Urban Roots: Growing and giving


Lolly Rodriguez, Hays senior, at Urban Roots

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Urban Roots is a non profit organization that inspires, engages, and nourishes the community through food and farming. In a 3-and-a-half acre land UR grows about 25,000 pounds of vegetables each year all grown with organic practices, like cover cropping, crop rotation, and non-chemical pesticides. Forty percent of the produce is donated to food pantries, and 60% is sold at a local farmers market in Austin. Part of Urban Root’s movement is to empower the youth which is why they have paid internship opportunities for teens entering and being in high school.

The only farm-based youth leadership organization in Austin, Urban Roots has been empowering youth and nourishing community for more than 10 years. Urban Roots started in 2008 with just 15 teenagers and one field as a project of another youth development organization, eventually becoming an independent nonprofit in 2011.

On the 3.5 acre farm in East Austin, they serve teens and young adults through paid internships that focus not just on farming, but also on their growth as leaders and good citizens.

Urban Roots believes that empowered youth nourish our community in so many ways. The farm is a safe place where young people can experience first-hand the transformational power of meaningful hard work in order to become healthy, productive, civically-engaged community members. By taking positive risks, like trying a new food for the first time or speaking publicly at a community event, youth have the opportunity to grow as leaders in real time. Each year they provide paid internships and fellowships to 75 young people ages 17-23. They work together with more than 1,000 community volunteers to grow more than 25,000 pounds of fresh food. In addition to their time on the farm, Urban Roots youth do hands-on service with the Hunger Relief Partners and plan and implement capacity projects with local groups, schools, and nonprofits.
From constructing a community garden outside of an apartment complex, to delivering fresh groceries door to door with Meals on Wheels, Urban Roots youth gain a direct understanding of the scale of hunger in this community and take steps to nourish others.
Students interested in the program should visit their website at urbanrootsatx.org. Urban Roots also has volunteer days Tuesdays and Saturdays so people can come out and help plant and grow food for the community.