Narrator: It is 8AM on a hot July day. These young people in Woodbury, New Jersey start their morning with a major setback.
Luanne Hughes – Rutgers University: Over the weekend, a major storm blew through and destroyed the tent that covers the tables at the farm stand. We had to completely disassemble a broken tent and reassemble a new one. So that took a lot of extra time. And this season has been especially hot. To their credit they come back every day.
Narrator: Luanne Hughes is referring to these local high school students. They are part of a 4-H project funded in part by CSREES’s Children, Youth and Families At Risk program.
Linda Strieter – Rutgers University: Seeds To Success…is a program that teaches special-needs, at-risk children how to run their own business Special needs children are children that have been classified for some type of disability. In some situations, it’s a learning disability. In other cases, they may have physical problems or mental impairments.
Narrator: That doesn’t seem to slow down this group – even with the hot weather. Today’s forecast is predicting temperatures in excess of 100. And as they hurry to get produce packaged, another farmer arrives with a delivery.
Ed Cuneo – New Jersey farmer: Good Morning, gentlemen! How are you today?
Ed Cuneo: Think you’re going to get a lot of business in this hot weather?
Ed Cuneo: OK let’s go.
The children are very helpful. They are very enthusiastic about what they’re doing. I know they’re learning a lot. I think they’ve picked up a sense of business acumen. And I also think they’ve picked up a sense of where their food comes from. This Seeds (to) Success program is great for us in that they don’t take a volume of things.
And it’s very timely considering we only deliver once a week there. So this is a perfect fit for us. It’s a boon for both the small farmers such as ourselves, the children who are involved with the program. But also importantly is the community because they are now getting an outlet for fresh produce.
Luanne Hughes: Each of our three target communities who are Seeds To Success communities, are limited resource communities. That means that 50% or more of the residents are at or below poverty level. So were talking about three communities who would be considered at risk, or low income or limited resource.
Narrator: The first customers of the day start arriving at the stand. In spite of the heat and the tent replacement, the students open on time.
Luanne Hughes: What Seeds does is actually create a new workforce. It’s giving the children on-the-job training to take back and work their communities. They’re learning not only job preparation skills and life skills, but community service as well.
Terron Knight – student: It’s just a way to learn a business. And your still learning as the summer goes. Even though you’re not in school, you’re still learning.
Javon Jackson – student: It helps me learn how to run a business ’cause I would like to be a clothes designer one day. And it teaches me how to manage money, run my own business, deal with customers.
Sparkles Jones – student: It gives you good experience working here. Like make your own prices, how to handle your money and work as a team.
Luanne Hughes: They are more comfortable looking you in the eye when they speak. They are more confident. Our grant from CSREES was what really helped get our project off the ground. Many of our children wouldn’t have jobs if it weren’t for this project. So this gives kids the opportunity to really get out and it gives them a chance to shine and to grow.