Farm School NYC

Farm School NYC

Estados Unidos
Tipo de organização: 
Sem fins lucrativos / ONG/ Setor Civil
Orçamento: 
$500,000 - $1 million
Resumo do projeto
Pitch de Elevador (Explicação curta e direta)

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Farm School NYC will be a formal urban agriculture training and mentorship program in New York City. The program will provide needed training to help urban farmers scale up food production with the dual purpose of creating thriving small businesses and providing healthy food in underserved communities.

SOBRE O PROJETO

Problema: Este projeto busca solucionar qual problema?

Currently, there is a tremendous market and need in New York City’s low-income communities for fresh, healthy, locally grown foods. As many as three million New Yorkers live in communities characterized by too few supermarkets and inversely high rates of diet-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. While citywide rates of childhood obesity and overweight are high, in low-income communities, childhood obesity rates have climbed to nearly 50 percent. At the same time, there is growing interest farming in NYC, but urban farmers who seek professional training and the opportunity to improve their food production and marketing skills must leave the city to pursue this training. Aspiring urban farmers, faith leaders, and entrepreneurs have been asking for a training program that is based in the City, provides intensive training opportunities, and focuses on the particular skills required to farm safely and productively in an urban setting.
Sobre Você
Organização:
Just Food
Seção 1: Você
Nome

Amy

Sobrenome

Blankstein

Organização

Just Food

País

, NY

Seção 2: Sua Organização
Nome da Organização

Just Food

Telefone da organização

212.645.9880

Endereço da organização

1155 Avenue of the Americas, Third Floor, NY, NY 10036

País da organização

, NY

Sua ideia
Country and state your work focuses on

, NY

INOVAÇÃO
What makes your idea unique?

Farm School NYC is a project of, by, and for the community. Community-driven and community-designed, the concept and impetus for The School developed in response to the recognition that while there is building excitement around urban agriculture, New York City lacks the appropriate educational infrastructure to support the growth and expansion of this work.

Urban agriculture has been gaining momentum as a solution that will feed, heal, employ, educate and empower communities. At the grassroots level, participation in backyard and community gardening is skyrocketing. People want to grow more healthy food for their families and their communities. The prevalence of urban farming as an entrepreneurial activity is also growing exponentially as people engage in opportunities to generate income by growing their own high-quality food.

This School will offer an intensive urban farming curriculum – drawing from the best horticulture and agriculture educational resources available in New York City. In addition, the program will provide a networking and mentorship structure to provide its student cohorts with the opportunities to share knowledge and connect with experts in the field of urban agriculture and entrepreneurship. The combination of these offerings will increase the self-reliance of communities to provide for the food needs of low-income individuals and expand urban agriculture-related economic opportunities for low-income New Yorkers.

Do you have a patent for this idea?

Impacto
What impact have you had?

Since 1997, Just Food has promoted urban agriculture to help low-income New Yorkers grow, market, and distribute fresh food from their own community gardens. Just Food currently supports a network of 35 community gardens and 29 certified City Farms Trainers through educational programming, technical support, and networking opportunities.

Just Food has certified 29 City Farms Trainers since the inception of the program. Since 2004, Just Food has coordinated over 270 Trainer-led workshops, which have provided more than 2,900 New Yorkers with the opportunity to gain vital agriculture skills. In 2009 alone, the Trainers led 50 workshops, which were attended by more than 500 New Yorkers.

The program has also helped 11 community gardens and urban farms to start and run farmers’ markets. In addition to selling urban-grown products, they also offer products from regional farmers. In 2009, these markets served more than 55,000 NYC residents.

In 2006, Just Food launched the City Chicken Project -- a program designed to provide training and technical assistance to community gardeners. To date, 8 community gardens have received training, coop materials, chickens and technical assistance. Each community garden that receives assistance through the project gives back by assisting with coop builds, training sessions, and site mentoring.

In addition, Just Food successfully concluded a two-year campaign to legalize beekeeping in NYC. Just Food will continue to assist community gardens in their efforts to raise honeybees, to increase the productivity of their gardens and farms through pollination, and to produce honey and other value added products.

Actions

Just Food has taken several steps towards making this project a success, including coordinating an Advisory Board, conducting an ongoing stakeholder design and feedback process, developing a business plan, and pursuing funding opportunities.

The proposed project is a direct response to demand from New York City community gardeners and urban farmers interested in accessing intensive training to help them scale up their agricultural production and develop entrepreneurial endeavors. Just Food coordinated a stakeholder design process that included community gardeners, urban farmers, and partner organizations. Together, this group developed a business plan for the project and their working groups are actively planning an implementation process.

In addition, Just Food has pursued funding for the project. A project planning grant of $60,000 assisted with the development of the project design and business plan. In order for this project to be successful, Just Food will need to access additional funding for implementation.

Results

As a result of these actions, we believe that the project is on track to pilot in beginning in January or February of next year. As a result of community planning, we have an incredible amount of community goodwill and support, as well as a dedicated board of advisors who have committed time, expertise, and support to this project. These board members have committed personal and institutional time and resources to the project and have pledged to do so over the next three years.

The business plan developed out of the planning process is a vital planning document that also supports Just Food pursuit of funding opportunities.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

Over the next 3 years, Just Food will continue to steward and support The School’s Advisory Board. Just Food will ensure the continued engagement of community gardeners, urban farmers, and partner organizations, such as greening organizations and botanical gardens by maintaining a regular meeting schedule, organizing committee work, and maintaining the culture of accountability that has so far characterized the culture of the Board.

In year one, The School will reach out to leadership in key partner organizations to formalize collaboration through an MOU process. The MOU partners, such as greening organizations and botanical gardens, will provide horticulture and agriculture courses and mentoring services, as well as input into the project. The MOU process is a critical step in enabling The School to curate a curriculum that will cover the Core Curriculum established by The School while drawing on the strongest educational program offerings currently made available through existing NYC institutions.

The School will continue to operate on the bare-bones curriculum curatorial model until substantial start-up funds are secured. With additional funds, The School will hire a full-time Director, secure contracts with faculty, promote its programs and recruit students. The long term structure of The School will be a formal, 2-year program, with courses offered at both a price (sliding scale) and a schedule that will accommodate busy, working, low-income individuals.

Ultimately, Farm School NYC will operate in a way that is both financially accessible and financially viable, or self-sustaining. All participants of the School will be actively engaged in giving back to the School during their training: by fulfilling support functions in a structured cooperative work-study program to handle Farm School NYC operations and administration, by a commitment to serve on a fundraising committee, or by other modes of engagement to be determined.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

There are two primary obstacles to success for this project. Just Food is relying heavily on community partners and partner organizations for their input, to assist with management of the project, and to share resources. While this is a potential obstacle, these are individuals and groups with whom we share strong, long-term relationships, and who have already shown support deep commitment to the project.

The other obstacle is funding. Without significant funding, we could successfully launch a pared-down version of this project. However, our goal is to provide support for urban farmers to scale their production to launch businesses and to meet the need for fresh, healthy food in underserved New York City neighborhoods. In order for Just Food to reach this goal, this project must be brought to an appropriate scale.

How many people will your project serve annually?

101‐1.000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

More than $4000

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?

Sim

SUSTENTABILIDADE
Em que estágio está seu projeto?

Fase de concepção

In what country?

, NY

Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Sim

If yes, provide organization name.

Just Food

How long has this organization been operating?

Mais de 5 anos

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?

Sim

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs?

Sim

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses?

Sim

Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government?

Sim

Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

In addition to individuals and community groups, NGOs, businesses, and government entities have provided, and will continue to guidance, expertise, and in-kind support that will ensure the success of the school.

Heifer International has provided substantial financial support to the City Farms program, has trained Just Food staff, provides evaluation support, and their staff have been active members in Farm School NYC planning.

The NYC Parks Department’s GreenThumb program has been a long-time partner in Just Food’s efforts to provide urban agriculture workshops. In addition to promoting the workshops to their membership, GreenThumb provides supplies and materials for workshop attendees, and their staff assists in workshop instruction. In addition, their staff members have been active participants in Farm School NYC planning.

With Scott Stringer’s city-wide prominence, the Manhattan Borough President’s office has promoted Just Food mission, and has provided financial support in order implement programming.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization?

In order for Just Food and its partners to grow Farm School NYC, we will need to develop formal agreements with institutional partners, conduct outreach to publicize the school, and raise start up funds to launch the program.

Partner organizations such as the New York Botanical Garden, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, GreenThumb, and a host of institutions and community groups who conduct, support, and/or teach urban agriculture have been active participants in the Farm School NYC planning process. Before we can begin program implementation, Just Food will need to develop formal agreements with these entities.

Once these formal agreements are in place, Just Food will conduct outreach throughout New York City in order to publicize Farm School NYC. The School’s vision includes a range of students that reflects the racial, economic and cultural diversity of New York City and includes NYC community gardeners. In order to meet these goals, we need to actively recruit and enroll harder-to-reach populations.

We will target a great deal of outreach to New York City community gardeners and people living and working in food insecure neighborhoods. We will use existing partners’ community garden and grassroots networks to get out the word. These networks include GreenThumb’s mailing list to over 10,000 community gardeners; Just Food’s email contact list of over 5,000; a strong grassroots customer base at 11 City Farms farmers markets; a vocal network of Just Food Trainers, Community Chefs, and Food Justice Advocates; newsletters and updates sent out to networks of community gardeners by Bronx Green-up, GreenBridge, East New York Farms!, and others.

For the first few years, Farm School NYC will rely more heavily on grants. Just Food’s Executive Director and Grants and Communications Manager, in conjunction with the Advisory Board Finance Subcommittee, will apply for grant funding from private, corporate, and government sources.

A História
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

The Farm School NYC project has been multiple years in the making, and is the result of many conversations and evaluation meetings between Just Food’s City Farms program staff, partner organization staff, and community gardeners and urban farmers.

In 2008, the Blue Moon Fund provided funding to propel the planning process forward with a grant of $60,000. This support provided funding for small stipends to reimburse planning partners for time spent on the project. As a result of this funding, we had the resources and capacity to coordinate a thoughtful, inclusive, and productive visioning process, draw in important stakeholders, and create a cohesive business plan that lays the groundwork for Just Food and its partners to move forward with Farm School NYC.

The defining moment of this project was a meeting that was held soon after Just Food learned that the foundation would not be able to provide additional funding to implement Farm School NYC.

When Just Food announced that there would be no additional funding to move the project forward to implementation, more than 40 participants pledged to continue their involvement in the project. The full advisory board meets once a month and project subcommittees meet in the interim to discuss a range of management, curriculum, and funding issues. As a result of this dedication, planning for Farm School NYC continues to progress and we have been able to pursue multiple funding opportunities.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

The Farm School NYC project is the result of demand from the community gardeners and urban farmers that Just Food supports and with whom we partner. The project continues to be developed and led by an enthusiastic and diverse community, which involves over 60 individuals and organizations from the urban agriculture community representing all 5 boroughs of New York City. The current Advisory Board, four subcommittees, and Business Plan team are equally diverse, consisting of individuals ranging in age from early twenties to late seventies; spanning multiple races, ethnicities, academic and cultural backgrounds. The planning group includes members who are volunteer community gardeners, government employees, staff of botanical gardens and other local and international nonprofits. The School will continue to rely on these partnerships for involvement with the Advisory Board and committees, outreach and promotion, curriculum development, classroom space, faculty, and more.

Faces of Farm School NYC
Karen Washington is a community activist, striving to make the Bronx a better place to live. As a community gardener, Karen has worked with neighborhoods to turn empty lots into community gardens; as an advocate, she has stood up and spoken out for garden protection and preservation; as one of our City Farms Trainers, she has helped people all over the city grow more food and build healthier neighborhoods; and as a member of the La Familia Verde Garden Coalition, she launched a City Farms Market, bringing garden grown and farm fresh vegetables to her neighbors.

For Anne O’Neill, a Curator at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, love of gardening began at the age of three, when she tended her own "secret garden," behind the wall of her mother's garden in Carlow, Ireland. In pursuit of her passion, she later earned a bachelor's degree in commerce with a concentration in horticulture from University College Dublin. Now in her 70s, Anne strongly believes that public gardens are a necessary resource for people because they fulfill a human need on many levels, including cultural, aesthetic, scientific, emotional, and spiritual ones.

Bilen Berhanu is an Outreach Coordinator at GreenThumb, the largest community gardening program in the country. GreenThumb supports community gardens in New York City – serving more than 20,000 city residents through a network of over 600 member gardens. Bilen plays an integral role in providing support to help strengthen gardens, gardener skills, and communities. GreenThumb's services take the form of materials and technical assistance, including educational workshops.

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