CORVALLIS, Ore. - Young adults interested in participating in a garden-based Oregon State University research project that pays a summer stipend can sign up now for limited placements in Corvallis and Sweet Home

Participants will earn a $1,200 stipend for completing the program, which runs from January 2011 through December 2011, and will spend up to 12 hours per week learning basic research skills, working in the gardens and handling produce sales. Low-income young adults ages 18-22 are invited to apply.

Recruitment meetings will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. Dec. 11 at Westside Community Church, 4000 S.W. Western Blvd., Corvallis, and from 1 to 2 p.m. Dec. 12 at Sweet Home United Methodist Church, 845 6th Ave., Sweet Home.

The project is funded by the National Institutes of Health to explore health benefits of community-based garden programs.

"Gardening is a great vehicle for healthy eating and physical activity," said Leslie Richards, assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences. Richards is heading up the program and leading research efforts. "We'll be getting our hands in the soil and documenting our experiences," she said.

The gardens are located at two local churches, Westside Community Church in southwest Corvallis and Sweet Home United Methodist Church, which both have existing gardens and low-income food programs.

"Young people at the threshold of adulthood are at a vulnerable point," said pastor April Hall Cutting of Sweet Home United Methodist Church. "We're glad to have a chance to support them in building community and learning skills."

Richards said participants will harvest produce for sale at local farmers' markets. "And they will learn how to create a small business from the ground up," she added. "At the same time, they will also be trained in how to collect research data that documents the successes and challenges of this type of project."

To qualify, youth must earn less than one-and-a-half times the poverty level. For a single person, this means earning less than $16,245, or for a family of four, less than $33,075.

Adults of all ages and income levels can participate as non-paid volunteers in either the Corvallis or Sweet Home garden. For information, contact Leslie Richards, (888) 478-3011 or

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Leslie Richards, (541) 737-1071, toll-free at (888) 478-3011