Farm School NYC Alumni

How are our alumni making good on our commitment to  use urban agriculture to build self-reliant communities and inspire positive local action?  Meet some of our graduates and find out!  Check back for more profiles of alumni, posted weekly.

Rafael Aponte

Community service and education are the threads that run though Rafael’s life, whether he is working with teens or organizing farmers. A few years back, while he was working in an after school program in Washington Heights, food issues began to surface for both him and the students. “I grew up in the South Bronx without access to healthy, affordable food,” he says. “The students were talking about how terrible school lunches were. We were both looking for more information.” Upon returning from a social justice convention in Detroit, he saw a Farm School flyer and decided to apply. It turned out to be just what he was looking for. “I liked the Farm School approach, how it looked at the social justice and food justice aspects of the food system, not just production,” he says. Read more. >


Aeli Gonzalez Gladstein

Aeli GladsteinAeli was familiar with justice principles and justice work long before Farm School. After graduation from college, he put in a year with Avodah, a Jewish service corps programmed around justice.  Then he went to work at the Red Hook Community Justice Center.  In the meantime he started a windowsill garden and joined the Brooklyn Bears Pacific Street Garden.  His job wasn’t a good fit, and he knew he wanted to do something else.  As he contemplated a career shift, he says, “I began thinking about what made me happy during my day and what tasks I lost myself in.  I was happiest when I was gardening, but I wondered how I could make that work in New York City as a day job.Read more. >






Monique Hartl

File 2080

Although she may have spent her childhood summers on her family’s cow farm in Bavaria, Monique Hartl wanted to go to Farm School for her own reasons.  Her stint at a sustainability-focused multimedia startup was the impetus for a deeper interest in sustainability.  She saw that people’s caring about sustainability often starts with an interest in food, and food became her focus.  “I didn’t apply with the intention of becoming a full-time farmer,” she says.  “I really wanted to understand the food industry and food justice from the inside.  I wanted to know about access to food, and what had been happening within food marketing, since I had been doing marketing professionally.”  She happened on an article about the founding of Farm School and applied.  She feels lucky to have become a part of the Farm School community. Read more. >