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Urban Delights program teaches teens, college students how to grow, sell fresh produce

Ellen Abbott
WRVO Public Media
Karisa Kirby sells food as part of the Urban Delights program.

A learning farm is now selling fruits and vegetables at Syracuse’s Downtown Farmers Market.

Ira Dancil, 16, sold huge zucchini and crisp greens at the Urban Delights Farm Youth Stand, that now sets up shop at the weekly market. Growing and selling produce has given the Syracuse City School District student, a new perspective about food.

"I like the planting part," Dancil said. "It gives me a new experience, how to plant. I want to have my own garden in my own home."

Teens and college students home for the summer tend the community garden on Syracuse’s south side, handling the pricing, marketing and management of the retail business. It has been more than a learning experience for 20-year-old Mohammed Abbi.

"It changes the way I eat and stuff; more healthier,” Abbi said.

And while offering these youth experience in the growing and business side of food, it also helps a community that Karisa Kirby said looks like a food desert.

"There’s a lack of fresh produce; access to it," Kirby said. "A lot of people don’t know healthy options, and don’t know they need fresh fruits and vegetables each day. They’d rather go the cheap way out and go to the corner store, because that's what they’re used to.”

Kirby said it has been a great learning opportunity for her.

"It’s cool to know when we take care of these things, it’s like our babies," Kirby said. "So we watch them grow, and the zucchini every year, they get so big. It’s so cool.”

The project operates farm stands at several inner city locations.