Urban Farming

Nearly a month ago I posted about an urban farm in Brooklyn managed by BK Farmyards.  They have an Urban Agriculture Certificate Training Program, and I had sent in an application.

I am delighted (over the moon, actually) to say that I was offered a spot in the program, and I accepted!  I start this coming Monday, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!  I’ve been sitting on this news for a couple of weeks now, counting down the days until I start “Farm School.”

I love the group’s mission (taken from their website):


“We want to unite communities around the dinner table and hope to teach people about eating seasonally, growing food locally, storing & preparing food, species biodiversity & food democracy. We aim to build local food networks, enhancing the health of our culture, people & environment by connecting farmers & consumers as co-producers of the foodscape.  We transform underutilized land into farms, encouraging the communal celebration of food”

The “farm” where I’ll be training is an acre of land which is part of a high school – The High School for Public Service.  Students there get to take agriculture classes as part of their curriculum along with cooking and nutrition classes.  From what I hear, the kids set up cooking demos at the on-premises Farm Market stand to share new foods with people in the community and show them how to use them.

While it is a youth farm, I will be participating in the adult training program, and I’ll get a serious education!  The nine components of the program are:

  • Hands-on farm work
  • Informal workshops (taught by youth farm staff and guests)
  • Farm walks
  • Weekly farm meetings
  • Rotations (irrigation, propagation, vegetable and flower field work, market & CSA – community supported agriculture
  • Direct marketing
  • Working with youth
  • NYC Craft visits to other urban agriculture projects (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training)
  • Discussions on food justice

I’ll be on the farm 3 days/week for a total of 20 hours weekly, and the program runs all the way through November.  This schedule will allow me to work part-time on weekends and two weekdays, which will make it possible for me to pay for the training (and rent!)

Last October, when I lost my office job, I never dreamed I’d spend 2012 training on a farm.  It has been, in some ways, a really rough several months of being unemployed and lacking not only money, but direction.  I turned the big 4-0 two weeks ago, and needless to say the prospect of turning 40, being unemployed, not having health insurance, and still not knowing what I wanted to do when I grow up was pretty discouraging.

While I certainly haven’t answered all of the questions, I can say without doubt that I am doing what feels right to me now and going where my heart (and opportunity) seems to be leading.

C.L. Fornari really summed it up for me (without even knowing it) in this recent post on her spectacularly inspiring blog Whole Life Gardening:

“Whenever possible in life, it’s helpful to see change as an opportunity, even when we might not have chosen that particular circumstance as the ideal time to be adaptable.”

She was speaking in regard to having lost some plants and needing to decide whether to keep, move, or divide the remaining plants…of course her words always have a deeper meaning.  Six months ago I certainly did not want to lose my job or our health insurance.  It was not a job I was happy in, I was not doing something I really wanted to do or even supported, and it was really taking a toll.  Still, I never would have left of my own accord.  Had they not decided to replace me with someone who could speak Chinese (true story!), I might very well still be there, miserable, instead of about to embark on what I feel is going to be a wonderful experience.  Seeing change as an opportunity is a lesson I continue to have to learn.  Thank you, C.L., for the reminder!

As for the farm, I am eager to absorb and learn everything that I possibly can about growing food on a large scale, carpentry, and maybe even keeping bees and raising chickens if I’m lucky. It will be great to have conversations about food justice and policy issues as well.

I’m looking forward to posting weekly about the farm in addition to my own gardening projects, and eager to see where this knowledge and experience will take me!

20 thoughts on “Urban Farming

  1. Sometimes when life throws you curves, those unexpected surprises down the road can turn into something wonderful. Good luck with your farm program, I think you’ll really enjoy it. I wish I could have done such a program here. I wasn’t always spending my days in chicken and turkey pens, or working bees in 80F weather, or feeding goats. I had a little curve thrown at me a few years ago, which resulted in a change of direction, and now, honestly, I couldn’t be happier. I could be less tired, but it’s a good tired 😉

    • Thank you for the encouragement! I have read all about your goats and other animals and have appreciated all the terrific information you have about them on your site. I’ve been stockpiling and bookmarking so much of it away for the day when I hope to be able to put it to use!

      This is a most welcome curve to have been thrown my way, and I’m grateful for it. I knew when I lost the job it was somehow a blessing, but 4 or 5 months later it seemed hard to remember that.

      Glad to know you are happier as a result of your changes – wonderful to hear! “Good tired” is still good. 😉

  2. I’m so happy for you, Aimee! And I really can’t wait to read your reports as you take this journey. Did you know I’m also a dental hygienist? My gardening and writing didn’t come until 2005/2007. You just never know where your life will take you if you let it! I think you’re going to really love this!

    • Kylee! You’ve only been gardening and writing for about 6 years?? Incredible! I wouldn’t have guessed it. And now you have chickens! It’s very inspiring to hear this.

      I am actually an actress – have been for about 10 years. It’s my “other” passion, but it has become so unbelievably hard to make any sort of living at all…gradually I have wanted a better quality of day-to-day life as I’m getting older. Working as an administrative assistant was fine when I was still really pursuing theater…but once I stepped away from it, the office work was all I had…and it was not what I wanted. I’m really grateful this farming opportunity came my way. And I’m so inspired by how much you’ve done in the past few years – wow!!

      • It’s what happens sometimes when follow a passion! I just jumped in with both feet and began making up for lost time! I didn’t know you were an actress. How fun! And how hard, too. Life is just one adventure after another, isn’t it? 🙂

  3. So exciting! This seems like an incredible program and an amazing thing to participate in; the practical, hands-on approach is a huge draw as well. Wishing you the best in your studies!

  4. Aimee, I’m so happy for you–what a great opportunity! The program sounds fantastic. I know what you mean about the hunt for a direction (still looking for mine…) and how discouraging or wheel-spinning it can be. Inertia’s hard to break out of, both when you’re unemployed and when you have a dead-end but stable job. So double-yay for having the wheels in motion, and for this great new adventure! Hope your first day tomorrow is a good one. Looking forward to hearing more.

  5. Aimee, I hope you are not getting drenched today, your first day for your courses. Perhaps your excitement to be involved in such an enterprising venture will easily overcome the downside of rain jackets, hoods and Wellies. Looking forward to hearing the details and interested to know the age ranges of the “students”. Soon I’ll be picking your brain for vegetable pointers.

    Good Luck !!!

  6. Aimee I am so excited for you…I jut knew you would be accepted..it is your path unfolding for you….what a fab birthday gift….Happy 4-0 to you…so wish we had a program like this in my part of the state…I hope to find some programs to increase my education once I R-E-T-I-R-E….soon…

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