20-year-old Charles Wright will never forget the first time he worked in an urban garden.
"I was stringing up tomatoes and like just kind of teaching myself," he said. "I brought my cousins up there, and that's the first time I ever saw him ever eat a tomato."
That moment changed his life.
"I was out here doing like a lot of wrong things, and when I saw that, I saw a way that I can change something. It wasn't a job. I was just volunteering," said Wright.
The EAT Program participant now wants to share what he's learned with young people all over Detroit. His idea is to create a nonprofit that places community gardens throughout the city giving kids a place to work and grow.
"If I put more community gardens in the neighborhood, other little kids like my cousins like it and enjoy it … then they'll get a good experience and they could see something that's positive," Wright explained.
The Capuchin Kitchen is helping Detroiters like Wright turn their dreams into a reality. The kitchen has teamed up with Gleaners to create the Earthworks Agriculture Training Program also known as the EAT Program.
The nine month program couples hands on agricultural training with business and marketing, so people with great ideas like Wright will have the skills to be successful in the field and in the marketplace.
The program's definitely popular. This year, 150 people applied, but only twelve were accepted. Every one of them was chosen based on the strength of their business model.
"We know that there's a need, there's a need for businesses and there's a need for job developments," said Willie Spivey.
He graduated from the EAT program. His goal is to build and manage green spaces for businesses and grow organic produce for local chefs. Spivey says he's always loved being outside because at one point in his life that was all he had.
"What got me involved is the fact that I came through the soup kitchen line," he told FOX 2's Alexis Wiley. "Having been downtrodden, I experienced life in the great outdoors. I experienced that and survived it."
Those experiences will help these agricultural entrepreneurs weather the ups and downs and grow a stronger Detroit.
The Earthworks Agriculture Training Program is geared towards people who live in the City of Detroit, and the new class will begin in March 2012. If you're interested in getting involved, the best thing to do is start volunteering now. For more information, go to www.cskdetroit.org/ewg.
KDFW FOX 4
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