The Youth Engagement Zone at Banana Kelly: Urban Farmers in the Bronx Provide Role Models
By Stephanie Gilman, Program Manager
Banana Kelly’s 9th grade trip on April 27th took us out of the classroom and into one of a handful of local urban farms that are changing access to healthy food in New York City. Partnering with Bronx Green Up, the Youth Engagement Zone’s students ventured to La Finca Del Sur, the Bronx’s first urban farm to be founded and operated entirely by women. Their mission is as simple as it is crucial: they seek to provide the space, resources, and training to produce fresh, affordable, quality food locally. They’ve turned three acres of land in the city into a veritable health food center, including the farm itself, a marketplace, a health & wellness hub, a children’s science program, and a community gathering/performance space.
[pullquote]We’re always seeking role models in service to which we can expose the students at Banana Kelly, and La Finca provided great ones.[/pullquote]
We’re always seeking role models in service to which we can expose the students at Banana Kelly, and La Finca provided great ones. Near the start of the day, La Finca volunteer Regina Ginyard asked our class to describe the picture that comes to mind when they think of the word “farmer”. Most of them associated the term with white, rustic men – a stereotype Regina herself challenged by being an urban woman of color. Seeing an individual they could identify with inhabiting the role of farmer and gardener was a subtle inspiration – paired with the fact that the students participated in wood chip mulching, compost spreading, and weeding, the day provided a snapshot of nutritional and community confidence.
Student Tanjimun Nahar reported that this was the first time she had ever planted seeds in a garden, and it made her proud to think that someone would be eating from a harvest to which she’d contributed. Rebecca Ruiz, a student with attendance issues, commented that “it was fun and showed me that I like being in school.” Catherine Rodruguez liked the work so much that she has decided to apply for a part-time summer job at La Finca.