Farm School NYC Faculty - Ai Hirashiki
Farm School NYC Faculty
Advanced Teaching Instructor
Our Advanced Teaching instructor and alumna Ai Hirashiki’s extensive agriculture experience began long before she started as a Farm School NYC student in 2011. Ai had already started and worked on numerous rural and urban farms by then. And, with close to 20 years of classroom experience in the U.S. and abroad, Ai was also a veteran teacher. At MercyCorps, an international NGO where she advanced from teacher to director of educational programs, Ai gained a global prespective on food justice issues. At Farm School, she gained an understanding of the local side. “Local is also global," she explains. “People all over the world are facing the same issues around growing clean food and having access to land.”
Ai’s involvement in Farm School gave her a new understanding of her own students’ needs, which informs her approach to all her instruction and curriculum design. She understands that the students’ knowledge is essential to the participatory and collaborative model of education that is at the heart of Farm School. Not one for pulling punches in either life or speech, she says, “Farm School is incredible. What I love most is the community. It’s so supportive.” Ai didn’t only gain a community in Farm School -- she also gained a life partner. In July 2014, she and fellow alumnus Jason flew to Hawaii for their wedding.
Since receiving her Farm School NYC Certificate in Urban Agriculture, Ai has been very busy. Besides currently teaching the Advanced Teaching class, she created and taught a gardening and food justice curriculum for young people for the International Refugee Committee. Additionally, Ai taught a garden apprenticeship program for high school students at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and she has conducted numerous workshops. She imagines that her focus might shift from the nonprofit toward the social enterprise model -- and thereby she’ll make a living in a new way.