FOCUS: Los Alamos Youth Food Project – LAYFP

Former Los Alamos Middle School 8th grade teacher Stephanie Krantz  spearheaded a community garden project that is designed to be driven by the youth of Los Alamos. 

Stephanie's "seed" for the project came from the book, "Seedfolks" by Paul Fleischman.

In Seedfolks, a young Vietnamese-American girl plants a few lima bean seeds in a garbage infested vacant lot in memory of her father. Soon others discover her garden and begin to lend a hand. The garden becomes a place to meet others, to heal old wounds and to expand understanding beyond one's own culture. A supportive community develops around the garden with a spirt of discovery and inventiveness.

The LAYFP project's key goal is to develop a community garden adjacent to the Los Alamos Middle School near the new Solar Array and KRSN AM 1490 antenna. The garden will be available to K-12 LA Public School students, to community organizations and to individuals. Other garden locations may be developed as well, including a greenhouse at the Los Alamos Cooperative Market. Students will learn a wide variety of skills by participating in the project, such as biology, environmental studies, communications, marketing, social networking, project planning, engineering and much more.

Although the project is being led, in large measure, by area youth, it is intended to be multi-generational project in nature. Adults are encouraged to get involved. Teens and adults will work together to create a sustainable, local, community based food system.

From to LAYFP blog: The project will provide access to quality, affordable food for LAPS students and low-income households throughout Los Alamos County. The project will impact the entire LAPS school district by providing teachers and students with an opportunity for hands-on service learning activities designed to engage them in personal and social change through sustainable agriculture. Participants will receive: 1) an introduction to sustainable, organic gardening; 2) information about nutrition to assist them in developing an appetite for healthy foods; 3) education about the social, environmental and economic aspects of agriculture and food systems; 4) leadership skills necessary to prepare and deliver community presentations, develop and conduct a public outreach campaign; 5) skills necessary to mentor other students; and 6) increased skill levels in reading, language, writing and mathematics.

The project is supported by a $62,300 service learning grant for a youth-led environmental responsibility project provided by the State Farm Youth Advisory Board.

Right: Kaya and Myella Krantz getting ready to plant seeds at the Los Alamos Cooperative Market. Photo by Greg Kendall/

From the State Farm website: The State Farm Youth Advisory Board is a diverse group of 30 youth, ages 17-20, who were chosen through a competitive process to lead and oversee a $5 million/year signature service-learning initiative. The Youth Board identified the issues, issued competitive grants and will now provide technical assistance, communication and oversight to site grantees.

The Los Alamos Juvenile Justice Advisory Board [JJAB] submitted the grant application to the State Farm Youth Advisory Board, and is overseeing the grant's financial administration. Local State Farm Agent Lou Santoro was instrumental in helping to structure the grant and provided guidance through the State Farm Youth Advisory Board selection process.  The LAYFP is grateful to Los Alamos State Farm Agents Lou Santoro and Sue Hofmann for their tremendous support in this effort.

On Sept. 16, LAMS teacher Stephanie Krantz was presented with the grant money by State Farm Public Affairs Specialist Tamara Pachl on school grounds.

JJAB has contracted with The Los Alamos Family YMCA to manage the grant project work. Sylvan Argo, the Y's Adventure Director leads the projects efforts as it's managing coordinator.

The Los Alamos Public Schools Board of Education has recently approved a Memorandum of Agreement with The Family YMCA that allows LAPS Middle School property to be used by the project for a community garden. The MOA clears the way for work to begin on building a green house, raised planting beds and an irrigation system. Creative solutions for irrigation are needed.

K-Kids from Barranca Mesa Elementary School with progress growing seedlings for the Los Alamos Youth Food Project. Kiwanis is the sponsor of K-Kids. Photo by Don Casperson/Kiwanis K-Kids Adult Mentor.

As the project progresses, there will be many work days at the LA Middle School community garden site. Volunteers will be greatly needed. Check the LAYFP Blog and Facebook page for work days and more information. The project will need many donated supplies and materials. See the FAQs below for more information on requested materials and donations.

Monetary donations are being accepted for the project. Drop off your donation at the Family YMCA (attn: LAYFP).

Listen to the Middle School KRSN Radio AD: RADIO AD

Click the following link to see photos from the State Farm grant presentation held Sept. 16, 2011.   STATE FARM GRANT PRESENTATION.

Click the following link to see a slideshow of the community garden ground breaking work party:  GROUND BREAKING WORK PARTY.

Click the following link to see the State Farm Youth Advisory Board – Los Alamos Youth Food Project Webpage: STATE FARM – LAYFP.

LAYFP Sponsor Logos:

Watch the LA Youth Food Project's first commercial featuring the fabulous Middle School Green Team at their first pep rally and at the Ground-Breaking work party:


Check out the great radio ad about the LA Youth Food Project made by the middle school service learning class.


View the Los Alamos Middle School Rally (November 2011) that helped kick off the project: