May 19, 2016

The Athens Land Trust Is Raising Money to Keep Paying Student Farmers


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Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

The Athens Land Trust is raising funds to keep paying students who participate in the Young Urban Farmers program, which is on the chopping block in the Clarke County School District’s upcoming budget.

The program pays students—many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds—who work in the West Broad Market Garden.

ALT Executive Director Heather Benham said she met with program participants, and students “were not enthused” about receiving class credit rather than money.

“The students felt such a shift would eliminate what is to them one of the most important facets of the program–helping them to understand what is actually entailed in having a job,” Benham wrote in a fundraising email. “According to the students, being paid a wage does much more than put money in their pockets; it enables them to better grasp the privileges and, more importantly, the responsibilities that come along with earning a living.”

CCSD Superintendent Philip Lanoue zeroed out the urban farming program in his proposed fiscal 2017 budget, which is set to be approved next month. The money will be put toward the Great Promise Partnership, a mentoring and job training program focused on manufacturing.

As of this writing, a GoFundMe page has raised $3,205 out of a $40,000 goal. 

In related news, the land trust also received a $75,000 grant from The Kresge Foundation to “develop food-oriented initiatives” in low-income neighborhoods.

"The grant will provide the capacity to spend the time needed to ensure that the community is fully engaged in any future planning process for the neighborhood," Benham said. "ALT also proposes to use the planning grant to determine a thoughtful way to incorporate creative place-making strategies at the farmers market that are informed by and responsive to the culture and heritage of the neighborhood residents and market shoppers."