In the spring of 2010, in partnership with Brownsville Multi-service Center (BMS) and East New York Urban Youth Corps, Slow Food NYC obtained the fallow 2,000 square foot "Ujima" Garden in East New York, Brooklyn, with attached kitchen and classroom. With the help of member support and the work of many volunteers, we were able to clear the land and build our first farm.
In the summer of 2010, Slow Food NYC inaugurated a six-week, four-hour a day program, serving over 40 neighborhood youth at no cost to them or their families. By the following year, the program expanded to a full-day, six-week program with both high school and elementary school students participating. High school students from the neighborhood worked alongside the younger children as mentors under the guidance of the managing farmer.
Managing Farmer Spotlight
Jessica Sirbu Balnaves, Managing Farmer
Jessica Sirbu Balnaves centers her life around good food and community. She believes in environmental stewardship, sustainable food practices and the importance of teaching these practices to her community and especially the youth. Jessica brings to Urban Harvest at Ujima experience in urban farming from Brooklyn Grange and Roberta's, teaching youth through City Growers and food system knowledge and community from managing the Bushwick Food Coop. She lives with her husband in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Jannatul Rahman, Garden Educator
Jannatul Rahman was born in Bangladesh and moved to New York in 2006. She currently is a rising senior at St. Joseph's College as a Biology Major and Chemistry Minor. In 2008, she began an internship with East New York Farms, where she started her education in urban farming and continued for three more years in more of a leadership role. In 2011, she began working with Slow Food NYC as a Farm Assistant at Ujima Garden. She worked independently taking care of the garden and in 2012, she continued working as a Teaching Assistant helping with lesson plans and spending more time educating the children.
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