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Engaged youth supporting our local food system!

Participant in the garden, Roots & Wisdom program,  from Roots & Wisdom Facebook page

Gardening is joyful!

Youth from Roots & Wisdom program in the field

Youth from Roots & Wisdom in the field

Youth in the Roots & Wisdom Program with boxes of harvested produce

Youth participants with produce they've grown

Youth from the Roots & Wisdom program peers through some sunflowers

Flowers grown in the Roots & Wisdom program.

Roots & Wisdom participant Danisha and quote

A Roots and Wisdom summer program participant

Roots & Wisdom

Roots and Wisdom, a youth agriculture and community service program, brings together Schenectady County youth to naturally grow vegetables for sale within Schenectady County and to be donated to local food pantries. Program participants actively learn about sustainable agriculture, hunger, nutrition, and diversity. Roots and Wisdom’s participants, through hard work and community service, create genuine change in Schenectady.

Who can participate?

The Seed to Harvest Program – a job training site for Schenectady County residents between 16 and 21 years old. Our program provides an opportunity for young adults to focus on their future in a supportive environment. A crew plants, tends, harvests, and sells vegetables; prepares food; practices and discusses job skills and career development; and much more. No previous experience is necessary, but applicants must be willing and able to work hard. Priority consideration for paid summer employment will be given to successful participants. Applicants must meet special criteria to be considered.

The Summer Growing Program – a six-week Schenectady County Summer Youth Employment Cooperative site for Schenectady County high school-aged youth. Youth participants work as part of a crew to plant, tend, and harvest vegetables. Crew then helps to distribute produce to food pantries and to sell vegetables at the Fehr Avenue Farm Stand. Youth also participate in regular workshops and discussions about food systems, sustainability, nutrition, diversity and leadership through work in urban organic agriculture. No previous experience is necessary, but applicants must be willing and able to work hard.

Where are the gardens?

Our main garden is located at the Sustainable Living Center at 180 PTL Arthur Chaires Lane in Central Park, next to the tennis courts.  We also use garden space on the corner of Fehr Avenue and Central Park Road, directly across the street from Parkview Cemetery.

What do you do with the produce you grow?

Farm Stand – part of our summer growing program is running the farm stand located on the corner of Fehr Avenue and Central Park Road. We are open for six weeks (maybe more depending on the weather). 

Harvest Share Information – during the growing season, our produce is sold to local residents through a modified CSA called Harvest Share. Members sign up during the winter for a season of locally- and naturally- grown vegetables for weekly pick up. 

Click Here to Sign-Up

Roots & Wisdom also makes weekly donations to various food pantries throughout Schenectady County during the harvest season.

Are there volunteer opportunities in the program?

While the Seed to Harvest crew spends most of their time in the garden, there are often times when they need an ear to listen, time to prepare for their TASC (formerly GED), or practice for interviews. The wonderful help of local volunteers in the garden allows us the time to work on these other tasks. Adult volunteers are needed during the spring and fall seasons. Volunteers will learn hands-on gardening skills, the chance to mentor our crew, and enjoy a few hours of a relaxing time spent in an urban garden. 

If you are interested in volunteering, view the volunteer application instructions, fill out and return our volunteer application to Mary Clark-Smith at or in person at the Sustainable Living Center.

If you are unable to give your time, and would like to make a donation that goes directly to supporting youth, check out our 2020 appeal or visit our donate page and include Roots and Wisdom in the memo.

Last updated April 16, 2020