The St. Pete Youth Farm, located at 1664 12th St. S, held its second annual Farm-O-Ween on Oct. 28.
BY KILEY WOODS | Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — The St. Pete Youth Farm hosted its second annual Farm-O-Ween festival on Oct. 28. The event was free, open to the community and offered a safe space to be afraid during the Halloween season.
They had face-painting, costume contests, a scavenger hunt, a haunted greenhouse, candy, music, food and more within walking distance of the surrounding community. By the night’s end, the two wheelbarrows full of candy were empty. Youth of all ages attended the event, and everyone is always excited to see former student ambassadors return to volunteer.
“Teens feel like they can come and hang out, and it’s something they can walk to,” said Carla Bristol, collaboration manager.
Twinkly lights, the smell of fire and the sounds of kids laughing let the community know it’s Halloween at the farm once again. The haunted greenhouse offers a touch of fear, but it is the excitement that brings the farm to life.
Each day on the farm is an opportunity for growth, striving to create intergenerational connections.
“Young people can be in this place where there are expectations on how to behave, and they are willing to adhere to behavior codes because there is a level of respect on how I am addressing them and what I expect in return, but more importantly because they do not want to get booted,” Bristol said.
A teen at the event stuck his middle finger out at someone, to which Bristol promptly walked over to the teen and made him apologize to the other kid.
“We are all interconnected and interwoven into each other’s tapestries,” Bristol said, referring to the farm’s intergenerational roots.
The purpose of the youth farm is to address the nutrition insecurity within the area; everything cultivated is given to the community. The farm teaches youth the importance of giving back, business skills, growing their own food and working on a project that requires collaboration and intentionality.
The farm grows fresh food and raises seafood using aquaponics, a food production system that combines aquaculture and hydroponics.
“We saw the need,” Bristol said. “Many residents have food insecurity, and the farm shows the youth the importance of giving back to the community.”
Youth working on the farm earn $15 an hour. The farm hosts workdays on the last Saturday of every month, where the public can join in on the fun by helping tend the gardens. And on Mondays, the farm offers free mental health support for youths working there. Now, at 6 p.m., Mental Health Mondays are open to all community members. The Mental Health Monday program started on Sept. 11 and offers support from a licensed mental health professional.
On the farm, youths learn leadership, communication, time management, entrepreneurship skills, career readiness, and the passing down and spreading of knowledge. Through the farm’s programming, youth learn that they can make an impact and share that impact within their communities.
Event attendees took a survey and requested a scarier haunted greenhouse next year, which will require dividing the youth by age group.
The farm’s next event, Giving Thanks Workday, is scheduled for Nov. 18 at 9 a.m.
For more information, contact Bristol at 727-565-3930 or firstname.lastname@example.org