Added Value Farms Provides Youth Lessons in Agriculture

by Cameron St. Germain

Part of the Food Policy Community Spotlight Series

What they do: Added Value Farms engages youth in urban agriculture, community leadership, and environmental education. They provide a number of programs for young people to learn about and actively participate in farm management and vegetable cultivation, turning teens into farm apprentices. They also open their farms up to visitors. Last year, over 1,200 children visited for their farm-based learning program, and hundreds of volunteers participated in drop-in workdays and events organized through their workplaces.

How they do it: With two farms in Red Hook, they grow a variety of annual vegetables and perennial herbs, including greens, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, leeks, root vegetables, and more. Plus three varieties of kale! The produce is either sold at their Saturday market, distributed to families through their farm-share (CSA) program, donated to the local food pantry, or taken home by their teen farm apprentices. They also sell to local restaurants and partner organizations.

They train and mentor teen apprentices as they develop skills to manage their farms and market, while exploring environmental issues affecting their community. 5-25 youth are hired per year to work in the spring, summer, and fall, earning an hourly wage starting at $11/hr. They engage in community outreach, build culinary skills, practice teamwork, participate in conferences, lead volunteer groups, and work together to grow as environmental stewards and green leaders.

In the Red Hook Community Farm, children and youth roll up their sleeves, learn about plants, and explore where their food comes from. They host groups in the spring, summer, and fall from local schools, summer camps, and fellow teen programs. Sessions include a farm tour, plant exploration, service-learning activities, and farm-fresh snacks!

Added Value Farms also participates in the NYC Compost Project, hosted by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. With 1,900+ volunteers each year, the compost operation processes over 225 tons/year of organic material. Rather than being transported to distant landfills by gas-emitting garbage trucks, this material becomes a rich amendment to farm soil. Their year-round program has the only compost windrows in New York City created and maintained entirely by solar, wind, and human power. This means no gas-guzzling machines! The organic material used for the compost operation is derived from the farm itself (weeds, spoiled produce, spent crop material), and from several contributions made by community members and a rich spectrum of partners.

 Mission: “Added Value Farms is a youth-­centered urban farming and food justice non­-profit in Red Hook, Brooklyn. We create opportunities for teens to expand their knowledge base, develop their leadership skills, and positively engage with each other, their community, and the environment. We operate two urban farms and a community composting program in partnership with other local organizations and city agencies. The Red Hook Community Farm (2.75 acres) focuses on education and production, while the NYCHA farm (1 acre) focuses on community engagement. Our programs include a teen farm apprenticeship, a weekly farm stand, a CSA, and a school workshop program. We strive to transform vacant lands into vibrant urban farms, improve access to healthy, affordable produce, and nurture a new generation of green leaders.”

Latest project/campaign: N/A

Major Funding: Baked, Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn Community Foundation, Fort Defiance, GreenThumb, High Mowing Organic Seeds, Joseph S. & Diane H. Steinberg 1992 Charitable Trust, Lucius & Eva Eastman Fund, Merck Family Fund, NYS Assemblymember Felix Ortiz, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, NYS Office of Children and Family Services, Renee’s Garden Seeds, Red Hook Coalition, The David Rockefeller Fund, The Pinkerton Foundation, The Scherman Foundation, The Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation, US Department of Agriculture

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: N/A

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: Last year, they produced 20,000 pounds of produce at their two farms.



135 Richards Street #1C

Brooklyn, NY 11231

Mailing to: P.O. Box 310028, Brooklyn, NY 11231

Core Programs: N/A

Number of staff: 3

Number of volunteers: N/A

Area served:

  • Brooklyn

Year Started: 2001

Executive Director: Saara Nafici

Contact Information:

(718) 288-6752

Photo credit: Added Value Farms

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