by ERIN MEYERING
On Saturday, Urban Roots hosted Folk Art Jubilee, a one-day event with harvest festivities, including apple bobbing, papermaking and three-legged races. There were also various workshops; a little taste of what Urban Roots does throughout the year—home brewing, honey harvesting, kombucha making and more.
The event was a finale to the Harvest Camp Urban Roots, hosted Oct. 14-18 for kids from 5 to 9 years old. Urban Roots’ camps explore a small farm setting and allow kids to help make their own meals, while trying various types of fresh produce.
The farm is equipped with its own hoop house to grow seasonal produce, beehives and chickens for the kids to engage with and learn about. Overall, the camps strive to teach kids about community and learn about where their food can come from.
“[These camps] get kids outside,” attendee Pam Grace, mother of Miranda, said. “It is their second time participating in an Urban Roots camp. They get kids engaged in their environment and give them more of a connection to what’s surrounding them.”
Grace admitted she hadn’t expected to find such a large gardening community or anything like Urban Roots to exist in the area.
The Urban Roots location is certainly something unexpected—West Fourth Street hasn’t always had the brightest reputation. Urban Roots workers say the once abandoned parking lot has been rumored as a spot for illegal dumping, and there’s still a karaoke bar right next store—though Urban Roots has aspirations to someday turn the bar into a large indoor learning space.
Although the location may seem a little out of place, it certainly fits the organization’s mission in teaching people small farming is a very real option in the city. The property, which runs off of solar energy, is sectioned off from its surroundings and is actually well tucked away into an oasis of open minds and frequent workshops.
“It’s a different way to use space,” Cheryl Skibicki, development coordinator at Urban Roots Garden Classrooms, said. “The proximity surprises people because there’s a [thriving] plot of land near the city.”
The program continues to grow by offering an increasing number of adult-based workshops like its homebrewing classes for aspiring craft beer makers. At the Folk Art Jubilee, homebrewer Matt Johnson produced ten gallons of his own pumpkin farmhouse seasonal beer. Half of Johnson’s beer will be auctioned off, the other half will be used for holiday events involving Urban Roots.
“They make a big point in keeping adults involved,” Grace said.
Urban Roots began in 2010 as an organization that promoted “growing healthy minds, bodies and communities”, and its education continues to focus on engaging young people to create lasting healthy habits.
“[Programs like this] provide a hands on type of education for kids and they can gain valuable life skills through play,” Skibicki said.