Ecosystem of healthy food and entrepreneurship passes through education

When 15-year-old Natalia Davis started her summer internship, she never thought it would turn into an opportunity to become an urban farmer.

This farm, located in the heart of Milwaukee in the Sherman Park neighborhood, features rows of hydroponic machines growing a multitude of plants and herbs: Everything from mint to red butter lettuce. “Planting all of this is really cool, and it gives me a really amazing feeling,” Natalia said.

It’s all part of a program called Cultivate — an entire ecosystem in Sherman Park, connecting food security, community and employment for a primarily Black neighborhood that has been long underserved. The UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Wisconsin supports this work – and these summer students – through an $80,000 grant to further the mission.

Cultivate, led by Jason Mims, gives high school students an opportunity to grow plants in a hydroponic system by Fork Farms, harvest them, and prepare them for purchase. The students learn entrepreneurial skills, plus marketing and personal finance, through the process. “We want them to identify their gifts and talents and passions and see the value that it can have,” Jason said.


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