Urban Farming: A Healthier New York
Urban Farming Transforms Harlem, NYC
Shontanyce Bailey, after becoming a certified (GPRO) Green Building Professional, has become a leading voice for Green City Force. She has helped to promote their efforts by appearing on televised news segments. Shontanyce was also invited to speak at, “WE Day NYC 2017,” where well-known public figures such as, Martin Luther III and Buzz Aldrin attended as guest speakers. Green City Force (GCF) is an AmeriCorps program that engages young adults from low income communities in national service related to the environment. In doing so, GCF prepares them for sustainable careers, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building a green city.
The Role Community Plays
GCF constructed four farms on New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) properties. Three of these farms were constructed just this past summer. The Farms at NYCHA program is part of Building Healthy Communities (BHC), a city-wide partnership focused on improving health outcomes in 12 neighborhoods throughout the city. The farms are designed to bring organic produce to food deserts and promote sustainable living in public housing communities. Their presence is intended to encourage residents to engage in local green spaces and start important conversations about food and environmental justice.
Food Desserts are areas that have been highly populated with fast-food chains, while fresh-produce markets are non-existent.
Many urban areas in NYC have been notoriously classified as, “food deserts”. This is why GCF has been focusing their efforts in places such as Harlem, NYC. GCF’s ambition is to transform how communities' value public opinion in order to catalyze profound changes within impoverished areas. Organizing town meetings and conducting surveys are just a few ways GCF has adamantly made their efforts known. Another step GCF has taken in pioneering a sustainable-community, pertains to their motivational approach in rewarding citizens for their involvement.
Changing One Life Changes Another
Anyone who makes an effort, in strengthening the farms’ full functionality, will receive a fair share of crops. The organization has also developed youth camps, where mentors can help children and teens develop skills such as, culinary techniques, organic-farming methods etc. These mentors also provide hands-on guidance, which has helped to create future career opportunities. Shontanyce, after seeking a new career-path, was referred to this organization by a close friend. In her graduation testimonial, Shontanyce states,
“Not only did I learn about the community, farming, cooking healthier, and becoming eco-friendly, I learned about myself. I learned how powerful my voice is.”
It has become evident that GCF’s engagement towards poverty-stricken areas has metaphorically spouted a river of hope and refuge, running through Harlem and many other areas throughout NYC.