Rooted in social and environmental justice, EcoStation:NY empowers community members through innovative, sustainable urban agriculture projects that nurture the community. Farm-In-The-Sky will nearly double EcoStation's production space, and grow an estimated three tons of food annually. Key to the work of EcoStation is the integration of youth programing with all our projects. Fourteen youth will be employed to build and run Farm-In-The-Sky, through our Food Justice Team, a paid summer internship in its fourth year.
We are counting on this Kickstarter campaign (and YOU) to make this a reality!
Farm-In-The-Sky is intrinsically tied to the people it will serve and is resolved to improve the overall well-being of the community. The health issues that plague Bushwick - obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension - are all intertwined with diet. With Farm-In-The-Sky, we will increase access to healthy food in the low income neighborhood of Bushwick, and create opportunities for people - especially women, people of color and recent immigrants - to grow food for themselves. We base our project on the strengths we see in our community, not just the challenges.
Farm-In-The-Sky will be utilizing traditional and experimental, “DIY” growing techniques to grow food for the community. The site, atop a new building and community center in Bushwick named Mayday, will become a center for urban agriculture and food education. This building will also become home to EcoStation’s moved headquarters, literally cementing EcoStation’s place in the community it has proudly served for the past five years.
By doubling our production space to 24,000 square feet (including the Bushwick Campus Farm, described below), Farm-In-The-Sky will allow us to reach more people by growing an additional 6,000 pounds of food annually, making EcoStation’s annual yield 12,000 pounds of food!
All of our current designs and weight measurements, at water holding capacity, have been approved by the building's structural engineer. We also have a detailed contract and lease agreement between EcoStation:NY and the supportive building owners that ensures us a five year lease on both the farming spaces and our office.
In keeping with EcoStation’s focus on human and environmental health, Farm-In-The-Sky will be employing "sustainable practices." Irrigation will be achieved through a “rainwater harvesting“ catchment system, powered by nearby solar panels. Organic waste (kitchen/vegetable scraps) will be composted, then cycled back into the garden. Farm-In-The-Sky will also be used as an event space and outdoor classroom for the community, offering a variety of workshops on topics ranging from organic farming and plant care to social justice issues to healthy cooking. Future plans include a seasonal terrace greenhouse with vermicomposting and aquaponic systems.
During Farm-In-The-Sky’s first year, crops will be weighed, then donated to youth, volunteers, and senior citizen centers. In successive seasons, produce will be both donated and sold to help cover operational expenses. Farm-In-The-Sky aims to become more self-sustaining by creating “added value” offerings, and selling specialty produce including “microgreens” (grown under solar panels!), hot sauces, flowers, and herbal remedies at EcoStation’s five farmers' markets and local restaurants.
With a Seed Grant awarded by United Way of New York City, EcoStation’s Farm-In-The-Sky has been planted. Your matching support will enable EcoStation to undergo the next phase of our vital work and ensure Bushwick's residents eat and live better by making fresh, healthy food accessible and affordable.
To build Farm-In-The-Sky, EcoStation’s Food Justice Team, a paid summer internship program for Bushwick Campus students now in its fourth year, will hire fourteen youth for two full months this summer. In addition to monetary rewards, these young people - our society’s next decision-makers- are gaining invaluable life lessons about teamwork, leadership, responsibility and community. Our summer program focuses on community resiliance, public speaking, and youth leading youth through ongoing trainings and eye-opening discussions around the intersections of social justice, equity and food.
Three Food Justice Team Leaders
Featured in our video are three wonderful young women we are very proud of. Involved with the Bushwick Campus Farm since its inception, Iyeshima, Kristina, and Benia have grown and matured along with the plants they helped grow (and eat!), and have each shown leadership, intelligence, and commitment to improving their community. With your support, Farm-In-The-Sky will not only produce food, it will create more opportunities for remarkable young leaders just as EcoStation has done at the Bushwick Campus.
Iyeshima Harris Iyeshima became involved with EcoStation as a freshman in high school. Now about to depart for college, Iyeshima dreams of being a successful biomedical research scientist, so she can give back to the hands that fed her. Indeed, when Iyeshima's dad recently had a heart attack, she was able to help him overhaul his health by cooking meals using organic vegetables from the farm, which her family could not otherwise afford. Furthermore, the farm helps Iyeshima feel connected to nature - something she struggled with since moving to the city from her native Jamaica.
Kristina Erskine Like her best friend Iyeshima, Kristina is a dreamer and an activist. She envisions a world where everyone has equal access to food. On the Campus Farm, Kristina doesn't just grow food - she grows the world she wants to exist. She is constantly busy - conducting workshops, touring people around the farm or planting flowers at a senior center; she collaborates with anyone and everyone. When she is not a the farm - or making her daily two-hour trek to and from school - Kristina is sharing fresh vegetables with her family and creating dishes inspired by her family's Caribbean, Indian, and Chinese heritage.
Benia Darius Born in Haiti and raised in the U.S., Benia is a model student. Smart and outgoing, she is the spokesperson for a number of student social justice organizations and has lobbied many politicians on numerous social, educational, and health justice actions. Despite her full schedule, Benia still finds time to do what she loves: cook. A kale aficionado, Benia is a huge advocate for seasonal eating and loves to show others how to prepare her favorite dishes. She has been an assistant manager at Bushwick Farmers’ Market for two years, and is a certified Just Food Community Chef.
Young people like Iyeshima, Kristina, and Benia represent the future of food in NYC. Your support will enable EcoStation to help more students like them blossom - and undergo the next phase of our vital work nurturing underserved communities by ensuring the next generation will eat better. By making fresh, local food accessible to all, Farm-In-The-Sky will be tackling social, environmental, and health issues. And you can help!
Farm-In-The Sky Managers
Ana Moran, Sari Gonzalez and D. Rooney are EcoStation's co-managers of this exciting project. Stay tuned to hear more about each of then in our updates!
Budget: Where Your Money Will Go
- Food Justice Team (summer stipends for 14 youth): $15,000
- Food & Social Justice Intensive (3-day, cross-generational anti-oppression workshop for 40): $4,000
- Solar Panels: $3,000
- Educational Water Catchment System, Pump, and Irrigation Supplies: $2,100
- Vermiponics (aquaponics system): $330
- Soil: $2,900
- Chairs, table, sitting area, awning, etc.: $800
- Worm Benches: $500
- Group meals: $500
- Educational Field trips: $360
- Staff and Volunteer T-Shirts: $280
- Vertical wall growing supports: $230
- Total: $30,000
Further Reading Below:
- Background: About EcoStation:NY
- Community: Our Partners
- Background: About Bushwick, Brooklyn
Background: About Bushwick, Brooklyn
Like most urban neighborhoods, Bushwick is densely populated and diverse: Latino, African-American, Caribbean-American and immigrant communities all call it home. And, like most urban neighborhoods, access to fresh produce is limited. Many live below the poverty line and rely on food stamps. Preventable, diet-related illnesses abound, and one in three children are obese. Although they face daunting challenges, city neighborhoods can play a vital role in tackling the problems that have long plagued them, while also addressing global environmental concerns in a socially just way.
Background: About EcoStation:NY
Founded in 2009 by longtime Bushwick residents, EcoStation:NY connects the neighborhood with the environment and with local, fresh produce through dynamic urban agriculture programs.
EcoStation's five weekly Bushwick Farmer's Market locations now reach over 45,000 customers each season, approximately 60% of whom use WIC and EBT as payment. To support local agriculture, we work with six area farms, all owned and operated by first- or second-generation immigrant families that reflect our community's beautiful diversity. Additionally, all of our markets host cooking demos, in 2013 alone our youth and community members gave 125 cooking demos!
Founded in 2011, EcoStation's all-organic, 16,000-square-foot Bushwick Campus Farm & Greenhouse (previously funded by Kickstarter!) is a center for education and community engagement, just as Farm-In-The-Sky will be. More than 500 students are now enrolled in weekly classes using the farm as an outdoor classroom. Only organic agricultural techniques are used here: no chemical fertilizers or pesticides are allowed. Students and other visitors learn how food is grown, harvested, prepared, and celebrated. People of all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds are brought together in the process.
In 2013, Bushwick Campus Farm yielded 6,000 pounds of produce and distributed 12,000 vegetable seedlings in NYC - but food is just one of the many benefits of the farm. It also offers vital job training and leadership skill development for youth on our Food Justice Team, and for adults enrolled in our Community Apprentice Program. All gain professional development experience by helping manage EcoStation's farm and markets, helping to build and restore community gardens, leading workshops, and organizing community events.
In his article for The Indypendent (“New York’s Food Future”), writer Thomas Forster sums EcoStation up tidily:
"In Bushwick, Brooklyn, a community with high levels of poverty and limited food options, EcoStation:NY has begun to change how this community of New Yorkers buys, eats, and identifies with food. Bushwick Campus Farm involves children in school gardens and cooking classes, helping them understand how food gets from the farm to the dinner table. The families of the students working in the gardens come out to the retail farmers market to buy locally grown produce and gain a deeper understanding of what their children are learning."
Community: Our Partners
We are very proud that we have secured $30,000 from United Way of New York City to begin our project, but it will take a strong network of partners on the ground to see Farm-In-The-Sky reach its full potential. Luckily, EcoStation has some great friends!
Risks and challenges
There are often risks involved when undertaking revolutionary projects that have the capacity to empower communities and create lasting change - in our case, we are seeking real change in our food system, and in the lives and futures of the bright youth we work with.
In addition to funding, a big challenge will be time. We would like to complete phase one of the Farm-In-The-Sky buildout within three months (between July and September). This means sourcing all the materials, organizing community work days, planning workshops, and much more. However, the EcoStation community is very large, and we will be harnessing the power of fourteen Bushwick teens to make it happen!
Another challenge that our staff takes into account on a daily basis is making sure that the youth we work with feel challenged but supportive during their time with us; just as at Bushwick Campus Farm, we are working with society’s next decision-makers, training the next generation of leaders in the food justice movement.
EcoStation has been running our Food Justice Team summer internship and school programs for four years now, and we strive to improve each and every day through constant and open communication, and continuously looking to our alumni, graduates, and youth leaders to advise us.
City neighborhoods can play a vital role in tackling the problems that have long plagued them, while also addressing global environmental concerns in a socially just way.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)