ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Helping bridge the divide in South St. Pete's food desert, is a group of teens and some passionate volunteers hoping to make a difference.
"So, given the fact that 10 blocks away from where we're standing right now, two grocery stores closed four years ago, and there hasn't been a replacement. I think initiatives such as this and the initiative that the city started to allow you to not just grow, but sell food in your own front yard. I think those initiatives are allowing us to really provide fresh health healthy options back to the community," explains Carla Bristol with the St. Pete Youth Farm.
The goal of the St. Pete Youth Farm is not just about providing fresh fruits and vegetables to those in the area, it's also education. They are hoping to educate kids on composting, gardening, and how to eat healthy.
Bristol says, "So the idea is that our young people will learn how to grow food in multiple ways. So whether it's microgreens raised beds, hydroponics. So, then they can decide in the future, you know, how do they want to grow food for their families? And how do we want to keep this legacy of having food and nutrition have a local component to it? I think that's part of what we're solving and what is important about the work we're doing here."
Right now, anyone can stop by the farm and get fresh food on a donation-only basis. The farm doesn't have refrigeration at this time and they're always harvesting so they encourage people to stop by.
"It's helpful to us if you pass by the farm and come help yourself to some of what we're growing fresh. And I think that's part of the key of it is that, you know, you didn't it didn't have to come from Georgia. It didn't come from a whole other country. It's right here in your neighborhood," explains Bristol.
While growing fruits and vegetables is extremely important, the Youth Farm is also about giving back.
This summer, after a shortage of bikes due to COVID-19, they're asking for donations of both new and used bikes.
"There's a shortage in bikes. I don't know if anybody realizes this yet, at a time when we're we are creating a more bikable city. So the idea is we have all these young people, not only is there a shortage of bikes, but we recognize that this is a period to where incomes are strained, right? There was a lot of job loss. So what we wanted to do was take bikes that are sitting in people's homes so not necessarily new bikes. Some people have donated new bikes and we appreciate it, but you're gently used bikes if you have it sitting around at home, bring it to us. We have partnered with two bike shops to help fix these bikes up and then transition them back to young people who need them," explains Bristol.
She also realizes some of our younger generations may not even know how to ride a bike. She wants people to know, you can learn anytime. She learned in her 30s.
"So I have to be honest about my own journey. Even though my dad was a cyclist in Ghana, he never taught me his daughter how to ride a bicycle, I learned at the age of like around 33-34, how to ride a bicycle. So me sharing with our young people I learned in my early 30s. So there's no reason why you can't learn right now. So we're also going to work on how to teach our young people how to ride a bike, bike safety, partnering with the St. Pete police department, bike registration, people were like, what is that you don't have to register a bike is helpful. Because if someone takes that bike that you have registered it, it shows that belonging to you," explains Bristol.
You can read more about the St. Pete Youth Farm and its bike program by clicking here.