Off-Farm Income


It is always difficult to quantify what I love about interviewing FFA students the most.  Each time I try I do come back to a common theme, and that is that the projects these students take on are all vision and almost no mitigation due to real-world realities.

As adults when we start a project or business we have to do it within certain confines.  We still need to make the mortgage payment, we don't want to lose our life savings that are in the 401K, we have to keep enough time in our schedule to be a good spouse or parent, etc., etc.  These realities of adulthood can really scale back a project or even make it seem unworkable.

With FFA students they just aren't subject to these things, and they can let their imaginations run wild.  Normally, by the time I have found out about them and invited them to be on the show, these ideas have turned into something wonderful.

That is definitely the case with today's guest, Jayla Washington.  Jayla is in her third year of the FFA at Lowcountry Leadership Charter School in Hollywood, South Carolina.  Prior to entering the FFA Jayla had been observing her grandfather's efforts to serve their community by growing vegetables and donating them to people in need in the surrounding community.  Of course, one of the major aspects of the FFA is service, so when Jayla became a member this seemed like a natural fit for her.

Thus began "Produce For All", which is Jayla's non-profit operation to provide organic, fresh, and healthy food into a local food desert in her area.  This started out with her networking with food banks to get food into these areas, but it has grown.  As of our interview, Jayla has been awarded a $1,000 SAE grant two years in a row.  The first year from the CCOF in Santa Cruz, California, and Bob Evans Farms this year.  Both of these grants have enabled her to expand her operation with equipment so she can produce even more organic produce to donate into her local food desert.

Jayla definitely has a vision.  She is a junior in high school right now, and one of the things she wants to do with this project before she graduates is turned it into a placement SAE for another FFA student.  She is planning on going to college in Alabama to study horticulture, and she wants somebody to continue to run this non-profit while she is away.  So at the same time that she is keeping organic produce flowing into an area where it is really needed she will be creating an SAE opportunity for another student.  Brilliant!

Jayla has discovered a career path that will help her to aid other people in need through being a horticultural therapist.  This was the first time that I had ever heard of this profession, but she explained to me how it works.  She is completely dedicated to service, and it is wonderful to see where is going to take this.

Connect with Jayla's Local Farm on Instagram: