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KC-based urban farm launching support program to help families through growing season

Young Family Farm
Posted at 2:42 PM, Jun 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-20 19:44:04-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Access to fresh produce is difficult in a Kansas City neighborhood, so a family of urban farmers is doing something about it.

"In the African American community, it's such a tradition to have greens," said Yolanda Young, co-founder of the farm.

The Young family started out just testing their green thumb. What began as only a garden years ago is now a full-scale urban farm in the heart of the Ivanhoe Neighborhood.

"I swore I would never have a garden," said Alan Young Sr., co-owner of the farm. "If my dad was alive and he could come see this, he would chuckle."

Growing at this scale required trial and error.

"It's a lot of work," Young Sr. said.

As fortunate as the Young family is with land supporting fresh produce, they said their reality is not the same for much of the community.

"For folks who aren't familiar with the Ivanhoe Neighborhood, where we're located, the median household income is around $30,000," said Alana Henry, a family member who works on the farm. "The reality of those numbers, especially in light of increased cost of living, food access and quality of life in general, is a challenge for a lot of the residents."

But it's a challenge this family said they can meet.

"Part of our efforts here is to produce enough to give back to folks who can't afford to buy organically grown food at a store," Young Sr. said.

The Young family gives back to their community as much as possible because they said much of their community is in a food desert, meaning not only do a large number of homes have low incomes but they also must overcome limited access to transportation and options for fresh, affordable groceries.

This growing season, however, the family is stepping in to launch a produce support program.

"There's a term I heard recently that I relate to more than food access — food apartheid," Henry said. "It's important to recognize and acknowledge there were systemic inequalities that led to the situation we're seeing."

So, they're aiming to remove those barriers.

"There's often a lot of red tape with getting support, so we're trying to avoid sending people down that same rabbit hole," Henry said.

The Young family said the farm could start out helping 10 families in need, with the hope that they can help even more in the future. Selected families will receive assistance throughout the growing season.

Applications are open now.

Additionally, the Youngs, who recently were named the best family farm in Jackson County by the state of Missouri, host a farmer's market every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.