The students at East Flatbush’s High School for Public Service are doing much more than getting an education -- they are helping to change their community for the better. Through a partnership with BK Farmyards, the students have been growing produce, herbs, and flowers in their very own urban farm. Inhabitat recently visited the Youth Farm, which is responsible for providing fresh healthy foods to the community, which is otherwise devoid of fresh vegetable sources.
Along with help from community organization Green Guerillas and funding from programs like ioby, the Youth Farm has created an opportunity for local families to buy locally-grown, organic food in an area considered to be a produce desert. Located on the edge of East Flatbush and Crown Heights, the neighborhood is renowned for high rates of obesity and diabetes, mostly due to its lack of supermarkets. The residents of these neighborhoods rely largely on bodegas for groceries, limiting access to any sort of healthy food.
Last year alone, the Youth Farm yielded 15,000 lbs of produce, which was shared with the community through a farmers market and CSA. Aside from growing healthy food to feed its community, the Youth Farm is also changing the habits of its residents by offering classes and education to students and adults, creating a generation of land stewards. The resulting program invites students to raise their own food, learn to cook, and thus bring their excitement home with them to teach their families and friends. The mission-based school requires 200 hours of community service (which can be spent working in the farm) to graduate, but students are so enthusiastic about the program that most log an average of 400 hours upon graduation.
Inhabitat had the opportunity to meet several of these students, who told stories of being turned on to organic foods after taking cooking classes, giving up sugary drinks after learning about juicing, encouraging their families to recycle, and having a sense of pride and ownership after spending time on the farm. The Youth Farm is not only helping the immediate community, but also generations to come by changing eating habits one student at a time, and creating excited advocates of healthy living who want to share their enthusiasm with their community.
photos © Lori Zimmer for Inhabitat