Testimonials - Melissa Cipollone

 Testimonial - Melissa Cipollone, Farm School NYC Student

I am a current student in Farm School NYC’s certificate program. I joined the program because I aspire to start a small farm that is socially, financially, and ecologically sustainable. I aim to grow nourishing food that is accessible to some of the most vulnerable populations, including children, people who are incarcerated, people dealing with physical and mental health issues, and people living in poverty. I also aspire to teach farming to people of all ages and experience levels.

My experience with the school has been nothing short of wonderful. It’s helped me confirm that farming is indeed a career I want to pursue, and its comprehensive curriculum has thoroughly prepared me to take the next big step toward transitioning from my current career as a communications professional to sustainable farming.

This coming spring (2015), I will be participating in a full-time farming apprenticeship program. I was accepted to apprentice at a nonprofit farm in Washington State, and was even offered a scholarship for fifty percent of the program’s tuition (amounting to $2,600). I am sure my acceptance to this program and the scholarship that was offered to me was a direct result of Farm School NYC. I also applied to the Farm & Garden Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture at the University of California Santa Cruz. I expect to learn of my acceptance status to this program in December.

In many ways, the Farm School NYC has become a centerpiece of the burgeoning urban agriculture movement in New York City. It is the only organization of its kind in this city, and its promise is enormous. Every year, more New Yorkers like myself become interested in food justice and sustainable agriculture. Without Farm School NYC, many of us would not be able to effectively pursue our farming goals. More likely than not, we’d need to leave the city for comprehensive farming education, and many will be unable to do so. Sustainable agriculture will suffer a devastating blow if Farm School NYC ceases to continue.

But if the school is provided the support it needs, I’m confident it will grow into a farming education model that will be replicated in urban areas across the country. Ultimately, I believe the school and the many other educational programs it will inspire, will be an important source of thousands of new farmers that this country so desperately needs.

Farm School NYC is not only about farming, however. It works to build community among its students, staff, and leaders. I have to admit that while sounding beautiful, the concept of “building community” has always seemed a bit vague to me. It’s hard to measure, and usually you have to just trust that it’s happening when you’re working toward it. After recently learning of the uncertain fate of Farm School NYC, for the first time I feel I’ve witnessed truly tangible results of community building.

In this challenging time, Farm School NYC leaders, students, staff, and the broader urban farming and food justice communities in New York City, are working together in a variety of ways to ensure the continued existence of this important organization. My desire to write this testimonial, and the many others I’m sure you’ll read, are tangible results of “building community.” I hope that the incredible support that Farm School NYC has garnered is interpreted to be indicative of its success at building a resilient community of people who are prepared to support one another in changing the world for the better.