Growth is one of the core values of 5 Loaves Farm; that inside of all of us there has been planted hopes and dreams that we were created to pursue and grow towards. Over the past four weeks, we have had eight youth from our neighborhood working on the farm, and in the process of them helping the farm to grow, hopefully this experience has been helping them grow towards their goals and dreams.
Daily we engage the youth in games, activities, and conversations that get them thinking about what strengths they have to share with others and where they might need to ask for help and grow stronger. Through the 716 Ministries Work Readiness Program, each youth employee is assigned an adult coach that helps them dig deeper into these questions, and helps them practice communicating clearly what are their strengths and goals. This summer, we have also had local artist, Karen Carlton, working once a week with the youth that are interested in improving their visual arts skills. She helped them matte and frame photographs, create canvas paintings, or sketch charcoal drawings; many of which were included in our Art on the Farm event, and some of them can be bid on in our online auction until August 15th.We also want to invest in them beyond just their time at the farm. The Work Readiness Program prepares youth for future jobs by creating resumes and developing interview skills. With the help of Angela & Rory Diamond, this summer, the 5 Loaves Farmhouse has been used as an incubator for youth enterprises, like Taste & See Creamery, teaching valuable lessons in entrepreneurship and business development. Just last week, two of the youth connected with the farm led a workshop on building diverse friendships as a part of 4-H’s Tomorrow’s Leaders Conference. We attend their sporting events and cheer on their athletic success. We take them to other urban farms and events around the city to show them the exciting opportunities our city possesses for them. We take them on hikes and camping trips to help them explore new parts of the world, and expand their understanding of what’s possible for them.In all of this, our staff and adult volunteers grow too. Teaching others is one of the best ways for us to learn as well. As we teach them to pursue their goals, as we encourage them to celebrate their strengths and learn how to ask for help when needed, as we explore our city and world together, areas are illuminated in our own lives where we need to grow as well.So I would encourage any of you that want to be a part of this growth, both for the youth of our neighborhood and in your own life, to come and be a part of this work at 5 Loaves Farm. Coming to our Contemplation & Cultivation group on Saturdays from 10am-1pm is a great time to get to work alongside our youth, have conversations, and spur on growth. Also, volunteering with 716 Ministries Work Readiness Program as a coach and mentor is a great way to invest in the growth of others.
5 Loaves Farm is all about growing good things in our neighborhood, from beautiful flowers, to healthy foods, to flourishing relationships between neighbors in our community. So again, we encourage you to step out and join us in growing these good things right here on the West Side of Buffalo, and we will all get to reap a bountiful harvest of rewards!