Grow Youngstown: Cultivating Produce and Student Involvement

Some locally grown produce at one of Grow Youngstown’s share pick-ups. YSU students will have access to their own shares on campus this spring.
Some locally grown produce at one of Grow Youngstown’s share pick-ups. YSU students will have access to their own shares on campus this spring.

To welcome spring, a group of students that have ties with Grow Youngstown — a nonprofit organization that promotes the sustainable growth of food, forest, forage and fuel — are bringing shares of produce to the students and faculty at Youngstown State University.

The Youngstown State University version of the local group Grow Youngstown — the Grow Youngstown Student Organization — worked with the communities of Youngstown, Warren, Poland and Boardman to bring fresh local foods to the Valley through agricultural means.

“We’re a group that works with local farmers to create a community garden, and a Community Supported Agriculture — which is like a farmer’s market with a middle man. On campus, our organization is going to try to expand on the growth of produce,” Sam Anderson, president of the Grow Youngstown Student Organization, said.

Anderson explained that she wants to incorporate Farm To You — Grow Youngstown’s CSA market — to everyone at the university.

“We’re expanding our … pre-existing operation of a CSA, and we’re bringing it to the YSU community,” she said. “We want to recruit subscribers to purchase a share of fresh local produce. … We’ll act as middle men and go to the farmers and purchase produce and drop them off in locations where our subscribers can pick them up.”

The produce from this program is locally grown within a 40-mile radius. This produce includes fruits and vegetables like strawberries, broccoli, kale, carrots and apples. Anderson added that about 80 percent of the produce is organic.

Students and faculty will be able to pick up these shares of produce April 8 and 22, and May 6 and 20 in front of Debartolo Hall from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. The first 35 orders placed will receive a discount of $5, making the cost of one share $15, and customers are allowed a pay later option.

Anderson said her organization not only offers healthy food choices, but also educational opportunities.

“We offer scholarships and service projects within the community, and the organization is non-profit. We supplement the duality of the growth in Grow Youngstown by offering opportunities to the YSU community that improve educational and entrepreneurial skills in growing the personal self,” she said.

Anderson said the program will give both students and faculty pride in their community.

“I feel like by giving them the opportunity to appreciate what their community directly gives them has a huge impact and gives a sense of pride in the community,” Anderson said. “When you open your fridge and look at your produce, do you know where it comes from? When you pick up these shares and look at the fresh local produce that the people in your community have given to you, it’s a really refreshing feeling.”