Connect Blog

It was a hot and sunny Wednesday morning, as I set out at 9a.m. excited for the unknown towards the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger’s Healing Garden at Far Rockaway Farm to meet my colleagues and fellow interns at WhyHunger. Having taken class trips with extended stays on farms throughout my middle and high school years I was no stranger to “a day on the farm”; however, I had never worked on an urban farm in New York City and knew this trip was special because it was not only a volunteer day, but WhyHunger was also working with Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger (BSCAH) to film a video project about the intersection of hunger and health and their work.

Once I arrived, we were given a tour of the farm by BSCAH’s Green Teen Internship Program supervisor, Sam. Afterwards, we were filmed as we sat down for an informative Q&A session with Sam to learn about the farm. The Healing Garden in the Far Rockaway neighborhood of Queens is a production farm used to grow organic produce and even has chickens onsite to produce fresh eggs. BSCAH’S Green Teen program employs 15 local youth in the community to maintain the farm and its programs. As supervisor and a former Green Teen herself, Sam oversees these youth workers, and helps manage the farm and harvest produce along with a host of other tasks. The Healing Garden, Sam explained, was established in order to link agriculture and nutrition with community and economic development. And that connection was easy to see as I got to work! I spoke with the teens I worked alongside and found that they lived in the community and some had received their first exposure to gardening and farming practices through BSCAH’s program.

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From the info session with Sam, I learned about an initiative that I did not get to see firsthand but was inspired by, the veggie prescriptions partnership between the Healing Garden and the nearby Addabbo Family Health Center. Those who suffer with diet-related diseases, like diabetes and high blood pressure, can get a “prescription” for produce from the clinic and bring it to the farm to pick up their free meds - fresh, organic fruits and vegetables grown by teens. This is a unique and creative initiative that promotes good health in the community. As a Public Health major at my university, I thought this initiative was a truly innovative approach because not only does it increase accessibility to fresh produce, but it encourages maintaining a long term relationship with a healthcare provider and connects more people in the community to the farm.

After the info session, I was assigned the task of tying tomato stalks that were hanging low on the soil or loose, to a higher wooden post. I worked with two boys, who were employed as Green Teen interns. As fellow interns and all the same age, I learned that one of the boys had fairly recently migrated from Jamaica with his mother and younger brother, who was also a Green Teen intern. As residents of the Far Rockaway community, this was his second summer as an intern here and he intended to continue into the fall as well. He told me his mother comes to their market and has incorporated much of the farm produce into her dinner recipes. While chopping kale into compost, his younger brother and I talked about our shared Jamaican family background and how time spent at the farm has positively affected his transition to New York.

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 By 2 p.m. my chopping days were over and WhyHunger, the film crew, and all the BSCAH staff began to exit the farm for the end of the workday. After a hug goodbye from my compost-chopping partner, I felt much appreciation and gratitude. As a born and bred city girl, I was curious but not initially thrilled about the idea of laboring on this sunny, 91-degree day. However, filled with great experiences and connections at the end of the workday, my perspective was completely changed and I was grateful for the knowledge and exposure I gained about the farm from those who worked there. As I left, I questioned, is urban farming in my future? I do not know, but I certainly would be open to it! Not just a beautiful green space, the Healing Garden at the Far Rockaway Farm further unites the community, partners with local entities for health promotion, increases accessibility to organic and local produce, and contributes economically to the area. In addition, it gave me a lesson on agroecology right in my own city.

This piece was originally published by La Via Campesina.  The World Social Forum, held this month in Montreal, brought together thousands of activists, organizations and social movements working to build a sustainable and inclusive world, to learn, strategize and share knowledge with each other.  With so many organizers, farmers, activists, students and change makers in one place, it was easy to see the collective strength of the movement and the potential for the type of transformative social change that our world needs.  The power of this potential was crystal clear at a briefing held by Quebec’s Union paysanne and La Via...
Dona Sofia and children: ""I never thought that we could become a community of strong women, with our heads full of ideas. I may not have any money but I am a wealthy woman because of my ties to AFEDES." Photo credit:WhyHunger   This post first appeared in EcoWatch. The Kaqchikel women—one of 23 Mayan cultures in Guatemala—are fighting to protect their collective intellectual property rights to their traditional Mayan textile designs. Led by the Women's Association for the Development of Saquatepéquez (AFEDES), an organization with a membership of more than 1,000 indigenous women and supported by an association of Mayan lawyers, hundreds...

The Ways In Which I Don’t Worry

JEN CHAPIN , AUGUST 11, 2016 tagged as racial justice
This is a guest post originally published in the Kids Make a Difference Newsletter a couple years ago. Written by WhyHunger's longtime friend and Board Member Jen Chapin, in this honest reflection Jen wrangles with questions about racism that many have and reflects on America’s racial legacy, how it affects her son (who is now close to 11 yrs old) and what she’ll teach him. Unfortunately, the same questions and racial justice issues persist today so we wanted to share. I have been wrangling with this essay in my head for months, as I’ve struggled to find the right words to respond to a...
Artists Against Hunger and Poverty is excited to announce a new partnership with YouTuber Chris Oflyng for our Summer Meals Rock for Kids campaign! Known for his high energy and dynamic videos that promote positivity and acceptance, Chris has hundreds of thousands of dedicated fans across the world and is using his popular platform to draw attention to the summer hunger crisis in America. 

 When asked about why he decided to join the movement he says: 
 "As a child I began to have major concerns about hunger worldwide when my grandparents told me about poverty overseas and the agricultural and economic struggles people were...
This post first appeared in The Huffington Post. When President Franklin Roosevelt proposed legislation for the New Deal at the height of the Great Depression in the 1930s he needed the support of the South to pass it in congress. As a result, the vast majority of Blacks, Latinos and Native...

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With humble beginnings in a small suburb outside of Pittsburgh, Artists Against Hunger and Poverty member Steve Bodner is a true grassroots artist. Even though he has gone on to play great venues like CBGB, Wrigley Field, and Trident Studios, he remains true to his roots and uses music to...

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At a national gathering I participated in with 500 community organizations and food access groups like soup kitchens, food banks, and food pantries a bold, collective statement emerged from the people working on the frontlines of hunger.  I look to their experience as a grounding force in our evolving strategies...

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WhyHunger is excited to be participating in the upcoming World Social Forum (WSF) in Montreal, where tens of thousands of people from groups in civil society, organizations and social movements will gather to strategize for global social justice. Since it began in 2001, the WSF has been one of the...

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Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been in the news headlines a lot with discussion about whether or not GMOs should even have a place in our food system. And if they do, do consumers have the right to know? Recently, a bi-partisan bill dubbed the Denying Americans the Right to Know...

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