Monday, December 13, 2010

Give a Gift to the Youth Farm
Friends, family, supporters:

Can you imagine a high school student excitedly telling their parents about their lunch - not cafeteria pizza, or McDonald's, but fresh kale salad?

At the High School for Public Service, students do just that, thanks to our innovative farm-based curriculum. And you can help deliver this curriculum to next year's class, and beyond - to nurture the next generation of healthy eaters, environmental stewards, and food justice advocates.

We all know our food system is broken. Scientists are now saying that for the first time in 200 years, our children have a shorter life expectancy than us due to chronic diseases directly linked to our food system. It is imperative that we teach teens the value of eating real, whole food; the importance of local, sustainable agriculture; and the potential they have to make an impact in the health of their communities.

Last week, I had the pleasure of sharing our first $1 Harvest meal with all the sophomores at HSPS in our new Go Green! class. As we ate and talked about our cultural traditions, one of the students said to me, ‘Every night I go home and tell my mom about this class.’ We do a lot of taste tests in class (like Wonder Bread versus home-made bread or organic versus non-organic apples), and we test recipes like fresh kale salad and tomatillo salsa, made with vegetables from our farm. One thing is very clear to me: when given the choice, almost all of the students prefer real food made from whole ingredients. It's also clear that they don't always have that choice, and that having the farm as a community resource is valuable to them and their families. Especially important, we grow culturally significant crops for the neighborhood: we are the only source for fresh callaloo and cerasee in the area which allows local families to cook traditional food.

Let’s set some goals together:
In the next year

  • We will double the number of teens in our Summer Youth Employment Program
  • We will have teens running cooking demonstrations and distributing recipes at our farmers market every week
  • We will double our growing capacity on the farm from ¼ acre to ½ acre
  • We will incorporate indoor growing into the Go Green! curriculum
  • We will continue to host teen events on the farm such as harvest parties and festivals to provide a space for teens to give tours of the farm and express their feelings about the local food system.

We are scaling up our operations on the Youth Farm to be financially sustainable in the next few years, but we need your help to get us past some crucial hurdles this year. Myself and key members of my team have volunteered our time this year to make this project a reality. We have relied on your support in the past, and we are asking for your support again to continue the success of our programs.

  • Donating $25 funds our time for each class session.
  • Donating $200 funds 1 week for our education coordinator to teach the Go Green! class.
  • Donating $1,500 will fund all the culinary supplies we need for our students for a long time to come.
  • Donating $16,000 funds our education coordinator’s work for the whole year!

If you can give more, we are grateful. If you give less, be assured that we will make the best use of every dollar.

How to Donate:

Because the Youth Farm is a Green Guerillas program, you can now make a tax-deductible donation to the Youth Farm. To donate by credit card, go to the Green Guerillas donation page. At the bottom, where it says, ‘Designate your donation to a specific program or fund,’ type in BK Farmyards. If you do not do this, your donation will NOT go toward our Youth Farm. To donate by check, you can mail your check made out to Green Guerillas to their Manhattan office, but make sure you write, ‘BK Farmyards’ in the memo line to ensure that your money goes toward our Youth Farm.

Thanks so much for your continued support of our project.