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Local youths help provide South Boston with fresh vegetables

Posted by Patrick Rosso  August 24, 2012 05:50 PM

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(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2012)


Millie Kline, 70, a South Boston resident sampling pickles made by Phyllis Nyamunda, 17, of South Boston.

Tucked along Devine Way in South Boston, an urban garden is a labor of love for a group of local teenagers.

They are producing vegetables for the community and having fun while they do it. The teens, who are part of the South Boston Youth Ambassadors, have been working on the urban farm over the summer learning not only where their food comes from but also how fresh, local and affordable produce can make an impact on a community.

“The idea was to start gardens in the local developments and increase access to healthy foods for the residents,” said Phoebe Flemming, the president of South Boston Grows, the nonprofit that oversees the teens' work. “There weren’t any real vegetable gardens in the area before we started this, and a lot of the kids didn’t know about gardening.”

Now in its third year, the program has gardens in the West Broadway and Devine Way areas, increasing access to healthy food for the residents, all produced from garden space of more than 5,000 square feet.

“It was a lot of fun. The only thing I didn’t like was the sun,” Michael Davis, 19, a South Boston resident and one of the teenage gardeners, said on Thursday. “This was my third year, and I already knew a lot, but I still learned plenty.”

The 10 teenagers, who hail from South Boston and Dorchester, worked over the summer and got paid to grow kale, squash, peppers, and cucumbers, among other tantalizing veggies. The distributed their harvest, for free, to residents.

“I’m just so happy that these kids are here helping and growing,” Millie Kline, 70, a South Boston resident, said as she picked up vegetables. “It’s great that Southie has something like this.”

In addition to the vegetables, the youth also created their own recipes, making homemade pesto and pickles from the vegetables they grew.

“Most of my friends were babysitting over the summer, they never would think my summer job was gardening but it was a lot of fun,” said Phyllis Nyamunda, 17, of South Boston. “I learned you have to try new things. I didn’t want to go near the squash because of the spiders, but I got over that.”

To celebrate the end of the program, the group threw its annual garden party Thursday afternoon, welcoming the community to tour the garden and snack on homemade pickles.

“It felt good doing this,” said Maria Castillo, 16, of Dorchester. “I know it can be hard to afford good vegetables, and I feel good knowing we grew this and are helping out the community.”

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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.
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(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2012)


The teen's Devine Way garden.


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