<3 New staff and new adventures, thank you for a truly wonderful year <3
<3 New staff and new adventures, thank you for a truly wonderful year <3
<3 New staff and new adventures, thank you for a truly wonderful year <3
AV staff and youth attended the NESAWG Conference in Baltimore on November 10. Here's a reflection from AV educator Souhair Kenas, who coordinated parts of the Youth Track before and during the conference:
As we walk through the dark, wood-paneled lobby of the Lord Baltimore Hotel, a grand baby piano greets us, almost out of place in this lobby full of bustling teens, all excited to play their role in NESAWG's annual It Takes a Region Conference. A little background about NESAWG - the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group - its central role is to bring together farm and food systems practitioners within the Northeast region to collaborate, discuss, exchange solutions and ideas on how to heal the chronic food systems that exist.
After we grabbed our name tags and a muffin (or two) we settled into preparing our workshop. We, the NYC Youth Food Justice Network, started off the youth track programming with a workshop themed Youth Leadership vs. Youth Empowerment. We explored the differences and the similarities and what that means in the work we do as individuals, organizations and a network. It flowed beautifully as we broke the ice, and did several interactive activities that got everyone moving and excited.
The words of Cesar Chavez among others sparked conversation: "History will judge societies and governments - and their institutions - not by how big they are or how well they serve the rich and the powerful but by how effectively they respond to the needs of the poor and the helpless.” The quote was recreated into a powerful skit by a group of teenagers, some of whom had never met before that very moment. In that instant, having been a part of starting the conversation, creating the workshop - I was moved to tears. There was a huge rush of emotion that subsided all the anxiety that comes with presenting a workshop to a room of practical strangers for the first time, a realization that this movement was bigger than me, bigger than the three acre farm in Brooklyn I love so much, bigger than all of us. It was the future and these kids in this very room are the determining factors in how it’ll play out.
Well, that is all for now - to another memorable year at NESAWG, thanks again and see you next year!
Fresh food, farm tours, summer-like sun, and fall fun silliness - what a wonderful Harvest Festival with over 1,000 friends, family, and neighbors joining us on the farm! Thank you to all the vendors and volunteers who came out to support, special shout-out appreciations to Baked, Pizza Moto, and sushi-chef Eri for their delicious in-kind donations and the Red Hook Playgroup, Red Hook branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, and Borough Bees for bringing awesome programming for the kiddos. And of course thanks to our neighbors John and Xiomara for bringing their baby goats and ponies!!! Enjoy the pics and see you on the farm again soon!
A report-back from Melina Valle, a first year apprentice at AV:
On October 12, 2017, Added Value got the chance to go upstate to Rise and Root farm in Chester New York. Rise and Root Farm is a community focused farm, just like Added Value. But, it has a whole different story. Rise and Root Farms came about when four incredible women dreamed of farming together. Their dream that was not so easy to achieve. When they came up with the idea of starting a farm, everyone laughed at them. They told them that they could not because they were women. Men usually dominate in the field of agriculture. But, that did not stop them, they searched and searched for land and fortunately they were able to find a HUGE amount of land in Chester, New York. And, for the past 3 years, Rise and Root farm has been a successful operation.
During our trip to the farm we were able to meet Karen Washington, one of the founders of Rise and Root. She gave us a small tour of the farm; explaining its origin and how they maintain the farm. Soon after the tour we went right to work and helped them out with some weeding and clearing beds. After some muddy work in the rain, we sat with Ms. Washington and got to know each other well. We told her about our mission at Added Value. Then, she told us her story. She is a community activist who cares about helping make NYC a greener place and providing food for her community. Before cofounding Rise and Root Farms she started her a long time ago turning empty lots into beautiful gardens for the community and speaking out to protect and preserve these spaces.
Ms. Washington was visibly moved to see how motivated we at Added Value feel—just like she does—about our communities and agriculture at such a young age. Ms. Washington is an inspiring woman who we can all learn from. I definitely did. I learned that we should all care for our community and bridging the gap between the people to help protect and preserve nature.
For all our farm-loving Farsi speakers, check out this great little segment about us on Voice of America - Persian. Starts at 3:38 and runs through the end, featuring AV apprentices Eddie and Nia, and staff Corey!
Thanks to all who came to our Summer Kick-Off Party on June 29! We had great turn-out, gorgeous weather, and tons of little ones celebrating our Sweet Sixteen. Huge appreciation to our generous neighbors who donated food and drinks: Pizza Moto, Calexico, Hometown BBQ, and Sixpoint Brewery. Special shout out to the AV youth for their awesome farm tours and beekeeper Tim for the demo hive and honey tasting!
Hey there everyone!
This is Mickhel, an Added Value apprentice! I am here to inform you about my experience helping to host Added Value’s CRAFT day a few weeks ago.
On Saturday May 20th, Added Value invited a few other groups from the Youth Food Justice Network to visit us at the Red Hook Community Farm as part of our the monthly CRAFT series. These groups included Friends of the Highline, East New York Farms, and NEBHDCo. There were about 26 people present to learn about Added Value and help us to work towards achieving the farms goals for the day.
Now you may not know what a CRAFT Day is. It might sound like we are just being creative on the Farm. But, it is actually a chance for different young people who are working at food justice organizations to come together and share their knowledge, experiences, and ideas.
On the morning of CRAFT Day, Anthony, Nelly, Judelis, Souhair, Corey, Saara, and I were ready for our guests. We waited for many groups and volunteers to arrive. While we waited, we prepared many exciting things to do that day and end it off with something relaxing, and enjoyable.
Once everyone arrived, we had two spine tingling icebreakers that got everyone going, and were led by Nelly and Anthony. These icebreakers are always a great way for everyone to get comfortable with each other. Though you may not know everyone, I believe Added Value’s icebreakers, will have you knowing, talking, and laughing with people that you have just met. When these two friendly icebreakers were finished, we got in a circle led by Corey to divide out the tasks and groups. Each group had about 5 or 6 people that were led by Added Value apprentices.
As everyone worked, we became friends. People chatted and we had many laughs. My experience was very enjoyable because of the polite and hard-working in the group and on my team. As I demonstrated the use of the gardening scythe, people were happy to see the scythe in action. My team finished weeding about 2 or 3 beds of kale, while avoiding cilantro. We cut them, and I had half of my team pulling out roots, while the other half placed them in wheel barrels. The part of my team that had wheel barrels rapidly brought them down to a large pile of wood chips. We had to build something called a J-row. This is for good, and nutrient rich compost. Once my team had finished with their tasks, some people helped other groups with their work. I led the other part of my group in a farm tour and told them about the ways we prepare our compost. I also informed them about the vegetables and plants we have on the farm. I showed and let them touch/smell/taste the mint, cilantro, sage, crimson clover, garlic, and many other things.
In the end, we got together and spoke about our accomplishments for the day. This was an ending circle led by Souhair and Corey. After this, we all took a group picture and had a make-it-yourself lunch with bread, cheese, jelly, peanut butter, hummus, and turkey.
By participating in CRAFT Day, I got the chance to communicate with others, practice speaking about the farm, and lead activities with them. I tried to make them feel as comfortable as possible, while being in an unfamiliar area. I hope that through more experiences like this, I can increase my communication and leadership skills.
See you next time!
AV Executive Director Saara Nafici was named one of the 2017 40 Under 40 Rising Stars of NYC Food Policy by the NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College. "The Food Policy Center’s honorees include policymakers, educators, community advocates, farmers and innovators who are making significant strides to create healthier, more sustainable food environments and to use food to promote community and economic development."
Check out her fellow stars and all the amazing work they are doing here:
Dear Farm Diary,
It’s Nia here! I’m writing to you today to talk about my experience at the People’s Climate March, which happened on April 29th, 2017.
Now you may be asking yourself ‘what is the People’s Climate March?’ The People’s Climate March is an event for people who feel like climate change really affects them and their environment to come out and advocate for global action. It was a big protest that happened in Washington DC and all around the country and across the globe where more than 200,000 came together to take a stand for what we believe in.
This was part of my reasoning for attending the People’s Climate March. I viewed it as me being part of a movement that’s main purpose was to, or is to, bring about changes that would help the people living on this earth right now and new people to come in the future. My second reason for attending the People’s Climate March was because it was going to be the first march I’ve ever been to!! My third reasoning for attending the People’s Climate March was to learn about new and/or more factors that has resulted from climate changes and to expand my general knowledge of the People’s Climate Movement.
Now let me take you back in time to the morning of the march….
The morning started off with Corey, Thomas, Anthony, and I meeting at 5am and loading snack bags, posters, bottles of water and probably an emergency bag into an Uber during a surprise thunderstorm! We took the Uber from Red Hook to the coach bus at Borough Hall. The bus ride to Washington D.C. was quiet and kind of warm because everyone was mostly sleep or just kept to themselves.
When we arrived at the march along other organizations that went (East New York Farms, The Friends Of The Highline, NEBHDCo, and many more!!) we (Added Value) discussed what the day was going to look like for us, which was marching, short and simple. Before Corey and I took the steps to joining the march we saw this cart filled with hats, buttons, etc pertaining to the People’s Climate March, the Women’s March and Donald Trump. Corey and I were so excited over the SWAG that we forgot that the other half of our group had gotten caught up in the march already and we had to leave the cart behind and join the rest of our group.
During the march I saw cool and different posters filled with different ideas and perspectives about people’s feelings towards Climate Change and how it affects them. One poster that stood out to me was this poster that these two older women were holding captioned with “We’re marching for our grandkids.” This poster stood out to me because it made me come to this realization of how the generations to come also needs an earth to call home and how this earth is like the only earth we have and how we really need to protect it, keep it in shape, and make it still suitable for life to still go on. Throughout the March I got to lead in the group chant “Cook organic not the planet” which was pretty cool and loud.
We ended off the day and the march by taking pictures of the White House, the Washington Monument, hearing people voice out their opinions about Donald Trump, and more. Then we met up with East New York Farms and Friends of the Highline to do a debrief about the day. Then we ate pizza & ice cream before getting on the bus back to Brooklyn. We got home around 10pm and had our closing circle where we talked about what we learned and took away from the People’s Climate March.
If you were wondering, we still didn’t get our hats because the man with the cart was nowhere to be found.
By Becky Maldonado, (AV youth program alum)
Just Food held their annual Just Food Conference on March 12 and 13, and many people of different backgrounds came together to participate in the Food Justice and Urban Farming movements. Individuals took part in sharing their knowledge, voicing their opinions, taking action to solve problems, and experimenting with ideas that revolve around food.
This year Just Food wanted to create a Youth Track, to give youth who attend the conference their own non-adult dominated space, where they can socialize with people their age. Thus hopefully empowering them to leave their marks on the conference, while also showing adults how the youth are already taking action to benefit the movement. To make the Youth Track possible, Just Food asked us (and some other organizations) to help plan the Youth Track.
Nia, Thomas, and I came together once every week to plan out what activities and food we would have at the Youth Track. The activities helped youth break the ice with each other and encouraged mingling with strangers. While the food ensured all the youth had tasty seasonal foods to keep them awake and happy. These two things came together to strengthen and create connection between groups as we all continue our journey of learning and advocating for the mobilization of our movements.
My highlight of the conference was learning and seeing people take actions to solve problems. During the conference I learned: rice can be grown in New York, people are coming together to house immigrants and Muslims on farm land to protect them from the policies of the current presidency, and people are organizing a way to employ previously incarcerated individuals through cooking.
Not only was the conference empowering because I saw people learning, organizing, and taking action, but also because our part in the Youth Food Justice Network was inspiring others from other states to create something similar to our own project. The Youth Food Justice Network aims to connect youth-led groups from all around New York, to participate in learning about and taking place in the Urban Farming, and Food Justice movements. Knowing that other states have groups like us really makes me feel like a difference is being made. Especially since the youth are the future of our country, it puts me at ease to know we will work to push policies in the future that benefit our movements.
After being a part of such a wonderful event I hope to find new ways of supporting the movements. I wish to experiment on the Red Hook Community Farm by attempting to grow rice, just to show people who visit, like I was shown, that it's possible to grow rice here, not just in Asia. I also want to share with people the knowledge and inspiration I gained from attending the conference.
Overall I never felt more important and inspired. It was made clear that we aren’t just taking part in history, but we are creating it. The Just Food Conference made it possible for people of all backgrounds and ages to share how they are involved in the movements. Be it through advocacy, employment, soil sciences, cooking, or urban farming. Everyone mattered in that space, and everyone was free to share ideas and information. The conference successfully made the connections I have to hundreds of people out there very real, and I can’t be thankful enough for that.
You wouldn't believe the gorgeous leafy greens and root veggies we still have growing in the fields: kale, rainbow chard, collards, salad mixes, carrots, radishes, and more. Since our markets are done, we need you to COME AND HARVEST! Saturday, 11/17, 10am-12pm - take all you can carry! We'd hate to see good food go to waste so please invite anyone and everyone who likes fresh veggies. No need to RSVP but please do bring bags.
Check out more AV news in the December newsletter!
Thank you to the Merck Family Fund for providing support for travel and accommodations so we could attend this conference!
A report back from AV youth farmer Nelly Burgos:
Earlier this month, on November 10 & 11, me and my team at Added Value were able to go on an over night trip to Hartford, Connecticut. We, as a part of the Youth Food Justice Network (YFJN) team, were invited to attend the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) Conference. The YFJN is a collaboration of urban farms and food justice projects in New York City that started in 2015. We are all working towards the same goal, which is to benefit our communities through farming and educating youth. At the Conference, we were excited to network with other youth and food justice advocates, to share our experience with each other, and to build bonds that expand the youth empowerment and food justice movements.
On Thursday night, our YFJN teams all met up around 10-11pm at the Hartford Hampton Inn. We checked into our rooms for the night and prepared for the long conference day ahead. I was able to practice and organize along with several of my other coworkers on a presentation that we were going to give at the conference the next day.
On Wednesday morning, we all woke up extra early to get breakfast and start our day. The conference started at 8:00 am. When we arrived I was astonished by how many people actually attended this regional event. Personally, I’ve attended several conferences and workshops, but this had a certain vibe. Usually we attended events that consist of a couple hundred people, but there were easily close to one thousand at the NESAWG conference. Knowing that for some of my coworkers this was their first conference experience made me feel proud. I was able to be a part of this moment when youth from several states came together to address our issues and give ourselves a voice.
At the first workshop of the day, me and my coworkers from East New York Farms and Friends of the Highline presented in front of at least 80 people. We were extremely nervous but we were able to pull through as we got into the flow of talking about the work that we do. After we finished our presentation, we were able to attend many other workshops that focused on youth leading youth, adultism, and even a workshop that gave the youth a voice to speak on politics following the presidential election.
In the middle of the day, a group of us went to a near by restaurant to have lunch together. We all got pizza and hung out with new folk. We ended up doing one of social media’s trending challenges, The Mannequin Challenge. It basically had all of us freeze in action and take a video with music playing.
After our fun lunch, Corey, the youth leader at Added Value, led a facilitated conversation in order for us to get to know each other better and to talk about how we can better connect with each other in the future from such distance across the northeast. We brainstormed as a large group and ended up coming up with the idea that we would stay in touch through social media and plan more events of our own that would involve the same faces meeting and getting familiarized with each other.
After the last workshop of the day was over, we did once more mannequin challenge before we finished the day off with a dinner that the conference provided—it was marvelous. There we all got to sit and take a break from everything we had learned. I was able to ponder back on my experience, and I realized that going through the time and effort of planning to host workshops and planning how to represent your organization wasn’t for nothing. All of us youth simply attending and giving ourselves a voice, exchanging contact information by will, was spreading promotion of the movement on its own. The idea of networking, speaking up, and connecting to others has become natural as I get accustomed to the conference routine. I was able to learn that we are not the only ones within this movement, and that adultism is becoming a more familiar topic in society. I see that not only youth but some of our adults are passionate about a change that will make space for the youth of this generation to step up.
Check out more AV news in the November newsletter!
Thanks to all who celebrated with us at the 13th annual Red Hook Harvest Festival - we had wonderful weather and lots of fun seeing old faces and making new friends. The epic hot pepper challenge was truly stunning to behold and the kids apple bobbing was toothy hilarity. Enjoy these pics from the day and happy harvest!
Last month, our intrepid Education Manager Corey headed to New Jersey for a intensive backpacking training led by the Appalachian Mountain Club's Youth Opportunities Program. They provide everything we'll need to take youth on wilderness trips - from compasses to boots to tents. Through the generous support of the William T. Grant Foundation, we will be camping next year with our youth, and Corey's training was the first step in getting us ready for the wilds!
Check out more AV news in the October newsletter!
Welcome to the newest addition to the AV team - NYCHA Farm Manager Shannon Outlaw! After graduating from the Green City Force farm corps 3 years ago, Shannon worked with landscapers and on an organic farm. She is a passionate herbalist and a budding permaculture designer. We are excited to have her on board to mentor the GCF team and keep the NYCHA farm in tiptop shape! Thank you to the Fund for Public Health NY for funding for this position, and Green City Force for a wonderful ongoing partnership.
Check out more AV news in the September newsletter.
Our friends at Shannon Hummel/Cora Dance invite youth and adults to join in a free dance workshop, meet Cora staff and students, and learn about Cora programs - on the farm! Saturday, August 13 and 20 at 11:30am and again at 1pm. "Cora Dance provides a space where ALL people come together to celebrate, take pride in and gain appreciation for all types of dance, unifying and uplifting the entire community by providing exceptional art for everyone." Wear your farmer hats and dancing shoes!
Check out more AV news in the August newsletter.
A report-back from Katherine Cunalata- As a new member of Added Value's Red Hook Community Farm for the summer of 2016, I was given the opportunity to visit another farm called Life Do Grow in Philadelphia. The youth farmers, having a perfect combination of personalities, welcomed myself and my coworkers on their farm. With open arms and a whole lot of excitement, they got the chance to show us how they get things done over in Philly. What they showed us ranged from composting to aquaponics and a little cozy education center. After my trip to Philly, I realized that the majority of New York community farms know a few things about what is called the Food Justice Movement.
This was a day where other farms got the chance to come together and talk about how the Food Justice Movement should be approached as well as what the raw definition of Food Justice is. The day ended with a lot of encouragement towards the youth to take a stand against this issue by starting at the root of it: food distribution. Many discussed trying to help the community make healthier food choices, not only for the sake of eating better but for the sake of nipping at the starting point of most issues closely related to the reason why the Food Justice Movement came into existence like jobs, the economy, immigration, greed in the food industry (and other companies/ industries), hunger, etc. The list continues because our most important source of sustenance, food (water is just as important too), is being manipulated and turned into a "commodity" rather than a key need for human survival. New York City's community farms are aiming to raise awareness about this issue and encourage young people to think deeper about what really exists behind the scenes in terms of what we eat, how we got it, who made it, and so on.
We live in a world where we turn the other cheek in order to find some bliss in ignorance but this place will definitely find a way to open our eyes a day too late. Therefore, the solution starts with the youth of today who will drive tomorrow into a better future so that generations later will know some humanity and peace.
Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate the start of summer and raise funds for youth farming in Red Hook! Special appreciation to Hometown BBQ, Calexico, and Sixpoint for donating delicious food and drink, and Ushka for setting a chill mood with her musical mixing. What a beautiful evening with you all on the farm!
Stellar farm apprentices Becky, Sherwin, Otis, Daejah, Olga, and Kelly graduate high school this month! Congrats to them for keeping their heads in the books and their hands in the soil. They're off to Medgar Evers College, Parsons School of Design, Kingsborough Community College, SUNY-Buffalo, and SUNY-Broome.
Check out more AV news in the June newsletter.