Oakridge Community Facility is one of eight DCYF-operated least-restrictive community facilities. In these settings, young people gain community employment skills, strengthen family connections through enhanced visitation and attend school in the community.
Twelve youth from Oakridge have been volunteering Thursday mornings at Franklin Pierce Farm as part of their participation in AJAC’s Manufacturing Academy. Volunteering at the farm complements what the young men are learning at the academy through developing critical leadership and teamwork skills. Their volunteer work also provides an opportunity to explore the field of agriculture and simultaneously give back to the community.
Every day, the youth gather outside the greenhouse to learn their assignments for the day. During the day, they learn about the food chain and how it relates to social justice as well as planting, harvesting, supply and demand. They also plant crops and harvest produce at the farm – everything from picking peppers and plucking apples to turning beds and planting lettuce. The food they harvest is donated to local schools and food banks, and youth also get to take a box of vegetables back to the facility for meals.
“I grew up struggling to get food. I had to fight for food,” said Ricardo, an Oakridge resident. “Knowing I’m giving back to the people who need the food…it feels pretty good to know I’m helping people out who are going through basically the same things I was going through when I was younger.”
See these young men in action and describing their experience on the farm in this short video.