Farming in Brooklyn
If you live in New York City- hop on the 3 train, jump off at New Lots Ave, and mosey south a few blocks. In the middle of the grey concrete buildings and silver paved streets that make up this powerful city, you’ll find yourself in a vibrantly green spot. An urban farm. A marketplace. Fresh tomatoes, lettuce, fish, apples, and grapes abound. Upbeat music sets the tone. Young people and older members of the community laugh, play, and work together to bring fresh produce to their neighborhood.
You are now at East New York Farms, a project of the non-profit organization United Community Centers. Their mission is to “organize youth an adults to address food justice in our community by promoting local sustainable agriculture and community-led economic development.” It is farming by the people and for the people of Brooklyn.
On a sunny summer day in June, StoryCorps visited East New York Farms to record interviews between community members, volunteers, and local farmers. We listened to heartfelt conversations about the impact of the UCC and East New York Farms on its youth and local residents.
Project Director, Sarita, spoke with youth intern, Navindra, about his early childhood in Guyana and moving to the United States with his family. Navindra was excited to move, but his only concept of the city came from the movies. He was surprised to find out there was farming in New York City. It was an intriguing idea and he wanted to be involved. During our interview, Navindra took the time to tell Sarita what a role model she is for him. East New York Farms has shaped his confidence as a leader and given him a source of purpose and pride.
East New York Farms isn’t just another club or internship for Navindra to list on a college application. When you meet him, he doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would do anything half-heartedly. This truly means something to him. He is only 16 and already fulfilling a noble desire to give back to a community that he cares about. He’s lending a helping hand to the place and people who introduced him to the United States.
Listening to Sarita and Navindra talk about East New York would make anyone want to run out and do something good for their own neighborhood.