We hope you have had warm, nourishing, rejuvenating holidays! We’re happy to share some updates with you this January, to shed light on what has been going on with The Youth Farm. While our soil is most certainly frozen, taking a much deserved and needed rest after a long, extremely bountiful season that produced copious healthy crops, we are working away behind the scenes, teaching youth in our Go Green class, organizing our crop plans, placing seed and supply orders, researching and applying for grants and much need funding, as well as taking some time to slow down, vision, and prepare mentally for the growing season! Here are some words from each of us (Molly, Sawdayah and Erin):
Molly here: I’m thrilled to report that the Flower Crop Plan is finished! After multiple hours-long sessions of analyzing weather charts, 2015 sowing logs, 2016-17 seed catalogs and doing lots of math, it’s finished! We are excited to be growing over 100 different flower varieties in 2017, to fill out our 2017 Flower CSA, Market, and Restaurant accounts with all kinds of fresh beauty! Luckily, all seeds desired were happily in stock and those seeds are on their way to us. You may be interested to know that we sow our earliest flowers (Snapdragons, Foxglove, and Scabiosa) in mid-January! Onions will be sown in late January. We are also placing a seed starting soil order with a supplier GreenTree of Vermont. We’ve helped organize a joint order for roughly 10 urban farms and community gardens every year since 2012. Here’s an image of my crop planning (it helps to map it out!):
My time this month will be focused on working with my teammates to submit a much needed grant to fund our wonderful youth leadership programs, headed up by Sawdayah. I will also begin preparing for the arrival of 12 new adult farming students. As some of you may know, we’ve developed an adult farm training program – known as the Urban Farm Training Program – graduating 35 adults since 2012. Beginning last August, we embarked on a wonderful new partnership with Farm School NYC, and will have 12 new adult farming students joining us on the farm in April. These 12 students will receive a Farm School Certificate, and will have also completed several Farm School courses including Training of Trainers, a popular education course; Food Justice, with longtime activist and community gardener Yonnette Fleming; and Botany, with Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Uli Lorimer. We are excited to have a diverse new crew on the farm, and are preparing for their arrival by fine tuning our workshop schedule, syllabus and reading materials, and getting farm supplies in order!
Hello all, Erin here! Like Molly, I’ve been plugging away at the vegetable crop plan, though unlike her, I’m not quite there yet :). I’m nearing the end of planning and will be placing our various seed orders within the week. I’m excited about a few new crops that we’ll be bringing back to the farm this season, including malabar spinach and winter squash, and growing more of crops that were particular hits last season, like some amazing varieties of Caribbean seasoning peppers. I’ll also be sending in some requests for seed donations to some amazing companies that we have been fortunate to have donate to use each year. Next on the agenda, will be to start compiling supply orders- I’ve been pursuing a couple catalogues and dreaming of all the fun (and useful!) farm tools that I’m hoping to order for next season. One item we’ve been dreaming of is a larger shed. If you’ve ever had the chance to peek into our current shed, you know that we store a number of important things in that tiny space, from seeds, to tools, to produce, to condiments for farm lunches! We are definitely at capacity and would benefit from a little more space.
Peace Farmily, Sawdayah here! Our youngest farming students have been wrapping their minds around nutrients and the roles they play in our bodies, nutritional recommendations to the public from the USDA & FDA, and the role that nutrition and health plays in our communities. In Go Green! we’ve had some introductory lessons into the old Food Pyramid model, the recent MyPyramid, and MyPlate diagram. This added nuance to our discussions around whole vs ultra processed foods; some of our students found it backwards that MyPyramid’s grains section is still the largest section of the pyramid instead of vegetables, which can be consumed whole or minimally processed and maintaining a large quantity of their nutrients. Others thought the addition of a person walking up stairs to emphasize the importance of exercise and improving health “one step at a time” and the organization of the food groups as an array instead of a hierarchy suggested a balanced lifestyle for good health. Many of our students have made commitments to themselves or in groups to include more water, fruits, and vegetables in their diets and have begun charting their progress on a weekly basis. Farm Club began work on a series of PSAs that our youth programs plan to color the halls with. Knowing what’s nutritious, how it benefits our bodies, and appropriate quantities can be a lot to navigate for anyone. Taking some inspiration from film posters and NYC Health PSAs, our students are making posters highlighting fruits, veggies, whole grains, the nutrients inside them, and water with fun facts and tips about how to consume more to post around the school. Are there food groups that you feel you could consume more or less of?
We hope you all are enjoying your winter months as well, and are also hatching great plans for the year to come! Spring will be here before you know it!
Molly, Sawdayah, and Erin