By Adams Carroll, AmeriCorps VISTA Member, Urban Agriculture Program -
Last week we were fortunate to have two esteemed visitors to Youth Service Camp at the Hands On Nashville Urban Farm. Our friends at Nashville Originals organized cooking demonstrations for our campers led by Chef Kristin Beringson of the Holland House Bar and Refuge and Chef Tony Galzin of Flyte World Dining and Wine. Both chefs came with simple, tasty recipes highlighting the astounding seasonal flavors of the produce the campers helped to grow this summer. I hope a few of our campers are inspired to try these recipes at home! Several of the campers told me they tried squash for the first time in these dishes… and they liked it!
Our campers were impressed by our guest chefs’ knife skills and infectious love for their craft. I was too, but something else really moved me. I was so inspired by the volunteer spirit that our guests exhibited. It was clear to me that they both are driven to make our community a more vibrant place to live through their service. In sharing their skills and experience in a simple cooking demonstration, these chefs did much more than toss together a tasty garden salad. They also modeled positive behavior and served as role models for our campers. I won’t be surprised if, 10 years from now, Nashville’s hottest new chef shares her story of being inspired to choose her profession because of Chef Beringson and Galzin’s
service last week.
After his demonstration, I remarked to Chef Galzin that he did a really good job of engaging his youth audience during his demonstration (more photos here). He told me that as the oldest of four brothers, he learned early on how to maintain young peoples’ attention levels. However, another experience uniquely prepared him to be a good role model for young people at the Urban Farm.
Before moving to Nashville, Chef Galzin volunteered with the Spark Program in Chicago, which connects hundreds of students with apprenticeships in their dream field. It was clear to me that Chef Galzin’s experience working as a mentor with Spark taught him how to bring out the best in our youth by nurturing their curiosity and giving them opportunities to use their ingenuity, creativity, and skills to overcome challenges. I am of the opinion that our society chronically underestimates the abilities of youth. Programs like Spark give kids an opportunity to prove to themselves and the world that they are able to accomplish great things.
All of this got me thinking about the principles of positive youth development – principles I had in mind when developing the curriculum for our Youth Service Camp and Apprenticeship program (Farmer Josh introduced the Apprentices back in June). I wanted to make sure that we weren’t just creating a program to keep kids busy between school semesters, but rather one that is an opportunity for young people to live purposefully by contributing to our community in meaningful ways and building valuable life skills.
If you have ever despaired for the future of this world, then I challenge you to take note of the amazing things our youth apprentices and campers have been able to accomplish when asked to take an active role in creating their experiences in an environment that is supportive and safe. Together, these young people have turned five acres of floodway into a productive, beautiful Urban Farm that grows healthy produce for members of our community who need it most. Trust me, our future is in good hands!
A native Nashvillian, Adams Carroll serves as AmeriCorps VISTA Member for HON’s Urban Agriculture Program. He oversees the development of the Urban Farm Apprenticeship and Summer Youth Service Camp program. A bicycling enthusiast and dedicated bike commuter, Adams is a volunteer with Walk/Bike Nashville, the Oasis Center, and Free Bike Shop. His longest bike ride? 3,500 miles across 14 states.