The Next Generation – part one

UCAN Spotlight – Quinton M. Pettiford

With the increasing interest in science and nutrition education, many schools and youth organizations in the United States are planting gardens to serve as outdoor learning laboratories. Let’s chat with Quinton M. Pettiford who is one of the youngest plot owners at Catawba Trail Farm. Quinton is currently a college student at Johnson C. Smith University. He is currently majoring in Computer Engineering. 

He loves to tinker and fix problems around the house, and when there are problems with the car he fixes them too. On the weekends he is a chef at a local seafood restaurant but, every Saturday he goes to the farm before he goes to work. 

Quinton, what do you like about being a plot owner?

Being a plot owner gives me a chance to explore and experiment with the different options of growing many different types of plants and vegetables. It’s like I am being transformed into a scientist, actively participating in research and discovery. I enjoy trying out new things in my plot.

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

Depending on the time of year, I would say various peppers,  purple tomatoes, and our greens. The vibrant colors of each vegetable compliments the deep green leaves and provides a beautiful bouquet of colors. Not only are the colors spectacular, it tastes amazing. The food that I have grown is bigger and tastes better than the vegetables we get out of the grocery store. Now that is worth planting more.

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

One thing that I have learned was patience. Even though everyone else’s crops are ready for harvest doesn’t mean yours are ready. We are in a nation where things are produced quickly and instantly. However, when it comes to gardening you have to allow time for your vegetable to grow and cultivate. It is a steady process.

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

I would tell my peers how it’s much more than putting a seed in the ground with  Catawba Trail Farm it will truly be a life changing experience. Gardening is a wonderful place to learn responsibility, pride, self-confidence, curiosity, critical thinking, and the art of nurturing. I have learned so much just going out to the farm. I have developed great friendships and have been able to use my skills to teach others. You can get so much out of being at the farm. 

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

To me this means another opportunity for those who still don’t quite know what they want to do, or as another way to educate young men they can do more. 

Gardening helps with anxiousness and can be a technique for therapy. It is the only time outside of everything that’s going on in the world where you can mindlessly just be. I would recommend all young men come out to the farm and put their hands to work as their minds take a break.  I promise it will be refreshing and rewarding.

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