The 'East New York Farms' project is a community development venture in Brooklyn New York that introduced small-scale farming in vacant lots and community gardens, and involved neighborhood residents (in particular local youth) in planting, caring for and harvesting fresh fruits and vegetables. The project was constructed with sustainable development ideas that integrated the community's ecological, economic, educational and esthetic goals. Along with engaging youth in social and environmental change, the East New York Farms project worked to increase community food security through shortening the supply lines of the food system, encouraged local economic development through a weekly farmers' market (June-November), and balanced community development with a productive use of open and green spaces. East New York is a community of approximately 170,000 residents in a 5.6 square mile area located in the eastern part of Brooklyn. The 2000 US Census reported that 86% of the residents are African-American and/or Hispanic, 30% are under 18, and almost 30% live below the poverty line. According to a 1996 study by Pratt Institute graduate planning students, local food stores were capturing only 50% of the expenditures on produce in East New York. Since the start of the farmer's market in 1999, visitors on an average Saturday during the summer numbers approximately 600. The purpose of my study was to explore the impact of participation from the perspective of the youth participants. I interviewed 18 of the 25 interns (age 10-16) after they completed the 2001 season internship. I also re-contacted and interviewed 10 youth from the original sample in 2005. I conducted these follow-up interviews in order to learn about the long-term impact of participation. The initial interviews in 2001 revealed several themes: the significance of having a job; the importance of helping the community; the value of developing interpersonal skills; the meaning of gardening; and the necessity of safe and calming spaces for youth. The follow-up interviews with young people discussed how their early connection with the natural environment alongside caring adults has helped to provide them with skills and experiences that continue to be beneficial years later. This paper offers insights into interns' active participation in improving their social and physical environment, as they also cultivated their sense of self as agents of community change. The young peoples' experiences can inform the development and realization of future projects and offers support for the integration of youth in building sustainable communities.