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Solomon Aniemeka's Site Reflection: Rockaway Youth Task Force

On August 18, 2015 a couple of East New York Farms! interns and I journeyed to Far Rockaway to visit a garden site known as the Rockaway Youth Task Force. We were welcomed by two staff members in the program, Kaleel and Jasmine who welcomed us to their garden. Before we started the tour, Kaleel and Jasmine thought it would be a good idea if we could introduce our names and state why we love gardening. During this activity each person learned something new from one another and that gardening has affected our lives in similar ways and that all of us had a common goal to spread gardening throughout our communities.

      


When we began the tour around the garden, I discovered a few interesting facts about the program. To begin with, the RYTF had a strong connection with their community to the extent that people from different sections of the community will come to their garden to plant their own produce. This is extremely important because the RYTF has opened a great opportunity for people to have access to grow there own produce which will better benefit the community in which the use of healthy produce will increase in the environment, thus reducing the production of fatty substance that can weaken and harm the human body. Furthermore, even though the RYTF program hasn’t been around for a long period of time they are still able to access a solar panel that powers electricity throughout their garden. This is really marvelous because ENYF”s program has been here longer than the RYTF, however we only have one solar panel that powers our greenhouse. This goes to show that the smallest garden can accomplish so much with dedication and hardwork. For the next farm trips, I’m looking forward to learning about other youth farm programs and their impact on their communities.  

  



 
The Northeast Regional Youth Food Justice Summit


Youth in the “Sprout-out” led by friends of highline

On May 30, 2015, East New York Farms!/United Community Centers hosted a  Northeast Regional Youth Food Summit and had a great experience with other youth from all over the Northeast Region. The other groups that were involved in the summit were Added Value, BK Farmyards, Community Food Advocates of NYC, The Children’s Aid Society in New York, EcoStation NY, the Rockaway Youth Task Force, Bushwick Campus Youth Food Policy Council, youth from the Groundwork of Hudson Valley & Somerville, High Line Teens, Bronx Works, and youth from Brotherhood Sister Sol. The day started with a breakfast, laughs and energizers led by interns from East New York Farms.  Youth learned West African, West Indian, Latin, and hip hop dances representing the diverse cultures of East New York.


The summit created a shared learning space for youth organizations involved in the food movement through food, environmental, and social justice work. It allowed them to connect with other youth and build strong solidarity bonds towards building a just, equitable and fair food system for all. The youth participated in youth-led workshops, field trips component to local urban farms in NYC and a cooking competition.


The East New York Farms! Project Youth led a hands-on workshop showing the other youth how to build up their own farms and gardens using a trellis system in our own farm on New Lots Ave. Also, the youth from Groundwork Hudson Valley taught about alternative and creative ways to grow food in a big city using hydroponics, a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water without soil. Furthermore, the youth learned about Lunch4Learning’s and EcoStation NY’s fight for universal free school lunch, explored the advocacy process as an extension of food justice, and participated in their selfie campaign and petitions.


 Additionally, the afternoon was quite eventful as the youth helped to make a delicious lunch for everyone. After lunch, the youth visited three farms in the afternoon. The hosts were the Bed-stuy Campaign Against Hunger farm, also known as the Saratoga Urban Agro-Ecological Center. The two other farms that the youth visited were ISO Student Farm in Brownsville and EcoStation NY Bushwick campus Farm. Furthermore, the youth returned to a cooking competition between four groups of youth that were judged by other youth on taste, presentation and creativity. The youth ended the day with a “sprout-out”, in which they were able to give shoutouts to anyone and anything they wanted to about the day.


All in all, it was rewarding that the youth all got to learn about how other youth around the Northeast region address food justice in their communities as a part of a larger movement to build a stronger network of youth food leaders dedicated to establishing a just food system for all! Hence, we are looking forward to our follow-up summit on advocacy this summer and our Fall exchange between the groups. Our goal is not to end the network after this summit but to continue to forge relationships and transform this network into a powerful network of Northeast Regional Youth Food leaders making strides in food justice. 

 
Summer Workshops and Events

Summer is almost here! Join us for workshops, events, and the return of the farmers market.

DOWNLOAD OUR SUMMER CALENDAR HERE.

 
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The mission of the East New York Farms Project is to organize youth and adults to address food justice in our community by promoting local sustainable agriculture and community-led economic development.

East New York Farms! is a project of the United Community Centers in partnership with local residents.

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