Tending to plants helps Alaska youth push through hurdles of pandemic
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The COVID-19 pandemic has done a number on many non-profits and the people they serve, but over at Alaska Seeds of Change, many youth have pushed through the hurdles of the pandemic and continued to grow right alongside the plants they tend to.
Ericka Marcum is a greenhouse grower with Alaska Seeds of Change, a workforce development program of Alaska Behavioral Health that serves transition aged youth, helping them build workforce development skills. For Marcum, it’s played a huge role in making it through tough times.
“Harvesting has been one of the favorite things I do and it just takes my mind off of everything,” said Marcum. “I help the plants, and it helps take care of me in the process too."
Like many other non-profits, the organization has had to make some adjustments and adapt to this now ever changing reality—not only facing challenges connecting with youth, but adapting to local mandates as well.
“The majority of our produce goes through Arctic Harvest deliveries to restaurants. So, our main distributor, when the pandemic first began, they saw a large drop in restaurant sales as people were starting to stay home more and weren’t able to eat out as much,” said greenhouse manager, Ryan Witten.
With the help PPP loans and CARES Act funding to Alaska Behavioral Health, Seeds of Change staff continued to push on, getting youth back to work with safety measures in place in order to continue growing fresh healthy food, and minds.
“Seeing the team come together and really pull through to help each other out and extend hands to help each other, I think that it’s just all been really inspirational. Especially watching everyone grow and adapt quickly—just like the plants that we grow here,” said lead greenhouse grower, Sara Renard.
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