We Need More Inner-City Community Farms

By: Jacob Charest

I have been working at Radix for three months. I have helped plant gardens to allow the community to pick vegetables so they could feed their families healthy meals. Often times, young children would stop by and learn about animals. Many had never seen a chicken or a goose. We taught them to not just think about humans and our needs, but to place themselves in a bigger picture which included nature and animals and the part we played in it. When the kids learned where their food came from, they were interested in the work it took to harvest it. They then invested in helping.

My fondest memory involved walking through Radix’s large wooden doors, into their 20-foot-by-60-foot solar greenhouse, and wandered with fascination through what looked like a tropical rainforest, with passion flower vines climbing the walls, gardening trays sprouting life everywhere, and a koi and catfish pond which created manure to nourish the willow tree and watercress nearby. (My favorite greenhouse treat was the peppers.) Me and the other teen employees stood around a tiny table to learn with a nutritionist how to cook using only the vegetables we made with our hands. “Pay attention to the colors,” she said, pointing to the sweet potatoes and lemons. “Because each hue helps a certain part of your body.” We mashed the potatoes, rolled them out, cut them into chunks and boiled them, making sweet potato pasta.

The reason places like Radix are important is because they put a lot of effort into helping the community become a better place. We are currently working to build a community compost bin so the public has the option to help out and get involved in taking care of the city’s environment. The teenagers are teaching young kids how some of the simplest things have some of the sweetest flavors, as we tap trees for their sap and boil it to make maple syrup. We are preparing for Earth day by making to-go plant beds, so seeking minds can make their own gardens. I hope more minds can see the bigger picture the way the children do, recognizing the part we all play in our environments, and invest in helping too.


Jacob Charest is a high-school student employed through Radix’s youth employment program.

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