Harlem Grown is a non-profit organization that inspires youth to engage in hands-on urban farming by transforming vacant lots into flourishing urban farms. Harlem Grown doesn’t just grow vegetables, it grows little people. However, HG faces two main problems: volunteer retention and a lack of formal distribution networks. Our team decided to tackle the volunteer retention problem with a simple, pragmatic solution: the Punch Card. A punch card is a win-win-win: it helps staff keep track of which students volunteer frequently, encourages students to feel a sense of ownership over their volunteering, and results in more frequent return to the farm. We began prototyping on April 22, and were thrilled to see how excited the kids were about their new punch cards. We are currently collecting the first round of feedback for our punch cards, and working on ways to optimize the punch cards and make them a sustainable practice. For future direction, we thought of 2 ideas to deal with the distribution challenge. First, an easy-to-input Excel spreadsheet can collate all relevant data about visitors. Second, we hope that a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box with vegetables of the week along with community-sourced recipes will create an uniform system of weekly distribution.

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