2018 Lessons Learned

With each season, our Program Developers and Executive Director learn more about what activities, policies and trainings the youth thrive in or reject. During the season, staff meet to discuss what immediate changes can or should be made to provide a better learning environment for the Garden Crew, however some qualities are so integrated into the program that they are difficult to modify during the season. At the end of the season, Program Developer and the Executive Director meet to completely dissect what worked and what didn’t, and determine how to rebuild the program into something that will create better outcomes for 2019. Below are some lessons we’ve learned from this season that will influence modifications we’ll be making for next season.

Professional Development Training Improvements

  • Refrain from using the term ‘workshop’, since it sounds too casual and isn’t a term the youth will hear in future employment. Use the term ‘training’ or ‘professional development’.

  • Before each training, each youth will review the provided desired outcomes and reflect on how these outcomes relate to their personal career goals and necessary skills.

  • After each training, reflect on what was learned, further questions and what ideas need elaboration or reiteration.

  • Make sure all trainings relate closely to the job and food production, otherwise there isn’t the incentive to listen and learn the material. Having trainings directly related gives youth the opportunity to continuously practice the new skills on the job until they are thoroughly learned.

  • Repeat trainings until they’re fully absorbed and utilized.

Programmatic Improvements

  • During orientation, show each Crew Member the curriculum so they fully understand the program and can clarify any questions/concerns before diving in to work.

  • More COOKING! Ensure the Garden Crew has full comprehension and appreciation for preparing food from seed to plate. Preparing food will give the Crew Members more to look forward to and more to be proud of when they can graduate from the program not only knowing how to grow food, but also know a variety of ways to prepare the produce they grew.

  • Facilitate more team development at beginning of the season. This is to improve workplace relationships, communication and demeanor. Having strong and healthy workplace relationships will also provide an incentive, besides payment, to come to work and work hard.

  • Create methods to smoothly transition new Crew Members into the group if they join the program later in the season. It is not uncommon for Crew Members to join the team later in the season and we want to ensure they feel like part of the team as soon as possible.

  • Have an end goal for the season (i.e. poundage, cooking demonstrations, community presentation)

    • Keep Crew motivated to learn new skills by giving them a project or goal to work toward.

    • Grow at least 750 pounds for next year!

    • Find a way for Crew to interact more with the people receiving the food through donations so they can see the impact of their work.

    • Possibly learn cooking skills, get their food handlers permit and have them cook the end of the season meal for our fundraiser.

    • Possibly partner with a commercial kitchen and create a value added product to sell.

  • Modify personal plots

    • We provide each Crew Member with a raised bed to grow food to take home. Here, they get to experiment and practice the skills they’ve learned from the Garden Educator.

    • We want to ensure these plots are fully utilized next season, so we will provide more structure and time to work on them, and will be more strict about neglecting the plots.

General Improvements

  • Find more accessible bathrooms! Does anyone have a connection with Honey Bucket?

  • Create more structure for the Crew Members