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About Urban Harvest

Urban Harvest at Ujima in 2017

By the Numbers

What’s Been Learned

Urban Harvest at Ujima in 2018

About Slow Food NYC

About Urban Harvest 

Slow Food NYC, with more than 20,000 members and followers, is the local chapter of Slow Food USA, the national, not-for-profit organization dedicated to Good, Clean, and Fair Food for All.

Urban Harvest is Slow Food NYC’s program of Good Food Education.  Urban Harvest provides Good, Clean, and Fair Food experiences to New York City children through learning, doing, and sharing.  Urban Harvest has two unique, complementary program components that reach well over 1,500 children throughout the city each year.

•       Urban Harvest in Schools: a source of logistical and financial support tailored to meet schools’ good food education program needs (September through June) including; professional teacher development and consulting, building and maintaining school gardens, providing cooking and good food education classes, operating student-run "farm stands," holding class visits and field trips, and staging farm-to-cafeteria days.  Urban Harvest schools, located in the South Bronx and East Harlem, on the Lower East Side, and in Central Brooklyn, typically include elementary, middle, and high schools with an average federal free lunch eligibility rate of 75%.  Urban Harvest supported programming commenced at a school in East Harlem in 2005.

•        Urban Harvest Farm at Ujima Garden: a tuition-free, educational, urban farm resource in East New York, Brooklyn, operating primarily during the summer months (July and August), where “Student Farmers,” aged 7 to 14, in similarly aged groups drawn from local community organizations, learn about, plant, tend, harvest, prepare, share, and enjoy good, clean food, in a structured educational program.  Ujima was founded as a community garden in 1995 and takes its name from the Coastal Swahili word for “communal work.”  Slow Food NYC began operating Urban Harvest at Ujima in 2010.

Why East New York?  East New York faces challenges including limited retail access to fresh, wholesome food and health disparities, including avoidable food-related illnesses and deaths.  According to the City of New York, East New York residents are more likely to report being in fair or poor health (30%) than those in the rest of Brooklyn (23%) and in New York City overall (21%).  Adults in East New York have an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Heart disease hospitalizations are well above the citywide average, nearly 1 in 3 adults is obese, and 16% have diabetes.

Urban Harvest is possible only with the support of the Slow Food NYC Board of Directors and our members, supporters, and partners.

Urban Harvest at Ujima in 2017

Slow Food NYC operated Urban Harvest at Ujima, from April through October 2017.  

•       During the spring, April through June, Ujima was readied for the growing season


•       During the summer, July and August, Student Farmers, drawn from community organizations, were on the farm, learning about good, clean, and fair food.

With room for customization and improvisation, Student Farmer activities during July and August typically included:   

•       Farm Class (talks about sustainable food production, “how-to” demonstrations, and

“hands-on” planting, tending, harvesting, and composting);  

•       Food Class (talks and activities illustrating the principles of Good, Clean, and Fair Food for All); and  

•       Communal Lunch (‘Hands-on” preparation and enjoyment of a healthful, delicious lunch, based on local, seasonal ingredients, many grown at Ujima).

By the Numbers

Urban Harvest at Ujima consists of two locations; an educational and growing location at 660 New Jersey Avenue in East New York, Brooklyn and a growing-only location at nearby 544 Williams Avenue.  The sites together are more than 3,000 square feet, consisting of planting beds, compost stations, and, at the New Jersey Avenue site, learning and food preparation areas, a washing station, and access to an adjacent, indoor space, accommodating storage and restroom facilities. 

During the 2017 season, Urban Harvest at Ujima supported seven compensated, part-time, positions

•       Managing Farmer (April through October)

•       Assistant Farmer (June through August)

•       Farm Educator (June through August) 

•       Farm Chef (June through August) 

•       Three Farm Mentors, community high school students (July and August).

During July and August, Student Farmers from two Community Organizations enjoyed Good Food Education at Ujima. 

·      CAMBA Cypress Hills Cornerstone Community Center Day Camp

·      CAMBA Boulevard Cornerstone Community Center Day Camp

Student Farmers were joined by three Farm Interns recruited from nearby W.A.T.C.H. High School.

During the 2017 season, we:

•       Planted more than 60 varieties of vegetables (including Slow Food USA Ark of Taste heirlooms), herbs, and flowers,  

•       Harvested about 750 pounds of salad and cooking greens, other vegetables, and herbs; consumed on the farm and taken home by Student Farmers, offered at the weekly Ujima farm stand, co-located with the nearby East New York Farms! Community farmers market, and donated to a local senior center and food pantry.

•       Prepared and served about 20 – 40 healthy snacks and largely plant-based lunches each day (including fresh Ujima produce and local grains, legumes, whole grain pasta, and animal-based protein – eggs, cheese, or meat, generally chicken) for a total of about 1,200 snacks and lunches served during July and August),

•       Composted about 250 pounds of plant material and food waste. and

•       Maintained an average daily snack and lunch cost of about $2.25, within the FRAC (Food Research and Action Center) Food Stamp Challenge Budget of $4.00 per day.

What’s Been Learned

Student Farmers responded to Before’ and ‘After’ Surveys, administered by the Farm Educator, on their first and last days on the farm. 

•       Before Ujima, about 40% of our Student Farmers indicated they had not gardened.  While at Ujima, all helped plant, tend, and harvest.

•       Before Ujima, about 20% of our Student Farmers indicated they did not help shop for or prepare food at home.  While at Ujima, all helped harvest Ujima produce and prepare communal lunches.

•        Before Ujima, about 50% of our Student Farmers indicated fruits and vegetables come from a factory or storeAfter Ujima, about 80% indicated that the food at Ujima did not come from very far and all indicated that food miles are important

•        About 50% of our Student Farmers indicated they had three or fewer fruits and vegetables the day before starting at Ujima.  On their last day at Ujima, about 80% indicated they had four to seven fruits and vegetables on the day prior and, while at Ujima, all indicated they tried and liked a new fruit or vegetable.   

•       About 75% of our Student Farmers indicated they would like to come back to Ujima next summer.

Urban Harvest at Ujima in 2018

With the continued support of our Board, members, supporters, and partners, we intend to be back on the farm in 2018!  We plan to build on the success of Urban Harvest at Ujima by:  

·      Continuing expansion of our base of financial support;

·      Developing enhanced community food distribution channels, including farmers’ markets, community and senior centers, and food pantries; and

·      Continuing to enhance our relationships with Community Organizations.

 Urban Harvest at Ujima Partners

•       Beacon Group

•       BRP Management Group, LLC/ENY Development, LLC

•       Common Threads

•       East New York Farms!

•       W.A.T.C.H. High School  

•       Zegar Family Foundation

Slow Food NYC Urban Harvest Committee 

•       Andres Costello

•       Martina Kenworthy 

•       Kelly McGlinchey

•       Dee Dee Tiller 

•       Ed Yowell

Urban Harvest Contacts

•       Martina, martinakenworthy@hotmail.com

•       Dee Dee, deedeertiller@gmail.com

•       Ed, eayowell@outlook.com

About Slow Food NYC 

Who We Are 

Slow Food NYC is part of the local chapter of Slow Food USA, the national, not-for-profit organization dedicated to Good, Clean, and Fair Food for All.

We believe that food is an essential element of society.  Our food chain can enrich or impoverish, foster healthfulness or illness, and sustain or assail the environment.  In sum, it can be just or unjustSFNYC chooses a just food chain wherein everyone, every day, has the right to enjoy ample, sustainably and humanely produced, culturally meaningful, delicious food that is good for human health and well-being, the planet, and those who work to put food on our tables.  We bring these values to Urban Harvest.  Slow Food NYC is run entirely by volunteers, including a working Board of Directors.

Slow Food NYC programs, in addition to Urban Harvest, include: 

•       SLOW U: Thinking, talking, and tasting our way through the good, clean, and fair food revolution and acting to create and sustain a food chain that is good, clean, and fair for all.

•       Snail of Approval: Recognizing restaurants, bars, food and beverage artisans, and markets that contribute to the quality, authenticity, sustainability, and equity of the New York City food supply. 

•       Producer Matrix: Linking local farmers, fishers, and other producers to retailers, chefs, and buyers, creating a supply chain that supports the values of good, clean, and fair food for all.   

•       Slow Grants: Helping rural and urban farms recover from disasters.