Farm School NYC Alumni - Aeli Gonzalez Gladstein
Aeli was familiar with justice principles and justice work long before Farm School. After graduation from college, he put in a year with Abodah, 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.”
He found Farm School. Other life changes happened: halfway through his first year as a certificate student, he lost his job and had a baby, but he persisted. He apprenticed at the Weeksville Heritage Center, learned beekeeping, and started Liquid Gold, a honey business, there, which has grown to six beehives. It’s not just a business, though. He says, “Every time I put on the suit and I’m by the hives, at least ten people stop and ask about the bees. We placed them close to the street so there would be interaction, so we could promote local agriculture.”
Aeli continues to volunteer in other capacities at Weeksville, writing grants and teaching bee workshops. His vision of continuing to scale up Liquid Gold owes much to his new understanding of how to grow an enterprise, but it’s also based on being part of an urban agriculture community. “Farm School was a tremendous experience. I gained a network that I didn’t have access to before.” he says. In transition, with a vision of making honey production a viable full time business, Aeli is creating his niche.
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