Roots Rising: Connecting Youth With Land

April 26th, 2019

Jamie Samowitz and Jessica Vecchia are the co-directors of Roots Rising, a youth development program in Pittsfield, MA. Their mission is to empower youth and build community in a place where many young adults need extra guidance.

Jess Samowitz (left) with Jamie Vecchia

Adolescence is a hard time for most everyone–but in Berkshire County, a lot of young people don’t have access to the educational and professional resources they need in order to build prosperous lives for themselves. Jame and Jessica have figure out a way to provide opportunities for these kids by hiring Pittsfield youth to work on farms in the county. A teenager can make $2000 a year by working with Roots Rising, which can really change the way they plan for their future.

Roots Rising also offers financial literacy training with Berkshire Bank, culinary skills by cooking lunch every workday, taking them on field trips throughout the county, and food justice training with organizations like Soul Fire Farm in NY.

Perhaps the most important thing Jamie and Jess have created is a sanctuary for developing adolescents during one of the most vulnerable times of their lives. A deep, connected relationship with one’s environment is an invaluable skill that can make any place, at any moment, home.


—Jane Tekin ’19