Tucson Village Farm, a working urban farm built by and for the youth of the Tucson community, was recognized on Wednesday for its innovative approach to nutrition education and focus on urban youth from all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds when National 4-H Council President and CEO Jennifer Sirangelo and Arizona 4-H Executives honored the farm with a visit to kick off National Nutrition Month.
Sirangelo recognized the farm as a model program for the nation in helping to educate students about sustainability while also serving as a unique community model for fostering economic development. Tucson Village Farm is a program of the University of Arizona's Cooperative Extension, part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“I am thrilled to come to Tucson to recognize the incredible work of all the people that are behind the success of the Tucson Village Farm,” Sirangelo said. “I’m here as part of our commitment to bring attention to the power of 4-H programs, such as the Tucson Village Farm, to change lives. There is an urgent need for all of us to invest in our youth, and the Tucson Village Farm is a phenomenal example of the potential of these investments.”
Sirangelo was joined by representatives from the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and UA Cooperative Extension, including Jeff Silvertooth, associate dean and director of Cooperative Extension and economic development in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Kirk Astroth, Arizona 4-H youth development director in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Bob Shogren and Erica Schwartzmann of the Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism.
At the event, kindergarten students went through a series of learning stations about working on the farm, planting, harvesting, whole grain discovery, worm exploration and seed saving.
Tucson high school students trained as “4-H Healthy Living Ambassadors” led the educational program with the kindergarten students and then talked with officials and executives from the governor’s office and 4-H about opportunities for replicating the program in other cities across the country.
A 10-year longitudinal study conducted by Tufts University and released in December shows that the 4-H experience is transformational. The study found that 4-H youth are two times more likely than their peers to make healthy choices and study science.
4-H’ers also are more civically active and understand the value of giving back, with the study finding that young people involved with 4-H are four times more likely to contribute to their communities.
Tucson Village Farm is designed to connect young people to a healthy food system by teaching them to grow and prepare fresh food and empower them to make healthy food choices.
The farm is a seed-to-table program designed to reconnect young people to a healthy food system, teach them how to grow and prepare fresh food and empower them to make healthy life choices. To date, the farm has served more than 22,300 children and adults from across Tucson and the state of Arizona.