Public speaking doesn’t make me nervous but speaking in front of teenagers does. I found out about the Enoch D. Davis Youth Farm program a couple months ago from my food writing and photography professor Janet Keeler. When I went to the meeting, I knew it was something great. The program allows a group of high school kids the opportunity to learn how an urban farm works while learning skills that’ll help them later in life.
Figuring out what to teach the kids wasn’t difficult at all. I knew when I talked about food photography, I had them. Leading up to my day to teach, I prepped a bit. I was ready to find my food photography books for visuals and I planned out an outline to help me keep track of what to talk about. The last time I did an outline is in undergrad so it felt refreshing to do this kind of preparation.
I admit I was a little nervous because, again, teenagers. I made a scenario up in my head where they’d just look at me like I was crazy and be completely disinterested. Once my lesson began, it surprised me how engaged and interested they were. I ended up deviating from the outline a bit but I think that made things a bit more interesting.
I left there feeling different. It felt like I exposed them to something different being a Black food writer because they probably couldn’t name any. They were all so enthusiastic and even asked me to stay with them for lunch afterwards.
Something like this is a wonderful opportunity for anyone. I didn’t get the green thumb but seeing them working the garden at Agrihood in St. Pete got me excited. The urban farm there had everything from huge sunflowers to even mango trees. So not only are they learning how to grow sustainable foods, they’re also gaining a bit of work experience and other skills to help them later in life.
I made a video of the students where they spoke about their experience in the program and what they see for themselves in the future: