The farm began last year with a $5000 Sodexo School Engagement Grant from YouthService America. Last fall, the students built a 40′ x 12′, energy-efficient, low-cost greenhouse, made with spare materials repurposed from an existing project. The growing space is located on the Bushwick Campus, which includes the Academy of Urban Planning (AUP), Bushwick School for Social Justice, the Academy for Environmental Leadership, and the Brooklyn School for Math and Research.
“The goal of the recently-founded Bushwick Campus Farm is to connect the dots between the food system, economics, health, the environment, social justice, and sustainable agricultural practices,” say the farm leaders. “For us, it’s more than just a farm. It’s an outdoor classroom that supports youth empowerment. It’s a model of community engagement and source of nourishment. It’s an economic alternative to our modern food system.”
The greenhouse uses traditional raised beds, as well as a soil-less hydroponic growing system that allows the farm to grow more food. As Bushwick is one of NYC’s “food deserts,” the farm’s produce is sold at the Bushwick Farmer’s Market to ensure that it goes directly to the local community, providing fresh, nutritious vegetables to local families affected by food insecurity.
Students work to help maintain the garden, which gives them hands-on experience that teaches them about the food system, agriculture, and even economics, as they are also involved in the distribution. Teachers create curriculum specifically for the outdoor classroom, giving students a unique learning opportunity.
Since the farm’s inception last spring, it’s grown to become a vibrant, depended-upon community organization that affects many more people than just the schools’ students. A successful $15,000 Kickstarter campaign raised enough money to help fund the greenhouse and keep it running. It was the largest grassroots campaign that EcoStation had ever taken on. “While we deeply appreciate the support we receive from foundations and government sources,” they write, “the grassroots community support demonstrated in our hour of need was truly heartwarming, and we look forward to the challenges of 2012 with renewed gusto and determination.”
All images via Bushwick Campus Farm