The remaining bits of snow from February’s snowstorm had just melted before eight young people stepped foot into the YouthGrow garden to start the first cohort of the year.

Despite a few surprises and a delayed start, Seattle’s Snowmageddon was no match for the incredible youth who graduated from YouthCare’s YouthGrow yesterday!

Emily Penna, YouthGrow’s Program Coordinator, expressed how proud she was of the group, who sowed the seeds and set high expectations for cohorts that follow.

“This garden looked completely different when the youth walked in,” said Emily. “All of these garden beds are completely transformed because of the hard work these students put in.”


YouthGrow is an eight-week program that teaches young people gardening, landscaping, and food production. Offered to young people ages 15-21 and run in collaboration with Seattle Public Schools Interagency Academy, participants learn to cultivate, harvest, and market produce while gaining critical employment skills and continuing their education.

The students led a tour of the garden, sharing techniques and interesting things they learned in the program.

One student was excited to talk about the plants he tended to these past few months. He turned to the group and said, “Did you know that collard greens can bloom into yellow flowers? Plants are insane!

collard greens blooming

Another student spent many hours each week feeding and raising worms in a large worm bin (also known as vermicomposting) housed in the garden. These awesome bins compost garden and food waste in the program!

Worm bin

The graduates gained invaluable skills in the program to help them grow their futures. Some discovered a new passion for gardening—with plans to continue YouthGrow in the summer where they’ll have the opportunity to market and sell harvested produce at the Columbia City Farmers Market.

“This program gave me a hobby,” said one student. “I’m going to start my own garden one day.”

Congratulations to the amazing YouthGrow graduates!

Check out more photos of the YouthGrow garden below!