Testimonials - Francois Piebo

 Testimonial - Francois Piebo, Farm School NYC Student

What I learned thanks to Farm School.
Between that June 1997’s day, two days exactly after I arrived in the USA, when for the first time I ate a completely tasteless mango a friend of mine and I bought from a local supermarket in Corona, Queens-New York, where I “landed”, between that day and now it’s been 17 years. Yet, it’s only in recent years that I started to understand what is going on in the food industry and how millions of human beings around the world, in general, and in the USA particularly, have been induced or left to consume food that not only is tasteless, but may also have been exposing many of us to all kind of diseases. 
Coming from a region of the world where, at least until the early 1990s, the majority of big cities’ and urban area’s populations were still being fed by the countryside with local natural, organic healthy food and where only a small proportion of the city’s foreign-trained middle class residents could afford the prohibitively expensive conventional Agriculture food, my immediate reaction after that “mango incident” was that, once I am well established in America I will have to get into Agriculture so I can help communities here discover, taste, and eat real, healthy food I grew up eating back in Africa. 
If years later, in 2012, attending one of the New York city’s Beginning farmer programs that trains mostly foreign-born New-Yorkers with agricultural background willing to go back into Agribusiness in New York state did not ready me with all necessary tools to engage in farming business, it opened my eyes, however, on two worth-to-know facts about Agribusiness: on one hand, I’ve learned that the world of food production, processing, distribution, retail and services industry (which is controlled by a few corporations) has destroyed others country agricultural systems and is collectively plagued with discrimination by race or gender in the USA; on the other hand, I’ve learned that a plant growth being a biological process, it’s crucial that the soil on which that plant grows be a living one. Unfortunately, with the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in industrial conventional Agriculture, millions of acres of agricultural soil are becoming unfit for Agriculture in the USA and around the world. 
As an immigrant with neither an Agriculture background nor an Agriculture degree, I thought that a deep knowledge about these two facts was a necessary and crucial tool to have before getting into that field and, in the long term, in order to efficiently and effectively manage my business. And Farm-School NYC, a local urban Farming program, is where these two subjects constitute the core teaching and what I’ve been learning about since I’ve got into the program last year. With all that I’ve learned there until today, I am confident that I am moving forward closer and closer to my goal of feeding communities here, and eventually around the world, with healthy and organic food.
Farm school has been for me a key tool to learn about what is going on within the food industry, especially how Race and Science have been misused by a handful of people and corporations in order to nationally and internationally dominate the all food industry. The consequences are, indeed, grave: Destruction of agriculture systems in many countries around the world, introduction of a new agricultural practices that expose human beings to dangerous illnesses that, if these practices 
We need a new type of farmers, the farmers who will practice a sustainable Agriculture that takes nature into account. In helping me understand the food industry and the science behind sustainable Agriculture, Farm School has brought me close to my goal of feeding human beings with healthy food, and, hopefully, next year after I take all my advanced classes I will be ready to tackle this challenge...A path toward a new, clean world that will save life on our planet.