plant and harvest dozens of fruits and vegetables at the farm at Chemeketa Community College.

Just months ago, the farm was a muddy field.

With help from Chemeketa and Oregon State University, the youth farmers planted more than 40 fruits and vegetables and harvested more than 10,000 pounds of food, 7,000 of which were donated through the food share.

Salem-Keizer students worked at Marion-Polk Food Share youth farm at Chemeketa Community College this summer. Danielle Peterson / Statesman Journal

A ‘graduation’ ceremony was held at the farm Wednesday night to honor the students.

“Our goals is to make sure everyone in the community is fed healthy, nutritious food every day,” said Rick Gaupo, president of the food share . “And we want our kids (to feel) a sense of accomplishment … (to grow) up caring about one another.

“The farm does all of that.”

As the students collected their certificates Wednesday night, they each shared their favorite thing about working on the farm.

While some picked their favorite vegetables to grow or recounted funny memories, the overall theme was that they found and created a sense of community and appreciation for food.

Justine Colby said her favorite thing was “seeing all the things we could make here with our own hands.”

Brian Jeanseau, Abigail’s father, said Abigail has been involved in band for about five years, but this year she is stopping her band career to have time to dedicate to the farm.

“I won’t be able to be at the farm as much during the year because I’ll be in school, but I will on Wednesday’s and Saturday’s … as much as I can,” Jeanseau said.

“I love being out in nature and it’s really important to me to know where my food comes from,” she said. “This is the type of environment I would want kids to be taught in.”

Contact Natalie Pate at, 503-399-6745, or follow on Twitter @Nataliempate

Summer of 2016 youth farm graduates:

  • Nicole Barbuch
  • Andrew Bond
  • Ben Bond
  • Chris Botkin
  • Salvador Casillas
  • Justine Colby
  • Juan Correa
  • Michael Crain
  • Aaliyah Fitzke
  • Kevin Garcia
  • Wesley Gutierrez
  • Logan Hastings
  • Abigail Jeanseau
  • Hailey Lanham
  • Christopher Macias
  • Preston Pearson

Published by Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is a freelance journalist and author based in Salem, Oregon. She wrote about education for more than seven years at the Statesman Journal and now covers education and other topics throughout the Pacific Northwest. She is originally from Colorado and earned her B.A. in Politics and French from Willamette University.

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