NEWARK, NJ – An entrepreneurship program at Essex County Schools of Technology offers nine local students the opportunity to learn key culinary and farming skills that will one day become self-sustaining business leaders.

For the past eight weeks, a group of nine students from Donald M. Payne Sr. School of Technology and West Caldwell Tech have participated in a paid youth entrepreneurship program through the Montclair Community Farm Coalition. Students work 12-16 hours per week and are paid through the Newark one-stop program.

The program currently includes three students from Newark: Pamela Hernandez; Amarri Thomas; and righteousness colon.

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Farm-to-school coordinator at Donald Payne Tech, Amarilys Olivo-Mockabee, said the program aims to get students out of the school building and put them on a path to success.

“It’s one thing when you’re in the classroom learning those things from a book, but our program is about mentoring them,” said Olivio-Mockabee. “It’s about them understanding that this is not just a job. It is a lifetime that you build these skills and partnerships with people. “

However, this path to success starts with a seed-to-table approach. Students first learn various industry skills such as growing their own herbs, salads and products. Once the items are grown and collected, students use what they have grown to create their own products for market and sale.

“We really want to teach them the whole food ecosystem and how to be a good environmental steward,” said Olivo-Mockabee. “It gives students the opportunity to move from the classroom to the real world, where they can translate the skills learned into an actual career experience.”

The program’s partnership with the Montclair Community Farm Coalition also gives students insights into farming skills at the Van Vleck House and Garden and Montclair Farm. By using hands-on hydroponics, growing products, and attending workshops at the Montclair Bread Company, program attendees learn more about the ingredients they grow.

Cathleen DelaPaz, director of academies of career and technical education at Essex County Schools of Technology, stated that the program can particularly benefit students from urban communities where healthy, yet expensive, in-store food options are the way they are Maintain better nutrition.

“Our students come from all over Essex County, and when they sign up for our culinary program, they learn healthy options that can be delicious and not very expensive,” said DelaPaz. “The reality is that you go to a place like Whole Foods where you can get a nice heirloom tomato – that’s unaffordable for many of our students.

“In order for our students to learn the importance of growing from seeds to produce delicious recipes that they can then share with their families and help address some of the health problems that have traditionally plagued their communities, this is it Ultimate goal, “said DelaPaz.

During the eight-week program, students will also learn key skills to prepare for their careers, market and sell their products, and collaborate with other participants.

On April 17, the program ends with an event at Montclair Bread Company 16 Label St. from 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm where the public can purchase the products created, developed and grown by the students.

These items include various foods like handmade pizzas, donuts, herb butters, beverages, and many more.

“Part of our program is focused on getting students ready for work,” said DelaPaz. “We know that there is currently a lack of soft skills in the industry [students] how to work together, solve problems, and be creative – all those communication skills that are necessary to bring an idea to an audience. It’s really exciting for them to see how they do something from concept to development and bring the community together. ”