From the Farmer- Week of December 9th, 2016

Published on February 2, 2017 under From the Farmer
From the Farmer- Week of December 9th, 2016

December 9th, 2016

Greetings Farm Friends!

Happy December! As we move into the winter months, we at the Youth Farm have been busy wrapping up our 2016 season at the farm and looking ahead to the wonderful things that 2017 will bring.

Even though the farm season has come to an end, our youth programs operate year long and are only gaining steam for the cold months ahead. After the excitement of the Harvest Festival (attended and run by all 27 Farm Club students, HSPS students, and many students from our sister school SDL), Farm Club continues to learn how to maintain specific pieces of a farm to balance the whole. We’ve had lots of fun winterizing the farm by pulling and chopping crops, layering those crops (at that point we’re referring to them as nitrogen-rich greens) with carbon rich browns in our compost bins, planting a bed of garlic, and casting compost on some beds and covering with burlap to protect the soil in the off-season. Our students are even catching on to the names of some of the weeds they pull on the farm- freshman farmer Jaden always knows where the hairy galinsoga is! Up next is an inter-youth program work and food prep day! Farm Club, YLC (Youth Farm Leadership Council), and some members of Green Team will harvest the remaining kale, mustards, salad mix, turnips, beets, and radishes to create salad cups and juice to sell to their peers! The idea originated with YLC last year and we’re expanding it this year, complete with hand drawn PSA style posters about the healthfulness of specific fruits & veggies and the roles specific nutrients play in our bodies.

YLC, comprised of Rebecca Dufresne, Brianna Pantone, Donnyv Pierre, Thomas Heslop, Marie Massier, Wanda Estil, Michael Afriye, Anslem Joseph, and Yolanda Volcimus, will spearhead the salad cup sale in addition to their new research project on cafeteria lunches. They and their peers want to know more about where their school lunches come from, the healthfulness of school lunches, and brainstorm ways to improve the quality of the lunches. So far they’ve learned how school cafeterias are recipients of products from the larger industrial food system and that decisions about the whole foods that make up the lunches are made at the Federal level. YLC will share their findings with their peers and present at a conference in the coming year. They’re also still maintaining their worms! They transferred their red wigglers (along with Farm Club) from the small bin they built earlier in the year to a worm tower donated to the program. YLC is also collaborating with the HSPS Green Team and is currently helping to manage the recycling and upcycling initiatives and educating classes on how to sort their waste.

Go Green! students are connecting the dots between sustainability and wellness in our Health & Nutrition unit. We began the unit exploring the function of food in our communities. The students interviewed each other to learn the similarities and differences in their food habits and the many ways that food makes us feel good. Many of our students’ heritages are from the Caribbean, West Africa, and Southeast Asia which is reflective of our school’s neighborhood of Crown Heights/E. Flatbush. They are learning the variables affecting many people’s accessibility to quality food that is enjoyable and that bodies need to function. Taking a stab at budgeting for living expenses with a NYC minimum wage income, our students realized how common it is for families to be food insecure (little to no access to quality, healthy, culturally appropriate food). We continue the unit with a look into nutrients and their benefits for the body.

On the adult programming front, The Youth Farm’s now 5-year-old farm Urban Farm Training Program, graduated nine more adult beginning farmers this year! Ranging in age, gender, ethnicity and in career pursuits, this incredible group helped to manage the farm, and loved engaging and working alongside our six Youth Tillers. We celebrate and strive to maintain a space for inter-generational learning. Side by side, young adults and UFTP students worked the land, harvested crops, attended customers at market, joined in two potlucks celebrating our cultural culinary traditions, and ran a very fun Harvest Festival. The UFTP has now graduated 36 adults, each departing with Certificates in Urban Agriculture. 60% of grads have continued in the field of farming and food justice, starting farm businesses or working in advocacy or education. A new and exciting partnership with Farm School NYC, supported by the USDA, means that future graduates will have a USDA-vetted Certificate.

The Youth Farm’s Immersion Field Trip program, led up by UFTP’15 grad, and founder of The Brooklyn Greenhouse LLC, Janelle Carter Small, saw tremendous growth this year. We hosted 21 school groups for a total of 32 trips, with over 850 students diving into dynamic hands on STEAM-based education! We look forward to hopefully hosting a Professional Development Day for teachers on June 8, 2017 – so please stay tuned!

Finally, we are excitedly looking forward to BK Farmyards Annual Winter Farmraiser, happening next week on Monday December 12th. Like in years past, our wonderful friends at 61 Local will be letting us take over the bar for the night and host our farmer friends in a night of celebrating another successful season. We at the Youth Farm have planned a tasty menu, complete with some of our last late-season veggies, and have organized another wonderful Holiday Market featuring hand-made, artisan products from our farmer friends throughout the City. With a selection of medicinal teas, salves, seed calendars, holiday wreaths, and more you’re sure to find the perfect holiday gift, made with love in NYC. We hope you’ll stop by for a drink, a bite, and to celebrate another year farming in the city. All tips and food proceeds will benefit the Youth Farm and help us continue to do the work that we love in 2017. We hope to see you there!


Molly, Sawdayah, Erin, and the Youth Farm team

Farmer Fact

Farmers often get asked, what do they do in the winter? While Sawdayah will be busy with leading CAN, Farm Club and YLC, Erin and Molly have begun chipping away at lots of off-season admin work, including the intricate process of crop planning (minimum of 80 man hours required!) for 2017. Thanks to diligent record keeping all season by youth and adult farmers, we can plan for crop rotations that help maintain healthy soil and balanced ecosystem on the farm.

In winter farm planning spirit, Sawdayah and Ms. Bitler’s Farm Club also recently completed a crop planning exercise. Figuring out new homes for over 150 different crops is no small feat, and we’re amazed at the critical thinking and problem solving these students did to crop plan a space!


Lady Day’s Oatmeal-Cranberry Bars (revised from Martha Stewart)
These bars are a favorite among our youth and adult farmers alike!


3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated cane sugar (or other sugar substitute)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup whole wheat flour, (any other type will work as well; spooned and leveled)
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
1 cup cranberries
Coconut oil to coat pan

*Serves about 16 
*Store in an airtight container


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; grease paper with coconut oil.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together butter, sugars, egg, salt, vanilla, and cinnamon until smooth. Add flour, oats, and cranberries; fold in just until combined.
  3. Spread batter in prepared pan, and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift cake onto a work surface; cut into 16 bars.