Food project gets underway

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By Bernadette Lauritzen

Spring has been kind to the Los Alamos Youth Food Project. The Family YMCA is finalizing some permits and solidifying infrastructure support for the garden site and is  gearing up to engage community members to join the Y Earth Service Corps (YESC) youth as they begin planting seedlings on site.
The month of May found Los Alamos Middle School students recording a commercial for local radio station KRSN AM 1490, to solicit volunteers to assist youth in creating a community garden that will aide the teachings of math, science, geography and more.
Akash Dighe and Andres Maestas provided the musical interlude, and along with several classmates, added to the project by sharing additional information.
“I like recording commercials and working with my classmates,” Dighe said. “To be together as one in the community and to help grow food.”
The commercial was a spring board into the May 23, ground breaking event, as the LAYFP held an official shovel-in-the-dirt work party to formally recognize the hard work of many that helped bring the State Farm Youth Advisory Board Grant effort to this point.
State Farm’s Lou Santoro, School Board President Kevin Honnell, Juvenile Justice Advisory Board Vice Chair Morrie Pongratz and Los Alamos Public Schools Business Manager John Wolfe joined students, donned hard hats and wielded gold shovels for the groundbreaking event, after a local contractor helped to smooth out the plot where the building and planting will take shape.
While it may have been the end of a school year, the real work is just beginning as The Family YMCA works to find community volunteers to assist with a variety of future projects.
Kim Secrest YESC Summer Director and Madeleine Brown AmeriCorps Summer Program member, joined the YESC youth to provide a presentation on the Food Project at the Betty Ehart Senior Center.
The YESC works with youth ages 11-17, to develop strong leadership skills, while becoming good stewards of the environment and volunteering throughout our  community.
YESC members were on hand during the BESC lunch hour, where Assets In Action provided an interactive display to teach seniors about the project and it’s partners.
YESC participants spoke about their work to enhance the LAYFP, their additional projects for the summer and answered general questions about YESC.
“There are lots of senior gardeners who would be happy to share their expertise with the youth and we’re big into gardening here at the Betty Ehart Senior Center,” said Pauline Powell Schneider, Los Alamos Retired and Senior Organization director.
Those unable to attend the presentation can contact Sylvan Argo at The Family YMCA at 662-3100 or via email at adventure@laymca.org, for more information.
The YESC youth are also updating their Wordpress blog, their LA Youth Food Project Facebook site and have regular trail and activity updates on their YESC site via Facebook (search Los Alamos YES Corps).