The Next Generation – part two

UCAN Spotlight – Quan Pettiford

Catawba Trail Farm was established to improve the health and wellness of our community. Urban Community AgriNomics (UCAN) provides education and skill acquisition in healthy lifestyles, seed-to-table food preparation and preservation, and hands-on-STEM and Agriculture. They provide residents with access to resources to grow their own healthy food, in a supportive environment, using sustainable practices. As one of our youngest plot owners Quan Amir Pettiford lives up to using what he has learned to produce a great crop. Let’s chat with Quan and learn a little more from him.

Quan, tell us a little bit about yourself?

During my high school years, I was able to study Agricultural, Computer Science, and Drone Aviation. I had the opportunity to travel to Italy, Spain, and Rome to learn more about how people live. Now I am currently a freshman at Johnson C Smith University and I am majoring in Computer Science. I have aspirations to become a Game Developer. I also play on the offensive line for the JCSU football team. Playing football and weightlifting are my main hobbies. I am an active member of Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church where I serve on the usher board and as Vice President for the Youth Missionaries. In the Durham church community, I service as Treasurer for the Durham County Youth Union Missionary Department. And I am a volunteer and plot owner at the Catawba Trail Farm. 

Wow, you are a busy young man. You are one of the youngest plot owners at Catawba Trail Farm so what do you like about being a plot owner?

I enjoy learning how to grow my food. Food is a powerful element of our culture. Growing all different types of food offers us an opportunity to expand our pallets and share some of our favorite foods.

What are some of the things you grow in your plot?

I enjoy growing tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, collard, and mustard greens. These types of foods are very colorful and nutritious. All of these vegetables are good with other meats but they can also be good as a single dish.

What is one thing you have learned about being a plot owner with UCAN? 

I have learned that being a plot owner is hard work. There are so many elements to planting in a raised bed. From selecting what type of plants, understanding the spacing you apply to the plants, watering and maintaining the plants by removing weeds, and ensuring the vegetables are harvested on time. It is hard work but it is rewarding.

What would you say to convince your peers to get involved in gardening?

I would tell my peers that it is so cool to nurture and watch your plants grow from a seed to an actual edible vegetable. I would inform them that If you have questions while at the farm, there are plenty of people around to help you out. What is great is that we give fresh vegetables out to the community. It is a great feeling to eat what you grow and share with others.

What does Catawba Trail Farm mean to you as a young African American man? 

I feel like I have a purpose. I am learning so many new life and survival skills. While at the farm, I feel closer to my grandparents and great-grandparents. They were farmers as well. The difference with farming now versus then is that they had to farm to survive. I get the opportunity to learn about farming without being forced. While farming, if I get tired, I can stop working, but they could not stop working. If my food does not grow well in my plot, I get to go to the grocery store and purchase other vegetables but they could not do that. They had to rely on the land. So I am honored to carry on that legacy for them and teach others as I go.

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