A local youth farm program is expanding through a partnership with Chemeketa Community College.

The Marion Polk Food Share’s youth program has helped grow 23,000 pounds of food for families in need in Marion and Polk counties, according to the Statesman Journal. In addition, appealing to high school and college students have helped numerous young people grow in agricultural skills and as community leaders.

Now the farm is growing with the moving to a new site at Chemeketa Community College, allowing the program to double in size.

“Having the youth farm at Chemeketa is more than just a bigger farm, We have the opportunity to create a garden education site for the entire community.” said Ian Dixon-McDonald, vice president of programs at MPFS.

The new farm will be integrated into the Chemeketa agricultural sciences program, allowing the students to see a working farm in action.

“This partnership is exactly the kind of collaboration we seek to integrate educational opportunity with community needs,” said Julie Huckestein, president of Chemeketa.

Rick Guapo, president of the food share, says that the partnership represented an aligning of goals between the organization and the college, allowing a pooling of resources.

“This is the partnership we wanted,” he said. “Together we have the resources to strengthen the community.”

Half of the food grown in the new garden will be distributed through the food share to families in need. The rest will be sold at the Salem Saturday Market, allowing Youth Farm students to learn business and money management skills.

Emily Abbey is a Salem based student and writer. She loves cooking, coffee, and anything to do with the Pacific Northwest. She hopes to become a teacher, influencing students to write and make a difference in their corner of the world.