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Northern Virginia farm looks to grow a new crop of farmers

WJLA – Washington D.C. logo WJLA – Washington D.C. 10/25/2021 Justin Hinton
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A farm in Northern Virginia is looking to grow a new crop of farmers through its Live, Eat, Grow Internship program.

Under the program through Arcadia Farm, high school student interns commit 80 hours to learn gardening, communication, and leadership skills through hands-on experience at Arcadia Farm as well as at partner gardens in the Route 1 area.

The program's outreach and education manager says the students learn more than just gardening.

"You learn a bunch of soft skills like patience and resilience and community through working in the garden and so we hope that all of these little skills will come in handy and they'll be able to utilize them as well," said Juan Pablo Echeverria.

The program has partnered with other organizations to create five school gardens and two community gardens.

One of those community gardens is at the Gum Springs Community Center.

"To give back to the community and be healthy," said Trinity, 14, one of the interns when asked about why she wanted to participate.

The community garden also serves as a way to connect different generations.

Vivian Brown is one of the community gardeners.

She spends several days a week in the garden.

"It means a lot to me. It gives me something to do," said Brown.

"We can always learn from our elders and so hopefully that's an added benefit for the students and I think the seniors might also feel rejuvenated by spending some time with some teenagers," said Echeverria.

"It's fun, but like I said, she's very strict. Very old school," said Zeriah, 14, another intern who also happens to be the niece of Brown.

Brown grew up growing her own food in South Carolina and knows the importance of having access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

"If everybody would work together, then they wouldn't have to go to the store. They can get it right here," she said.

Then, they can replace what they would buy with what they can grow in their own backyard.

It's a cost-saving option taught to high schoolers to create a nutritious and sustainable future.

"People wanting to access fresh vegetables is sometimes not the most affordable thing to do, so if you can supplement your food with some stuff that you're growing in your backyard or in your community garden, can really have an impact in your health and nutrition," said Echeverria.

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