Farm School NYC: Seeding the Future
When recent Farm School NYC graduate Yanet Rojas came to NYC from Peru in 1999, she set out to make a difference. While her main interests were originally in advocacy for education, she gradually became more and more interested in food issues. Yanet wanted a space where she could grow her own fresh vegetables. Three years ago, she made this a reality for herself and her neighbors by helping with the development of a new garden project at Cypress Hills Local Development in Brooklyn. Yanet initially became interested in Farm School NYC because she wanted more knowledge to help her manage the community garden, known as Cypress Hills Verde. She was accepted into the Farm School program in 2011.
“My mission was to act as a facilitator to change our community,” Yanet says of the project at Cypress Hills. “I was in need of some formal instruction in order to be a successful leader for the community garden.”
Farm School NYC officially began in January 2011 after receiving funding from the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. The program’s mission is to train New Yorkers in sustainable urban agriculture practices and food justice. New York City is Farm School’s classroom, with classes taking place in community gardens and urban farms all over the city.
Yanet’s Farm School NYC education has inspired her to further develop her community garden. Last year, with the support of Just Food’s City Chicken Project, Yanet brought chickens to Cypress Hills. The community garden now has its own chicken coop and a small flock of hens, so residents have access to fresh eggs.
Now that she has completed the Farm School NYC program, Yanet is looking to start her own business. “I want to do something that educates, but also a venture where I can make a living,” she says. Yanet has a plan to do both – her goal is to combine her passion for food and agriculture with her interest in education by creating a green daycare. She believes her community is in need of another option for their children’s early education. Yanet envisions a daycare where children will learn about growing their own food, sustainability and taking care of the environment.
Yanet encourages others to look at Farm School NYC as a way they can learn to help their communities, and believes people of all different backgrounds should apply. “Don’t be afraid,” she says to prospective Farm School NYC students. “It is so important we embrace the connection we all have within us, to grow our own food.”
To learn more about Farm School NYC, pleave visit http://justfood.org/farmschoolnyc.