This 1.25-acre sustainable farm is located within Greenbelt Forest Preserve in North Chicago. In addition to work experience, high school students employed at the Green Youth Farm in Lake County gain entrepreneurial and job skills training, guidance by adult mentors, and exposure to healthy foods and cooking. They also provide affordable produce to Lake County's food-insecure residents, and nutrition demonstrations at Women and Infant Children (WIC) centers.
Each summer, 20 students are hired to plan, sow, tend and harvest the farm. Participants learn to enjoy and prepare new foods, and they market their produce at area farmers markets. Fresh produce is also available for purchase weekly at a farm stand that operates July through October across the street from the farm at the Greenbelt Cultural Center. Herbs, honey, flowers, and fresh vegetables and fruit are available at affordable prices. The teenagers in the program operate the farm stand.
The Preservation Foundation partners with the Lake County Forest Preserves and the Chicago Botanic Garden to make this exemplary program possible. It was founded in 2003 in Lake County as a pilot program to provide teens exposed to varied risk patterns with a paid summer job working on an urban farm. Since the program began in 2003, the Green Youth Farm in Lake County has:
Employed and mentored nearly 320 young people from diverse backgrounds.
Sold or donated more than 60,000 pounds of fresh produce.
Led dozens of food preparation and food nutrition demonstrations at WIC centers.
The Green Youth Farm in Lake County—made possible thanks to donors from across the region—has grown into the model for youth development programs throughout Chicago. Join us as we further the mission of the Lake County Forest Preserves to provide interactive education for generations to come.