The VINES Grow Binghamton program recently completed its first year employing youth throughout the year, adding in a spring and fall session in addition to the traditional summer session. Also, with the slight easing of covid restrictions, the summer session was back up to 14 awesome, hard working youth, one of the highlights at VINES this year.
The Grow Binghamton Summer Crew grew food this summer at the VINES Binghamton Urban Farm and the CHOW Farm that was donated or sold into the community through markets and Farm Share. “I thought we would just be planting,” first year crew member Lane said, “I didn’t think about weeding, harvesting or bugs.” Despite the bugs and the sweltering temperatures the area felt this summer the 2021 crew had a great season and made some great bonds. “The first day no one really talked, but by the end, everyone was genuinely friends,” crew leader Robert said.
During their season the youth didn't only tend to produce. They were also learning financial literacy skills from S.E.E.D. Planning Group, Visions Federal Credit Union and stress management and mental wellness techniques from Alexis Fumi. Weekly field trips included a trip to Bleuet Hill Farm, JADA Hill Farm and Binghamton University Acres. The summer group finished their six weeks on Friday, August 13th.
A smaller group of six youth returned for the fall session in late September. “You get to know people a lot more,” crew leader, Robert, said, “because the program is so much smaller in the fall.” This autumn they worked closely with the Build a Garden project, constructing raised garden beds in the yards of community members who have mobility issues or other barriers to accessing fresh food. As well, they helped finish up projects on the Urban Farm, like the perennial garden and plantings around the new pergola, and helped with the construction of VINES’ 20th and 21st community gardens in Binghamton and Endicott.
“VINES is where my heart is,” crew member Evelyn said at the end of the fall session. “It’s a nice place where I can come back to, where everyone is understanding.” Thank you to everyone who helps create this kind of feeling at VINES, who supports VINES and makes this, and our other important programs, possible.