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Exploration of the Role of an Urban Farming Program in Promoting Youth's Life Skills, Entrepreneurship, and Healthy Eating Intentions for Minority Youth Attending Felege Hiywot Center, Indianapolis
Community gardens and youth-based programs in urban agriculture have potential to engage youth, especially minorities, in personal development, community building, and healthy eating promotion. This research study explored the role of urban agriculture at the Felege Hiywot Center (FHC), in promoting life skills, entrepreneurship, and healthy eating intentions among minority youth engaging in its programs. The study employed a mixed methods approach through surveys (n=24) and semi-structured interviews (n=10). The Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1991; Fishbein, 2000) served as the conceptual framework with three predictive variables to life skills, entrepreneurship, and healthy eating intentions. Community partnerships, program structure, and individual background factors were measured, and relationships between life skills and entrepreneurship were explored. Results obtained from the analysis for both surveys and interviews indicate that participation in FHC promotes life skills, entrepreneurship, and healthy eating intentions for minority youth who engage in its programs. Overall, participants acknowledged the role of volunteers, professionals, sponsors, FHC structure, and individual background factors in promoting life skills, entrepreneurship, and healthy eating intentions. Qualitative data reports more in-depth descriptions of minority youth’s experiences at FHC’s youth program that impacted their daily lives and career decisions. Quantitative and qualitative results highlighted the leadership at the Felege Hiywot Center as particularly influential This research study contributes to the literature on the impacts of urban agriculture youth programs that incorporate experiential learning, farm-based education, and student centered-learning with youth development philosophies. The study also generated a conceptual framework that shows the interactions of different factors that lead to intentions. The results from this study support and extend prior research that suggests positive, lasting impacts from youth-based programs in urban agriculture.