The Chewonki farm is always a busy place but on July 9 it was a beehive: 65 teenagers and 20 facilitators from six non-profit organizations joined Chewonki Farm Manager Megan Phillips, Assistant Farm Manager Hilary Crowell, and Farm Apprentice Lisa Beneman (MCS 40) and seven campers from Boys Camp for the second annual Maine Youth Agriculture Summit. The event was funded in part by the Maine School Garden Network. Touring Chewonki’s vegetable, livestock, and forestry operations; meeting; eating; teaching; and learning were groups from Cultivating Community (Portland), Erickson Fields Preserve/Aldermere Farm (Rockport), Medomak Valley High School Seed-Saving Project (Waldoboro), St. Mary’s Nutrition Center/Lots to Gardens (Lewiston), Wolfe’s Neck Farm (Freeport), and Youthlinks (Rockland). All of these organizations engage young adults in agriculture; each does it in its own way. The exchange of information and perspectives made the day rewarding for everyone. The Youth Agriculture Summit “grounds these teens in the work of growing and helps them see themselves as part of an important broader movement involving food, people, and the environment,” explains Megan. The day also gives these young people, who come from a wide range of backgrounds, a chance to voice to their personal stories. Participants talked about their lives; the people, experiences, and ideas that inspire their interest in agriculture; and the challenges and rewards of producing food. Everyone enjoyed a potluck picnic of healthy food, much of it grown by those in attendance, set out on long tables in the southeast field. Youth-led workshops in the afternoon focused on horsepower farming, making on-farm fertilizers and amendments, seed saving, halter and knot tying, farm worker rights, rotational grazing, agricultural policy, needle felting, and leadership within the food system. Megan says she felt “so proud of the Chewonki semester alumni who are working on our farm this summer [this week, they were Dina Alter, Sem. 50; Talia Isaacson, Sem. 53; and Peter Chapman, Sem. 54. Their articulation of this farm’s systems helped me to understand how deeply they are caring and engaging their head, heart, and hands in equal measure this summer.” The day as a whole was an unusually vibrant and youthful demonstration of agriculture’s many connections to individual and community well-being. See photos from the event here.