Young farmers learn about food, and hard work, at FOOD for Lane County Youth Farm in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — Alex Corridon gets right to the root of the issue: “I know that the food that I’m growing is going to the people who really need it.”

Sweat beads on the 17-year-old’s face as she pulls onions from the dry earth that crunches under her feet as she moves around in it.

“I’ve just always loved gardening,” says Corridon, who graduated a year early in June from Eugene’s Network Charter School. “It’s fun.”

It’s also hard work, as any of the 16 teenagers who are part of the current crop employed this summer by the FOOD for Lane County Youth Farm, a 4.5-acre plot of land off Flamingo Avenue in the Game Farm Road area, will tell you.

“My dad dragged me out here when I was 15 and said, ‘You need to work. Do what I taught you,’ ” says Mercedies Brown, 18, of Springfield, who was home-schooled and earned her high school diploma at 16, and whose family has an acre of blueberry plants.

“I was super-reluctant to do that,” Brown concedes, “but I just kind of fell in love with it.”

The Youth Farm is one of three farm plots on land owned by the Springfield School District, says Ted Purdy, the project’s coordinator for the past 11 years.

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By Mark Baker, The Register-Guard