Students washing vegetables at La Finca

Youth Education

We believe that cultivating youth leadership can powerfully influence policy and systems change.

Our youth leaders have opportunities to enroll in urban agriculture summer programs, apply for employment opportunities, and participate in classroom food justice and gardening programming that we run in collaboration with Holyoke Public Schools. Nuestras Raíces’ youth leaders always have a seat at the table; youth voice informs many of our decision-making, planning, and evaluation processes.

Siembra Siempre Summer Program

Nuestras Raíces’ Siembra Siempre ("Always Growing") is a youth empowerment summer program for students from Holyoke and surrounding communities.

***This program will not be available for this year***

Siembra Siempre Graduation

The fifteen to twenty youth that take part in Siembra Siempre each summer dive into a six-week intensive course in sustainable urban agriculture, food justice, and racial justice at La Finca, Nuestras Raíces’ 30-acre urban farm and educational center.

Siembra Siempre guides youth to discover where their food comes from, understand the work of the industrial food system, and to develop a critical understanding of how the food system perpetuates systems of racial oppression. Most youth entering the program have little to no experience farming; most schools fail to teach how food policy is used as a weapon to perpetuate racial inequality. Siembra Siempre leads students to understand how food, farming and their own voices can be utilized as tools in resisting and transforming inequitable food systems, while building a food system that works for everyone.

***This program will not be available for this year***

Siembra Siempre
July 9–August 16, 2019
6-weeks, Monday - Thursday

Siembra Siempre students learn:

  • Leadership, teamwork, and advocacy skills
  • All the steps of growing food, from seed to harvest
  • Growing techniques and the importance of cultural and native crops
  • The history of agriculture in Holyoke and within the broader Pioneer Valley

Each participant will be awarded a stipend upon successful completion of the summer program.

Siembra Siempre isn’t just a program that gives kids something to do over the summer; it gives them tools to empower themselves and their community for years to come.


  • Ability to complete a short interview with the Program Staff in May/June 2019
  • Able to lift 25 - 30 pounds and remain active for the full work day (10am - 3pm)
  • Come to work on time and wearing appropriate clothing
  • Willingness to work in all weather conditions (sun or rain)
  • Willingness to get your hands dirty!
  • Willingness to follow phone policy (We do not want to see your cell during working hours, unless permission has been granted by the facilitators).

School Food Improvement

Students in Holyoke are not eating their food. Studies have shown that close to 50% of the school food prepared and distributed in the city is thrown out by students. Students explain that meals are not nutritious, appetizing, or culturally appropriate.

Nuestras Raíces is working to improve school food by:

  • Offering nutrition and cooking programs in schools to expose students and parents to nutritious culturally-relevant cooking techniques.
  • Collaborating with the Springfield Food Policy Council in statewide discussions around improved school food standards and farm to school curriculum.
  • Launching a Community Leadership School to build a cadre of parents who will be able articulate the changes they want to see in the school food environment.
  • Aligning youth programs with Gardening the Community (Springfield) in order to develop a nimble cohort of youth advocates for school food who are able to voice student concerns.

Our Partners

Support a more equitable food system!

Donate to Nuestras Raices online to join the movement for better food access for all.

Stay connected!