AV Youth & the Just Food Conference

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.  

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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.

A Year in Farm Fotos!

Greens Glean

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!

AV Crosses State Lines: Our Trip to Connecticut with the Youth Food Justice Network

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!

Head for the Hills!

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!

Photo: YOP

Photo: YOP

Welcome Shannon

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.

Cora Dance Offers Free Workshops on the Farm!

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.

Image: Cora Dance

Image: Cora Dance

Red Hook To Philly: AV Visits Life Do Grow Farm

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.

Sell At Our Market

Are you an artisanal chocolatier or a fermentation aficionado? Do you make a killer salsa or a smokin' hot sauce? We are currently seeking local vendors to join our weekly Saturday farmers market, June 18 to November 19. Test new products, expand your market, and get your goodies out there to the people! We also invite neighborhood organizations to table and promote their Red Hook programs and events. Contact education@added-value.org for more info.

Check out more AV news in the April newsletter.

Conference Round Up

Tis the season for urban farming conferences, and Added Value's youth have been working the circuit! They presented a workshop on youth-led markets at the City Grower's Education Conference in February, the Just Food Conference last weekend, and are heading up to the Bronx for the GreenThumb GrowTogether Conference next weekend. They also accepted the McKinley Hightower Beyah Award as part of the Youth Empowerment Summit planning committee, for excellence in food justice activism!                            

Check out more AV news in the March newsletter.

School for Visual Arts Students Feature AV in New Video

During the fall, we were honored to work with Rebecca, Melanie, Sandra, and Edgardo from the School for Visual Arts to produce a wonderful video featuring Added Value's youth. The video was debuted at our 2015 closing celebration on December 10. Check out fall intern Domingo's farm rap during the closing credits!

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Brownstoner Blog Highlights the NYCHA Farm

"Crown Heights resident Sade Bennett is just one of many Brooklynites benefiting from a growing initiative to create gardens in Brooklyn’s food deserts. Through her work on a single-acre farm, the 25-year-old has learned how to grow and cook produce, bringing her closer to goals of bettering her health and community..."

Read the full article: Multimillion-Dollar Farm Program Aims to Feed Underserved Brooklyn Communities.

AV's Winter "Hiatus"

As Added Value's Director Saara heads out soon for maternity leave, the monthly newsletter will go on hiatus until spring. Does that mean everyone will be hibernating? Of course not! Compost operations continue at full swing, so we'll still need weekly volunteers on Fridays and Saturdays to build and turn hot piles in cold weather. And though we've put the farms to bed for the winter, staff will be eagerly preparing for spring programs and plantings. Time to break out the seed catalogs!

Check out more AV news in the December newsletter.

Youth Food Summit

Added Value's teens have been busy this fall both on and off the farm. Together with EcoStation NYC, East NY Farms!, Teenergetic, the High Line, Community Food Advocates, and the Children's Aid Society, they've been organizing the upcoming Youth Empowerment Summit, an advocacy forum for creating systemic change in the food system. This Saturday, Nov. 7, 9am-4pm, at St. Paul's Chapel - email pcfor.yes@gmail.com for more info.                  

Check out more news in the November newsletter.