The Youth Farm is an education-focused production farm in Brooklyn that offers New Yorkers opportunities to increase their knowledge of the food system and build high level organic growing skills to share with their communities. The Youth Farm grows organic food and flowers on one acre for the community and beyond, and offers hands-on farm training and leadership opportunities for youth and adults.
In 2012, the Youth Farm helped set historic standards with the NYC Department of Education for soil safety in school gardens by providing soil science expertise and organizing an assembly of key decision-makers at the High School for Public Service including: Grow NYC/Grow to Learn, Cornell Extension for NYC, The NY State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the NYC Department of Education (Legal/Facilities), the NY State Department of Health, and Cornell University Department of Crop and Soil Sciences.
This land has a long history of agriculture and of growth. While the land is currently “owned” by the Department of Education and the building that occupies it has been a school since 1956, the land has been many things to many communities over the centuries. Kings County overall served as a site for vegetable farms and was one of the country’s leading producers into the 1880s. The neighborhood that we are apart of, South Crown Heights/E. Flatbush, has had many names, the latter being the most recent. Before this it was called Wingate and before Wingate it was called Pigtown up until the early 20th century, appropriately named for the many pig farms that supplied Brooklyn. The city’s boundaries were Empire Blvd in the north, Midwood St. in the south, Albany Ave in the east, and Nostrand Ave. in the west. It was located in the southernmost portion of Crown Heights and on the edge of East Flatbush, right where our little acre is today!
As we move forward in our work, we are reminded of the many experiences the land has borne witness to and the fruits it has shared with the communities that have settled here. We are cognizant of the importance of saying the names of the people who nourished the Earth we farm & who pioneered ways of farming and building community around growing, as often times they are people of color who are not honored for their groundwork. As we learn more about the history of this land we will allow it to inform our ways of being and share what we learn with our community!