Our Summer Garden Program takes place at the Central Kitchen, located adjacent to Kalispell Middle School. Working alongside students and staff from the Center for Restorative Youth Justice, our summer program promotes inclusion and gives students an opportunity to follow produce down the path from seed in the dirt to a delicious meal lead by a local chef and served to friends and family. These invaluable experiences impart job skills and valuable knowledge these students can carry forward into their lives post-graduation. Aimed at providing smoother transitions for special needs youth as they move from high school to adult life in the community, this program is a response to many requests from youth, parents and schools seeking new and innovative ways to give students opportunities to build skills and self-confidence through work based learning. We have broken the Summer Programs offerings into four essential parts:
Over the course of the summer, our our skills students and CRY-J youth work together with staff and volunteers to maintain the garden and grow a plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables. Students learn the basics of how to care-take a garden; how to plant seeds, distinguish weeds, water, harvest a wide variety of produce, and generally problem solve and work together with others. The garden is large and varied, and many times we have been able to introduce students to vegetables they have never encountered, or had no idea what they looked like planted in the ground.
Throughout the summer, Summer Program participants will attend skill-building workshops focused on development of both soft skills and skills they will need as they begin to think about entering the work force. Workshops we have done in the past include:
- resume building and interview practice
- customer service
- communication skills
The Market Stand
Youth at the Summer Garden program run a donation-based market stand. While learning invaluable skills in customer service and money-handling,
As an additional bonus, they are also providing a community service by providing fresh and affordable produce to the local area. The produce that is not sold at the market stand is used by staff at the Central Kitchen for lunch preparation.
Often voted a favorite part of the summer program by participants, Supper Club dinners allow for opportunities for students to prepare the produce they have grown, guided by program staff and a local chef. As they learn how to work and handle food safely in a commercial kitchen, they are getting to see the end result of their hard work in the garden all summer. After the food is prepared, it is served to attendees from the community by the youth themselves.
Who is Eligible? Any high school student with an IEP or 504 plan may participate.