East New York Farms! Has Local Solutions for Making a Big Impact on our Food System

by Gabrielle Khalife
Part of the Food Policy Community Spotlight Series

Name: East New York Farms!

What they do: Their work includes: (1) two community-run farmers markets to make fresh food available and affordable while building the local economy, (2) a Youth Internship Program engaging 35 children in hands-on learning about environment, health, community development, leadership and social justice, (3) a Gardener Assistance Program to help both new and experienced gardeners learn the essential aspects of running a productive and inclusive garden by providing hands-on workshops, technical assistance, connections to community gardens, vending opportunities and other resources, (4) maintenance of three farms, including the United Community Centers (UCC) Youth Farm, where young interns learn organic farming techniques and grow healthy, chemical-free food to sell at the two community-run farmers markets, the Pink Houses Community Farm and the Bay View Houses Farm, (5) a mini-grant program  to which local residents, organizations and small businesses can apply to fund projects that will increase access to healthy food in East New York, (6) a Community Educator program that leads more than 85 cooking demonstrations per year and (7) the Youth Food Justice Network (YFJN).

How they do it: East New York Farms! uses local food production in gardens and urban farms as a way to build community, train youth, and empower new leaders.

Mission: The mission of the East New York Farms! project is to empower youth and adults to advocate for food justice in the community by promoting local sustainable agriculture and community-led economic development. East New York Farms! is a project of the UCC in partnership with local residents.

Latest project/campaign: East New York Farms! started the Youth Food Justice Network (YFJN) in 2014 as a way to bring together peer organizations in the northeast region, and establish a platform connecting and celebrating youth food justice organizations that are working to demand a just, equitable and fair food system for all. The YFJN organizes youth-led regional summits and local exchanges to connect and build strong bonds among food justice organizations. Since 2016, they have been organizing Youth CRAFT Days as opportunities for skill-sharing and collaboration, as well as creating and leading shared learning youth spaces for organizations involved in the food movement through food, environmental and social justice work at the Just Food and NESAWG Conferences.

Major Funding: Private foundations (60%), government (30%), donations and income (10%)

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: $600,000

Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect the food system: Community gardeners are the backbone of East New York Farms!. In addition to their work growing food, they serve multiple roles as vendors, community educators, youth interns, board members and beekeepers. They believe that the resources to change our food system are right here in our community.

The community gardeners of East New York Farms! were the first urban growers in New York State to be certified to accept Farmers Market Nutrition Program coupons.

FACT SHEET:

Location:

613 New Lots Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 111207

Core Programs:

Farmers markets

Youth Internship

Garden Assistance

NYCHA Farms

Cooking and Gardening Workshops

Community Composting

Number of staff: 7

Number of volunteers: 500

Areas served: Brooklyn

Year Started: 1998

Director: David Vigil

Contact Information: [email protected]

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