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GSA Farms

Program Objectives and Description

Green Street Academy (GSA) Farms is a student-run social enterprise operated by high school students attending Green Street Academy. As an extension of the school’s urban agriculture and aquaculture programs, the enterprise produces a variety of floral, vegetable, and seafood products that are sold to the greater Baltimore community in various venues and packaged formulations.  As a part of this project-based learning, scholars learn essential business skills (such as marketing campaign development, accounting, pricing, and inventory management) and apply those skills while operating a real business.

This experience enhances the overall entrepreneurial spirit of scholars, improves their digital literacy and communication skills, enhances their professional and personal development, while complementing their experience in sustainability and food production. GSA’s partner, Our Dream Foundation (ODF), a Black-owned entrepreneurship training advisory, provides curriculum, instruction, training, and advisement in the development and execution of GSA Farms, starting each summer and continuing through the school year,

More Information About

GSA Farms

GSA Student Participation

This program is open to rising sophomores, rising juniors, and seniors with approximately 10-20 scholars operating GSA Farms each year.  Scholars will begin the program in the summer by participating in a (YouthWorks-paid) six-week intensive training to learn fundamental concepts of business and to formulate the GSA Farms business plan, and then transition to business operations throughout the school year.  During the school year, seniors act as “managers” (CEO, COO, CFO, CMO) and participate in an additional practicum course, taught by ODF consultants, to learn more advanced business concepts and topics. During the school year, scholars are also paid from a donor-raised fund and ultimately through a profit-sharing model.

GSA Faculty Participation

As a Career and Technology pathway high school, GSA has a defined curriculum that prepares students with skills to enter the burgeoning urban food industry, which is driven both by a national trend toward local food production and the existence of urban food deserts.  To deliver the instruction and applied learning in our greenhouses, GSA is staffed by a MSDE-recognized Urban Agriculture Teacher as well as a full-time Farm Manager, who manages the Agri-Tech Center and has brought the U.S. Forestry Service, USDA, and Future Farmers of America, among others, to GSA, secured GSA as the national “Green School of the Year” in 2019, and lead students in enterprise activities, such as selling at farmers’ markets and operating a pop-up shop at RHouse.  In addition, GSA has added the Innovation Center Director, who will coordinate all activities, including entrepreneurship, as well as promote cross-disciplinary programming with the school’s academic pathways.

Program Structure

Summer Program

During the summer, students participate in a five-week intensive training to learn fundamental concepts of business and to gain more exposure to the world of entrepreneurship.  Students are taught by ODF consultants and business leaders in an interactive, fun environment. As part of the curriculum, students learn the essentials of business, evidenced-based entrepreneurship, customer research, marketing, pricing strategies, startup development, accounting statements, e-commerce, and more.  Students also participate in a variety of exercises and activities that enhance their personal development related to areas such as digital communication, personal speaking, college readiness, and financial literacy.  The summer program also includes guest talks from local entrepreneurs who share their stories and lessons learned in business.  The end goal of the summer program is to develop a business plan for the forthcoming school year and set company goals and objectives.  At the conclusion of the summer, students host a business launch event and pop-up store. Additionally, this program will serve as a summer “internship,” where scholars get paid through Youthworks for their participation.

School-Year Program

During the school year, students continue their business studies and operate GSA Farms, servicing individual and industrial clients via online orders, pop-up events, local farmers markets, and other community events.  Students will also receive supplemental coaching and instruction throughout the school year.  Seniors and juniors will have access to a series of courses to help manage the business, with weekly advanced instruction in additional business concepts, such as web/social media analytics, graphic design, data visualization, inventory management, and survey design.  Students will be trained in a variety of digital technologies including Microsoft Excel, Tableau, and Google Analytics.  Every month students will evaluate their accounting statements and web analytics and set new goals.

Outcomes

This program impacts each student’s current and future economic outcomes, broaden their career aspirations, empower their sense of confidence and leadership, and provide them with career-readiness skills that are transferable in the digital economy.  In addition to measuring the financial performance of the student-run business enterprise, the program uses student self-assessments to measure changes in self-confidence, communication skills, problem-solving skills, leadership ability, teamwork, and interest in business/entrepreneurship as a career path. As a result of this program, students are able to:

 

  • Prepare for successful business careers
  • Gain an understanding of current business technology ) i.e., spreadsheet and database software (Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets), digital marketing platforms (Google Analytics), graphic, and web design (Squarespace, Canva))
  • Learn and implement standard accounting and money management practices
  • Gain experience in conducting market and feasibility research
  • Become familiar with real-world inventory and supply chain practice (e.g., ordering equipment and supplies)
  • Develop and implement marketing strategies to service multiple target markets
  • Implement quality control procedures, as applied both to GSA Farms’ products/services and to the mathematical, written, and verbal processes of the business
  • Communicate effectively with a wide range of scholars, students, staff, and community members
  • Enhance decision making and problem solving regarding overall GSA Farms strategies
  • Determine how, when, and by whom the product/service would be produced and delivered (including costs, price structures, production, advertising, and distribution)
  • Become engaged citizens in their neighborhoods and active participants in the global economy.