Comer Crops Crew leader Kelly Jones offering Dr. Alley an arugula blossom in one of two hoop houses that grow food year round.

This spring, world-renowned scientist and Comer Fellowship founding mentor, Dr. Richard Alley, visited the Comer Education Campus. Richard, who was in town ahead of the 2024 Climate of H.O.P.E Conference, joined Teens Take On Climate for science classes at Gary Comer College Prep and met with young people on campus.

The Comer Education Campus is home to a host of green initiatives including indoor hydroponics to the 1.75-acre Youth Education Garden replete with chickens, bees, and food forest. After a tour, Dr. Alley joined the Comer Crops Crew for a chat over lunch. He shared his experience with 4H and summer jobs working on local farms and asked if anyone had grown up with gardening before they joined the crew. The conversation turned to the experiences that led each young person's actions toward environmental justice, sustainable community food systems and green careers.

Following Passions Toward Sustainable Futures

Jabari Ermon, 20, Comer Crops Crew member. Approaching modern problems in sustainability through a creative lens, Jabari is spearheading upcycling efforts on the farm.

“I didn't have much experience with farming. I've grown a little bit of plants on the side, but nothing too major. The thing that really made me fall in love with it is coming into adulthood and realizing how hard it is to secure food that's healthy on a consistent basis. It’s just giving me so many ideas for what I want my life to look like - sustainable practices and not going to McDonald's every day.“

—Jabari Ermon

“I fortunately had a grandmother who loved gardening, and she had this giant pear tree in her backyard. I would sit with her and weed the flowers with her until I go, all right, I'm bored. And then I'd run inside. My grandmother ignited my love for the environment and plant learning which is why I'm a farmer and planning on having my own farm one day."

—Kelly Jones

Kelly Jones, 24, Comer Crops Crew Beekeeping Lead. After her first summer on the farm, Kelly secured a second internship with our beekeeping partner The Hive Supply where she is now training to care for bees all over the city and gaining valuable farmers market experience. She is an entrepreneur working to launch her own tea company with the management and agriculture skills gained on the Comer Crops Youth Farm.
Anthony Bonds, 24, former Green Teen & current Comer Crops Crew member.

"My gardening career began here, and it was coming back full circle because I'm actually into it. I began in 2014, as an after-school activity. [Then] I was looking for money and something to do with myself [and found] this opportunity with Green Teens."

—Anthony Bonds

“I would spend summers in elementary school at grandparent’s house, and my sister would make us garden with her. And then in high school, she got chickens and we took care of them. She donated six of her chickens to this farm. I've always wanted my own farm or just a big space that I can garden because of her. I'm happy that in my adulthood I was reintroduced to green spaces through the help of Comer Crops. The program helped me recall my passion for growing. Everything I learn on the farm I use to make my home garden come to life”

—Camryn Miguest

Camryn Miguest, 24, Comer Crops Crew Leader is pursuing full-time employment in food sovereignty and community-based work.