Onions. Beets. Chard. Cantaloupe. Eggs. Zucchini. Cucumber. Green beans. Leeks. Kale. Sunflowers. Corn. Eggs.
All this is on sale this summer at the Corvallis School District’s Urban Farm program’s market stand. During the school year the Urban Farm program, located in the same building as College Hill High School, gives local students struggling in traditional classrooms an environment where they can learn through hands on work on the farm while studying curriculum centered on agriculture.
And during the summer it gives a few students something else: a job.
Four students, a mixture of former Urban Farm program students and College Hill students, have been hired to come to the farm Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to care for it and on Fridays operate the stand from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at its location behind College Hill.
Students weed, water plants, harvest crops and feed the urban farm’s flock of chickens.
Kayley Martinez, who will start her junior year at College Hill this fall, said having the job is wonderful.
“It opens up a lot of doors for me. ... it’s more job experience I can put on my resume. I’ve hoped to apply for a job at a garden center,” she said.
Martinez, who took College Hill’s horticulture class last year, said she likes the hands-on work.
“A lot of jobs you can get if you are our age and don’t have a lot of experience are like fast food and unpleasant. Here you are in a place you already know and it’s pleasant,” she said.
Martinez added that most of the crops for sale started as plants that students in the horticulture class or urban farm program started from seed, and harvesting them is very rewarding.
“To see them get so big and produce so much, you’re almost proud of the plant,” Martinez said.
The students started the summer bringing in about $70 a week from the stand, but as more plants have started producing later in the summer, they’ve now gone to around $120 a week.
Ciera Yarbrough, who will be starting her senior year at College Hill in the fall, said the stand is so popular with neighbors that people line up for their opening, often to buy eggs, which sell out quickly.
Yarbrough said for her the biggest benefit of working at the stand is learning how to be part of a team, something that is a challenge for her because she’s “not the best at socializing.”
She said she’s liked being at College Hill because it is a supportive environment and she gets to do gardening.
“I have a blast here. I don’t wake up and say ‘I don’t want to go to school,’” Yarbrough said.
Martinez said the school has changed her life because she had been struggling in school, failing classes and dropping out by the end of each school year before she came to College Hill. However, she’s gotten back on track at the school.
“When I came here it was everything I hoped for and more,” she said.
And, Martinez said, it’s pretty great getting paid to garden.
“It’s really nice, instead of sitting on my butt all summer, which I know I would be doing otherwise,” she said.
The Urban Farm program will start its third year in September.