Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

Young & Green: Vanessa, a gem of Learn It Grow It Eat It

You’re reading Young & Green, the group blog written by participants of GrowNYC’s Youthmarket. This network of urban farm stands is operated by neighborhood youth, supplied by local farmers, and supplies communities throughout NYC with fresh fruits and veggies. Pretty cool, huh?

THIS WEEK'S MARKET SUPERSTAR: Vanessa Tejada, age 24

Learn It Grow It Eat It (LGE) is thought of by many as GrowNYC's "little gem." In this program, teens in the South Bronx tend to community gardens, learn how to grow organic fruits and veggies, teach residents in the South Bronx about nutrition and healthy eating, run a weekly Youthmarket, and even do hospital outreach! For four years, Vanessa Tejada was  instrumental in each area of LGE - she's all about nutrition and communication, two skills she's developed immensely since her start at the market.

Hear more from Vanessa, a little gem of LGE, below!

"I started as a volunteer, and had an amazing time working with the program exploring my cooking, social, and communication skills. Furthermore, I learned a lot about nutrition, specifically about the pros and cons of salt and sugar, and how to read food labels. One thing that I loved the most was cooking for the people and patients at the Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center, where we did cooking demonstrations and nutrition presentations. I loved when they tried something for the first time, liked it, and asked for the recipe. In addition to loving cooking, I also enjoyed harvesting green beans and eating them for breakfast. Since I started working with the program, I am more aware of what I eat. In my house, we’ve cut down a lot of sugar and salt and started making more natural food and juices."

Has the market changed what you eat? In what ways?

The market has change the way I eat drastically - I started paying more attention to what I’m eating. For example, I will go to the grocery store and compare the nutritional information of two items, and I will choose the one that is healthier, the one with the least salt and sugar.

Whats your favorite easy meal to make and how long does it take?

I love making spaghetti with pesto or tomato sauce. It only takes about 25 minutes to make.

Do you cook for your family members? How often?

Yes, I cook for about 8 of my family members, or my entire family when we all get together. I cook for my father, my stepmother, and my siblings two or three times a week.


What do they think about your cooking?

Most of them like my cooking. My father and stepmother they like what I cook, they say it’s delicious.

Has the market affected your future job plans? How?

Working at the market has affected my future job in a positive way. It has taught me how to deal with different weather, and I was able to develop a lot of skills while working.

What have you learned about dealing with tough customers?

Dealing with tough customers is hard, but I am a very calm person. I just breathe and try to understand where the customers are coming from, what their concern is, and if I’m able to help them.


Whats your favorite fruit or veggie that you tried for the first time while working at the market?

One of the first things that I tried when I started working at the market was string beans, which I ended up loving.

Whats one youre not crazy about?

One vegetable that I'm not crazy about is okra.

What advice would you give someone whos thinking about working for Youthmarket?

I would advise them to come in the program with an open mind because they will learn a lot. Also, they shouldn’t be shy about trying new fruits or vegetables, because they’ll never know if that will be a fruit or vegetable that they love.

VANESSA'S FOOD DIARY (Click the image below for a larger version.)


• Greetings, Ife!

• Meet Kim & Alpha

• Get to know Hassaballah & Santos

• Meet Danny and read his food diary

• Also say hi to Dekendra and Phylisha


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