Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Setting Standards with the DOE

Historic Moment for NYC School Gardens and Farms: The Youth Farm Requests Your Support 

Since early September the Youth Farm has been unable to distribute, sell, or consume the nutritious produce we grow on our one-acre site. The Department of Education (DOE) decided to work closely with our team to set soil safety standards for NYC school farms & gardens. Together with Cornell Extensions, Cornell Soil Department of Crop & Soil Science, the NY Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture & Markets, Grow to Learn (Grow NYC & Green Thumb) and ATC Lab, we have set the standards! Though our soil has been deemed safe, we continue to eagerly await the finalized standards to go into effect for us to re-open our farmers market and distribute our amazing produce to our committed CSA members.

While this is an amazing moment in school garden history as we are piloting standards for all of NYC, we rely on the income from our farmers market to run our educational programs. So, we are asking for your support in this historic moment that will pave the way for all future NYC school farms and gardens. Our Farm Club is currently frustrated that their cooking programs have ended; our Go Green class has not been allowed to taste anything from the farm during the peak season for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and more; and our community is frustrated when they see so much fresh food going to waste when there is so little fresh, organic, affordable food available in the neighborhood. 

Currently we are the only school farm or garden that the DOE has requested to stop sales of produce, and we're hoping that our work will ensure others do not have to stop their work as well. WHEN YOU SUPPORT US TODAY, YOU ARE SUPPORTING ALL EXISTING AND FUTURE SCHOOL FARMS AND GARDENS WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM THESE NEW STANDARDS.

 The Youth Farm is a production oriented educational farm in central Brooklyn that offers the NYC community of all ages with opportunities to increase their knowledge of the food system and to build high level organic growing skills to share with their communities. The Youth Farm grows organic food and flowers on one acre and sells them to the community and beyond, and provides advanced farm training and leadership opportunities for youth and adults. 

 The Youth farm is designed for experiential educational programs and career training in sustainable agriculture: we have a range of youth programs for students at the High School for Public Service, and also host classes from around the city for hands-on tours and specialized workshops to help teachers teach various units. We provide a space for our community members to get their hands in the dirt and bring their rich agricultural knowledge. Our Adult Farm Training program is an intensive part-time program for individuals who are looking to immerse themselves in farming.