Christian Patterson and Edwin Perez take gardening seriously. The two young men were selected by Triskeles, Inc. to maintain a large garden at Park Spring Apartments in Spring City as part of a job-skill training and entrepreneurship training program called Green Pathways for Youth. The internship will last through the summer, and all of the produce produced will be bought by Kimberton Whole Foods.
The garden, on a plot of land near the Park Spring Apartments basketball court, was set up to provide training and employment for youth in the rent-subsidized community. Better Tomorrows and Triskeles have provided funding to the current project for training in entrepreneurship. The young men will manage the garden as a business, selling their produce to Kimberton Whole Foods. If all goes well, the project will at least break even and hopefully turn a profit. The first harvest of Swiss chard will be ready in one to two weeks, with more harvests of Swiss chard and kale to follow. They are also planning to plant potatoes and tomatoes soon.
The former Food For Thought participants work hard, tending to the garden after school and on the weekends with the help of Ed Rodriguez, a Social Services Coordinator, and Sebastian Kretschmer, a Triskeles Agriculture Consultant. They spend an average of nine hours per week in the garden weeding, cultivating and watering the plants. They keep track of the weather to ensure that the plants are getting enough water from rain.
Christian, a freshman, and Edwin, a sophomore, are studying culinary arts at the Chester County Technical College High School. Both young men would like to be chefs, and Christian is exploring therapy as a career option as well. They are excited for the experience with gardening, learning how the food they love to cook goes from seed to harvest to kitchen to table, and the business that moves it.
The worst part of gardening? Getting compost from the nearby wooded area and moving it into the garden and dealing with bad weather. However, these two young men take it all in stride, looking at the big picture. They want the experience and know that this internship will help them continue their culinary careers after graduating from TCHS.
This summer gardening internship will benefit Christian and Edwin in countless ways. It will also benefit the Park Spring community by providing a lovely garden and training for two young residents. Kimberton Whole Foods will be able to provide locally sourced, fresh produce to its customers. Christian and Edwin are truly living up to the Triskeles mission by aligning practice with purpose.