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Student-Led Greenhouse Will Help Fight Food Insecurity in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Students in St. Petersburg are getting their hands dirty for a great cause, feeding families in need.

"That's one thing about [St. Pete] Youth Farm, we've got a lot of kids doing powerful stuff," said Justin Bowman, a senior at St. Petersburg Catholic High School.

USF St. Petersburg joined local high school students to unveil a brand new fresh, and local greenhouse Monday.

"They're doing aquaponics working with fish, we also have some kids who are going to start doing some make-[at]-home gardens so people can actually bring the nutrients for their community into other communities," said Bowman.

"Okra plants, pigeon peas, Cuban oregano which is incredible, and pepper plants," added Carla Bristol who has been overseeing and holding meetings leading up to the initiative.

The greenhouse will provide college and high school students the opportunity to learn about innovative food production systems while enhancing business skills. The unveiling coincided with the St. Pete Youth Farm's Juneteenth celebration that featured students and members of the community working the farm, African drumming and dance, food and other festivities.

Located in the Thirteenth Street Heights and Cromwell Heights neighborhoods, organizers say the new greenhouse will also help fight food insecurity.

"Only ten blocks away from where the Walmart and the Sweet Bay closed over five years ago," clarified Bristol.

"We noticed that there was a discrepancy in the available nutrients that we could get in this community," Bowman added. "There's a problem and we need to fix it and this is one of the solutions that we came up with." Students will use gardening to help provide fresh food year round. "I've worked with composts, I've worked with potting plants, even harvesting plants and, you know, a chef has to try their own food so I've tasted just about everything out here.. even the habaneros."

"We have bags and they fill their bags with, like, for example, mustard was a big one. Right now, we're planting a lot of okra," said Bristol.

The Fresh and Local Greenhouse was made possible by a $25,000 grant from the Ford Motor Company Fund, through their Ford College Community Challenge, and additional funding from local donors and internal grants.

You can contact the youth farm directly by clicking here. The address for the youth farm is behind the Enoch D. Davis Center, 1664 12th Street South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705.

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