Youth farmers graduate, honored for summer work

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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 npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 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
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Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is the education reporter for the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. Natalie has previously worked for organizations and publications such as Direct Relief International, Waging Non-Violence, and Amnesty International USA. She has had stories published with USA Today, Associated Press and Ozy, among others. Natalie earned her B.A. in Politics and French and Francophone Studies (FFS) from Willamette University. During her studies, she wrote a Politics thesis titled, "No One is Dying: How and Why the U.S. Federal Government Avoids Executing Prisoners on Federal Death Row" and an FFS thesis, in French, on cannibalism in the 16th and 17th centuries. Natalie is a journalist, performer, traveler, fiction writer and more. She is working to publish her dystopian novella, "Choice," which follows a man during 24 hours in solitary confinement for allegedly committing murder. For more information on Natalie visit www.about.me/natalie_pate, like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist, or follow Natalie on Twitter (@Nataliempate) or Tumblr (Nataliempate blog "In the Shoes of a Journalist"). Her reporting with the Statesman Journal can also be found at www.StatesmanJournal.com.

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