Student-run greenhouse will help tackle food insecurity in St. Petersburg

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Students in St. Petersburg are getting their hands dirty for a great cause, feeding families in need.

“It’s a thing about [St. Pete] Youth Farm, we have a lot of kids doing powerful stuff,” said Justin Bowman, a senior at St. Petersburg Catholic High School.

USF St. Petersburg joined local high school students to unveil an all-new, fresh, local greenhouse on Monday.

“They’re doing aquaponics working with fish, we also have kids who are going to start doing face painting-[at]-vegetable gardens so people can actually bring nutrients from their community into other communities,” Bowman said.

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“Okra plants, pigeon peas, Cuban oregano which is amazing and pepper plants,” added Carla Bristol, who oversaw and organized meetings leading up to the initiative.

The greenhouse will provide middle and high school students with the opportunity to learn more about innovative food production systems while improving business skills. The unveiling coincided with the June 19 St. Pete Youth Farm celebration which featured students and community members working on the farm, African drums and dances, food and other festivities.

Located in the Thirteenth Street Heights and Cromwell Heights neighborhoods, organizers say the new greenhouse will also contribute to the fight against food insecurity.

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“Just ten blocks from where Walmart and Sweet Bay closed over five years ago,” Bristol said.

“We noticed there was a difference in the available nutrients that we could get in that community,” Bowman added. “There is a problem and we need to solve it and this is one of the solutions we have found.” Students will use gardening to help provide fresh food year-round. “I’ve worked with composts, I’ve worked with potted plants, even harvesting plants and, you know, a chef has to try their own food, so I’ve tasted pretty much everything here… even the habaneros.”

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“We have bags and they fill their bags with, for example, mustard was a big one. Right now we are planting a lot of okra,” Bristol said.

The cool, local greenhouse was made possible by a $25,000 grant from the Ford Motor Company Fund, through their Ford College Community Challenge, and additional funding from local donors and internal grants.

You can contact the youth farm directly by clicking here. The Youth Farm address is behind the Enoch D. Davis Center, 1664 12th Street South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705.

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