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Originally published December 12 2010

Better marketing helps urban agriculture programs keep kids off the streets

by Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Urban market gardens are a great way for inner-city neighborhoods to unite around a common cause and improve the social fabric of their local community -- all while reaping a delicious harvest in the process. And a new study published in the Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education has found that Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs that build upon this concept can become highly effective and successful, especially when they are driven with proper marketing.

Recently, NaturalNews featured a piece about the growth of local food and how community organizers in Detroit are reviving the city's dying landscape with urban agriculture programs ( And as part of the new study, researchers highlighted Seattle Youth Garden Works (SYGW), a program of Seattle Tilth that has been working for years to help and provide job training for local homeless and troubled youth through urban agriculture.

In its early days, the organization had trouble maintaining the program because it lacked proper marketing outlets, but faculty from Washington State University (WSU) helped the group develop a CSA system that would end up helping it to thrive.

Poor, inner-city neighborhoods are typically the most undernourished in terms of access to fresh produce. Many grocery stores that once carried such products have since moved out of these areas, leaving locals with little access to any fresh food. But successful CSA programs have been able to fill that gap, as well as provide hope and new opportunities for the people who live in these communities.

But making it all happen requires effective marketing to clients. And part of SYGW's goal is to utilize its passion for helping homeless and misguided youth to attract more customers to CSAs, which in turn brings in more vendors.

According to reports, the popularity of CSAs and local agriculture in general has risen dramatically over the past several decades. Direct-to-consumer agriculture sales more than doubled between 1997 and 2007. So integrating them with inner-city social programs like SYGW is a great way to expand the growth of local food, as well as help provide the least among us with new life opportunities.

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