Dream Quest is a youth partnership program in Willow Creek providing youth with vocational and creative opportunities. One of their programs, Garden to Teen, inspires youth to grow, harvest and eat healthy food. The program was launched in January 2016, and is now in its second year. Participants learn and experience how their food choices impact their personal wellbeing by participating in growing food and preparing healthy, nutritious meals for themselves and others. It includes weekly cooking classes, field trips to local farms, the Afterschool Snack Experience, family and community dinners, plus training in CPR/first aid, safe food handling and fire extinguishers. It is an exciting culinary journey for youth ages 11-18.
Willow Creek and Humboldt County as a whole is a virtual cornucopia. Surprisingly, less residents know how to access fresh local foods than one might expect. And for those who do know and appreciate local produce, there is always something new to learn, and hands-on experience is the best. Dream Quest youth, family and visitors have the opportunity to stroll through the garden, picking and tasting fresh food on the spot.
Garden to Teen utilizes the Dream Quest Demonstration Permaculture Garden, local farms, orchards and home gardens to learn how to grow, harvest and glean produce. Each week the cooking class strolls through the garden to forage fresh produce and herbs. The youth proudly share their newfound knowledge with friends and family. Garden workshops are open to the entire community and include pruning, a seed and plant exchange, permaculture, hugelkulture, mushroom cultivation and more.
Youth also learn job skills and demonstrate healthy options to the community by participating in community events. The past year they served fresh, healthy food at Unity!, Bigfoot Days, and Taste of Willow Creek. The skills they learn will lead to job opportunities. One of the 13-year-old cooking class students attended training by Food for People, and then served at the Free Summer Lunch Program. The potential is unlimited. At Dream Quest we believe, “The shorter the food chain, the better the food.”