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© Allison Usavage

Seed to Table Experience

Co-hosted by Gardens 4 Humanity and SNAP-Ed, the Seed-to-Table Experience is designed to bring food-inspired youth together for a fun skill-building activities.

A Q&A with Josh Dolan, Community Food Gardens Educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension:

What do you do?

The Seed to Table Program is a full immersion in our local food system: from planting seeds and visiting local farms, to harvesting produce straight out of the fields and then working with those ingredients in the kitchen. The kids are learning from chefs how to use those ingredients to make beautiful food.

© Allison Usavage
Who is this good for?

I think it benefits the whole community, in the long run, to have young people that are aware and skillful around food. We’re catering to kids that are already very comfortable with and knowledgeable about the local food system, but we also have kids who are just getting to learn about healthy eating and maybe haven’t even thought about what local foods are, so we’re exposing some of the kids for the first time to this whole local food movement.

What change are you trying to make?

We’re trying to bring together a diverse group of kids so that we can create a community of young people that are comfortable working together across cultural and socioeconomic barriers around food. It’s partly a training on how to cook and how to grow food, but then the other half of it is that we’re trying to build a generation of leaders that are champions of food.

© Allison Usavage
What brought you here?

We’ve been building community gardens for the last 5 years and early on I had a realization: if people don’t know what to do with it, they’re not going to be too excited about the hard work that goes into gardening. We’re realizing that teaching people how to cook is just as important, if not more important, than teaching them how to grow food. I think marrying those two things can be extra powerful.

How does this impact Ithaca and the FLX?

Ithaca and the whole region is starting to be really well-known for the great food that we are putting out here. I want to make sure that every kid has the opportunity to be part of that, whether it’s as an eater or eventually as someone working in the food industry.

What struggles have you encountered?

It’s hard to reach everyone that you want to reach.

set-strip-2 © Allison Usavage
What inspires you, or what should we be celebrating?

I’m really inspired by what some of my friends are doing in the local food industry. Whether it’s farmers or chefs, I think we are just now tapping in to potential that we have here in our local food shed. Some of the developments, like in the wine and hospitality industry locally, are really pointing the way towards bright prospects for our future. I think because there’s so much competition with restaurants and with farms here, it’s forcing young people such as myself to really push the boundaries and try out new things that farmers traditionally wouldn’t try or restaurants wouldn’t traditionally try because it’s too risky.

How can we take part?

Starting in October we’re going to be launching an after-school program that’s going to be an 8-10 week series. We’re crowd-funding through PEAKS, so check out our campaign!

© Allison Usavage


Donate to the PeaksMaker campaign, or learn more about the Seed to Table program at


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