From the Farmer- Week of March 10th

Published on March 29, 2017 under From the Farmer
From the Farmer- Week of March 10th
Happy March! Sawdayah here. Our youth are busy busy busy preparing their visuals and presentations for the Just Food Conference and Greenthumb’s GrowTogether Conference! YLC will represent The Youth Farm and HSPS (High School for Public Service) as they share their research on American school lunch programs and their experiences with vermiculture and managing their worm tower. The research process and sharing of their work has been an enlightening experience for the youth and myself. As individuals, we’ve had to move out of our comfort zones, confront issues of time management, fear, self esteem, and accountability to grow; the process is strengthening us as a group. Most of the group will graduate high school this year and our experiences together have me meditating on how Youth Farm activities help our students grow into well rounded, responsible, and thoughtful adults. By working on the farm, participating in inquiry based learning, and contributing to their community by sharing what they’ve learned and leading advocacy efforts they have to use and develop research skills, managing group dynamics, self & group reflection for improvement, and public speaking to name a few. They struggle to understand big issues that are part of complex systems. I am so proud of the intellectual and social work they undertake for themselves and our communities!

This varied and important work cannot be done without the help of a team. If you are interested in serving as a Program Intern for our youth programs with me I’d love to speak with you! Please check the intern description HERE.

Hi farmily, Erin here. This week I am excited to share an exciting project that has been in the works since last fall- our new partnership with New York Cares Farm to Pantry Initiative. We have been huge fans of New York Cares for years, and have been lucky recipients of much needed helping hands and funds through various volunteer days throughout the seasons. However, this year, we are becoming an official farm partner of a new initiative that seeks to connect volunteers and community stakeholders with New York City’s urban farmers and food assistance agencies. The goals of the Farm to Pantry initiative are 3 fold- to promote access to fresh, local produce in communities most in need; to foster the relationship between NYC community members and their food source; and to transform the urban landscape by revitalizing blighted properties with community farms supported by New York Cares, their partners, and local residents. With those goals, how could we say no?

With generous support from JCrew and a new Volunteer Generation Fund, 4 Youth Farm CSA shares have been purchased for the 2017 season to be distributed to clients at CAMBA- Beyond Hunger Food Pantry. As you may have heard us mention in previous newsletters, we love working with the great folks at CAMBA. They participate in our winter Food Security and and bread baking lesson each year and often bring their clients to the farm for tours and to redeem their Healthbucks at our market. We are excited to strengthen our relationship with this awesome organization and couldn’t be more excited to be sending the fruits of our labors to their clients each week this season!

The last piece of the Farm to Pantry puzzle is getting community members involved in the process. We hope that you’ll join us for one of our volunteer days this season, or consider lending a hand to CAMBA during one of their service days. Check out our website HERE for more info on farm open hours and volunteer days or contact to find out how to get involved with CAMBA this season.

Hi everyone, Molly here! I’m just returned from a much needed break from city life, cell phone reception, and my laptop. After working away day after day at my desk since November, recurring back issues had begun to flare up and rebel, and tension had set in in all kinds of places I typically forget about during the business of the season: my neck, my wrists, my forearms… I have much compassion for folks who work every day behind a screen, and am reminded why having a job that gets me out and about, and blood flowing to my joints and through my muscles, is essential for my overall health. Having taken that much needed mental break, I am now ready for the swift oncoming tidal wave of the 2017 growing and teaching season: ready to wake up the farm from its long sleep, ready to greet new students and volunteers and interns, ready to dig into planning 2017 Youth Farm fundraisers, and super ready to welcome 11 new adult farming students on April 17th, who we will introduce you to soon!

As the spring equinox nears, I invite you all to check out our event calendar, and plan to come join us for a day or two this year to get your hands in the dirt! You’ll get to take home some fresh, nutritious food, and spend some time in the sunshine with a friend, sibling or child – all are welcome. The Youth Farm is here for you as a welcoming green space, where you can sit back and watch birds feed their young or butterflies dance along our perennial border, or work up a sweat turning soil and planting seedlings. You can feel free to meditate or do yoga, or simply walk and observe what’s happening. The farm should be as much for you to reap what you need as it is for structured learning, job training and growing food. See you soon!

In community,

Sawdayah, Erin, and Molly

Fun, and Not-so-Fun FACTS in honor of INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY

Women account for 60-80% of small farmers in the developing world. Yet in sub-Saharan Africa, only 15% of landholders are women, and they receive less than 10% of credit and 7% of extension services. (Farming First: A Global Coalition for Sustainable Agricultural Development).”Today’s report from FAO truly shows the huge untapped potential that women farmers hold. In it’s 2010-2011 edition of The State of the Food and Agriculture report, they wrote, “If women in rural areas had the same access to land, technology, financial services, education and markets as men, agricultural production could be increased and the number of hungry people reduced by 100-150 million.”

Over 80% of the flowers we buy in the USA are grown abroad, primarily in Ecuador and Columbia. 60-70% of global flower farm workers are women, and nearly 100% are women of color. Research has proven that these women face low wages, sexual harassment, forced pregnancy testing, and are discouraged by threat from organizing, along with other abuses in the workplace. Please see p.20 of this report to see how you can make a support increased human rights for women flower farmworkers!

Did you know that the concept of “Community Supported Agriculture” which arrived to the USA in the 1980s, was originally conceptualized by women who founded “Teikei” in Japan? Teikei can be traced back to the mid-1960s, when a group of Japanese women banded together to purchase fresh milk directly from local farmers. These women aimed to help their community small farms survive and were also motivated by a shared distrust of the environmental practices and impacts of, and nutritive quality of food, in the conventionally grown system. They inspired a movement. CSA began in the United States on two east coast farms in 1986. Since that time, CSA farms have been organized throughout our country with over 12,500 community supported farms serving farm fresh food in every state.

The Youth Farm’s Adult Farm Training Program — now the Farm Intensive Certificate — has graduated a total of 32 farmers since 2011. 25 of them have been women! This local data is buttressed by the 2012 US Census which showed that women now make 30% of farmers nationally (a number that has tripled in the last 3 decades) – and now make up the fastest growing segment in US agriculture. In addition, reported in 2014 that “experts predict that 200 million acres of U.S. farmland will change hands in the next decade and that by 2027 women could own the majority of it.” In their new book, The Rise of Women Farmers and Sustainable Agriculture, a quintet of authors—Carolyn Sachs, Mary E. Barbercheck, Kathyrn Brasier, Nancy Ellen Kiernan, and Rachel Terman—take a close look at two trends happening simultaneously: an increase in the number of women farmers and a growing demand for sustainable agriculture.

We hope these few facts offer some insight as to why The Youth Farm supports the education and job training for women farmers and farmers of color, and explain some of our motivation to incorporate discussions about social justice into all of our programs. We hope to engage with you, our readers, and all of our volunteers, interns, student and teacher visitors to discuss how we can best act and support the local and global movements for social and food justice as individuals and in community.

Happy Women’s Day, Every Day!

Vegetable Gumbo, Gullah-styleIngredients:

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

3-4 cloves of garlic, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 cup celery, chopped
5 large heirloom tomatoes, cut up roughly
2 fresh corn, cut in pieces or cut off the cob
2 cups cut okra
3/4 cup other diced veggies (squash and mushrooms are best; be sure to roll your mushrooms around in seasonings and spices)
1/2 cup lima beans
1 tsp of fresh thyme
1/4 tsp dried sage

1 ½ tsp of sassafras or gumbo file
salt / pepper / Old Bay seasoning to taste
1 1/2 qt. water
1 cup oil


  • Saute first 4 ingredients in oil until transparent
  • Add tomatoes and all of their juice and simmer for 3-4 minutes ~~~~
  • Add water and corn, lima beans, herbs and spices and bring to a boil
  • Add Okra and other veggies and let simmer for 10 minutes or so
  • Serve on top of long grain (Carolina Gold is best) rice

~~~~~~ Should serve 4 – 6 ~~~~~~

Fun Facts About Gumbo
~The word ‘gumbo’ comes from the Tshiluba (a language spoken in Angola) word ki ngombo which may mean ‘okra’
~Okra is a staple ingredient of the dish and thickens it. It is thought that some women braided okra seeds in their hair and when they were kidnapped from their homelands, brought to the Americas, the plant found it’s way to the Southern U.S.
~Gumbo is usually attributed to New Orleans but has been eaten in the SC Lowcountry (coastal S. Carolina) for centuries as well and was prepared by enslaved Gullah people
~Key ingredients for Gullah gumbo are tomatoes, peppers, celery, okra, shrimp, and file


Calling all teachers:
The Youth Farm will host a
Professional Development Day!

3 Workshops to Bring Gardening into Your Classroom

Join us for a fun Day-Long Workshop Series for teachers outside at Brooklyn’s largest school farm!

Starting and Growing Seeds Indoors
Building and Maintaining an Indoor Worm Bin
Planning for Your School Garden
Light breakfast and lunch

Every teacher will leave with an indoor seed starting kit, worm bin kit, and tools and resources to start a garden project at their school!

Breakfast and introductions: 9 am to 9:30 a
Workshops 1 & 2: 9:30 am to 12:30 pm

Lunch: 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm
Workshop 3: 1:30 pm to 3 pm
Closing Circle: 3 pm to 3:30 pm



For more information, email molly (@)