BoysGrow, a local youth empowerment program that teaches inner-city teenage boys farming and entrepreneurship, is raising money to buy a farm.
By Sarah Gish
As of Friday morning, BoysGrow’s Neighbor.ly project had raised $16,810 from 99 backers. Founder John Gordon, Jr. is hoping to raise $30,000 before the fundraiser ends on Tuesday.
Neighbor.ly works kind of of like Kickstarter — donations are matched with prizes. So a $25 donation to BoysGrow gets you a high five, a $75 donation nets a limited edition t-shirt, and those who donate $2,500 get their name on a row of vegetables at the farm. The difference is, if the project doesn’t reach its $30,000 goal, BoysGrow still gets to keep the donations.
Since Gordon started BoysGrow in 2011, the program has operated on borrowed land. Each growing season, the boys in the program work to grow food on the land and then use the food to make and market products such as salsa, agave ketchup and barbecue sauce.
BoysGrow products are sold at a handful of local stores that includes Cosentino’s (downtown and Brookside), Whole Foods, McGonigle’s and Little Freshie. The program’s agave ketchup is the house ketchup at Succotash and Anton’s Taproom.
The challenge of operating on borrowed land, Gordon says, is that he had to build the program from scratch every spring. He says he plans to use the Neighbor.ly funds for a down payment on a piece of land that will become BoysGrow’s permanent home.
“We saw a property we liked last year but we didn’t have the means to buy it,” he says. “We want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
If BoysGrow can secure a piece of donated land, Gordon adds, then the Neighbor.ly donations will be used to pay for electricity, running water, greenhouses, solar panels, a kitchen, wood shop and water catchment system on the farm.
For more info on BoysGrow — or to donate — check out the Neighbor.ly project.
Enterprise reporter Sarah Gish writes dining and bar guides for Ink magazine. She also contributes regularly to Chow Town and writes a monthly cooking feature for The Star’s Food section. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @sarah_gish.