LINCOLN (CBS) – It Happens Here in Lincoln. Seventeen miles west of Boston, it is home to the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum and the home of famed German architect Walter Gropius. Lincoln is also where Paul Revere was briefly held captive during his famous midnight ride.
Not far from that historic spot, teens from around Greater Boston are getting their hands dirty to help tackle a major social problem.
“We are learning a lot about food insecurity and how a lot of families don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” said Tate Gordon of Winchester.
Gordon is working for The Food Project, a non-profit that hires teens from diverse backgrounds each summer. They learn sustainable farming practices and help grow 200,000 pounds of food every year for under-served communities.
“The Food Project provides and awesome opportunity to come out here and work on the farm and also learn how the world works,” said Gordon’s supervisor and Food Project Alum, J.P. Pagan.
Pagan leads Gordon and a group of five other teens on what’s called the root crew. They are program veterans and do a lot of the heavy lifting.
When we caught up with them, they were harvesting patty pan squash and cucumbers. The seed crew is made up of younger kids who are new to the program.
They work on tasks like weeding when they are not busy in workshops learning about social justice issues.
The sun is hot and the work is hard, but you won’t hear them complaining. These kids develop strong bonds and seem to have fun working the fields together.
They say they’ve also learned a lot about differing points of view because of the racial and socio-economic diversity of the crew members.
The work is not all focused on the farm. Part of the Food Project’s mission is to improve access to healthy foods in the inner city, so the teens sell their vegetables at a farmer’s market in Roxbury.
They also reach out to corner stores to encourage owners to carry what they grow, even offering a discount to families who receive food assistance.
“If you go to a corner store, the cheapest thing there is a bag of chips, so we are trying to get healthy foods into these diets, rather than whatever is cheapest,” Gordon said.
They also serve their food at a number of hunger relief organizations around the state.
Pagan, who is now 21, has been with The Food Project since he was 14, and believes this program has been an important part of shaping who he is.
“The relationships that I have built with these people are forever, this is like my second home,” he said.