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Students gain business skills with hands-on summer program

IPS students pose in front of their food stand.

Over the summer Mesha Edwards worked at a local food stand to get a jumpstart on her career aspirations of being a restaurant owner.

Edwards, who is starting her senior year at Arsenal Technical High School, participated in the Food Fellowship program, launched by The Patachou Foundation in 2020. For six weeks she served as a tour guide for elementary and middle school students on field trips to The Patachou Foundation Urban Farm.

“During the Food Fellowship program, I’ve learned about different coffee drinks like cold brews, lattes, pour overs and more,” said Edwards, who plans on someday running a restaurant with food grown on site. “I learned how to plant, harvest, and sell my produce. I’ve learned basic kitchen skills including chopping, prepping, and most importantly food safety. This led to me becoming ServSafe certified.”

She was one of five students from IPS who participated in the Food Fellowship program, a paid workforce development program for high school students, offering hands-on experience with careers in the food system.

The student-run farm stand provided an opportunity to learn entrepreneurship, food marketing and photography, customer service, and other business skills. The farm stand featured fresh produce from the Patachou Foundation Urban Farm.

“The farm stand was a great experience for me, getting together with fellow coworkers harvesting produce earlier that day and selling it that evening,” Edwards said. “I also really enjoyed going to a dairy farm and seeing how farming life would really be like and how the animals literally can take care of your whole farm as long as you take care of them. It really just encouraged me more to get ready and work hard for what I want to accomplish.”