An agricultural project spearheaded by Keep Doña Ana County Beautiful has received top honors for its part in a nationwide movement to teach at-risk youth the benefits of cultivating a garden, and the rewards it can reap.
Keep America Beautiful awarded the 2011 President’s Circle award to The Youth Farm, a collaborative garden project coordinated by Keep Doña Ana County Beautiful, Families and Youth, Inc., Juvenile Drug Court, and the Anthony Water Company.
The Youth Farm is one of 450 projects of its kind throughout the nation, teaching at-risk youth the skills and responsibilities necessary to plant and harvest a garden.
The fruits of their labor are then donated to area food banks, community centers and soup kitchens. Some of the produce is also sold at the Las Cruces Farmer’s Market downtown to raise funds to sustain the farm.
The Youth Farm is part of a nationwide initiative known as The People’s Garden. Each People’s Garden project can vary in size and type, but must meet three criteria: to benefit the community, be a collaborative effort through local partnerships, and incorporate sustainable practices, such as capturing rain water, composting, or mulching.
This is the fourth year Keep Doña Ana County Beautiful has received the President’s Circle award, a distinction reserved for the nation’s “best of the best” gardens.
To qualify, Keep Doña Ana County Beautiful met or exceeded the national standard of excellence in conducting an annual litter index, calculating cost/benefit ratios, and engaging volunteers to take greater responsibility for their community environments.
“One of our most effective tools is the grassroots work of our affiliate organizations,” said Keep America Beautiful President and CEO Matthew McKenna. “Keep Doña Ana County Beautiful is among the best in the nation when it comes to promoting the values of Keeping America Beautiful.”