In the summer of 2012 Catskill Mountainkeeper launched the Edible Garden Youth Employment Program in partnership with Sullivan County’s Center for Workforce Development. This program initially offered high school students paid summer employment and the opportunity to participate in and learn about sustainable food production. The program has evolved, with the jobs now targeting college-aged students interested in exploring career opportunities in the agricultural and food sectors. Summer hires are responsible for maintaining the school gardens over the summer while schools are out of session, and participate in on-farm workdays and educational programs based on food and nutrition. They also help transport the fresh produce from the gardens to local food pantries and grocers.
Supplemental job training also helps to prepare the students to pursue full or part time employment on area farms and furthers their knowledge about the opportunities present in local agriculture, as well as the benefit of increased food and agricultural businesses to the region’s economic future.
From 2012 to 2014 a total of 16 students were hired from four Sullivan County school districts – including Sullivan West, Roscoe, Monticello, and Liberty – Sullivan County B.O.C.E.S.