2002-10-19 / Community

‘Just Food’ Honors Urban Farmers

‘Just Food’ Honors Urban Farmers

Six urban farmers have been recognized by "Just Food" for increasing food access in their neighborhoods, and one of them is Far Rockaway resident McKinley Hightower-Beyah of The Farmer’s Market.

An astounding number of New Yorkers have poor access to fresh produce. Just Food’s City Farms program, through their Grow More Food Campaign, fosters better access to healthy, fresh produce by encouraging people to grow their own. Hundreds of gardens throughout the city, including many under threat of development, make critical contributions to their neighborhoods by providing rare and beautiful open space and by growing food for their neighborhood families. Many of these gardens also donate food to soup kitchens and others in need.

This is Just Food’s first year in recognizing the contributions of a few City Farms, although many more deserve recognition for their tremendous achievements and contributions.

Just Food’s Grow More Food Campaign awards and their winners for 2002 are:

City Farmer Award: Johanna Willins, Herbal Garden, East New York, Brooklyn. Johanna hosts workshops on composting and intensive growing and helps to market other City Farms members’ products at her table at the East New York Farms! Community Market.

Mentor Award: McKinley Hightower-Beyah, God’s Battalion Loving Care Center, Far Rockaway, Queens. McKinley is the first to attend our Heifer International - sponsored "Training of Trainers" program designed to help members pass on the gift of training. McKinley provides workshops on intensive growing techniques. In his community garden he incorporates trellises and other techniques to maximize food production. He distributes the garden fresh produce to his local community via God’s Battalion Loving Care Center food pantry.

Largest Harvest for Donation Award: Bissel Gardens, Wakefield, Bronx. Bissel Gardens has already grown and donated 1,100 pounds of produce this season, with more to come. The garden donates to Gateway Counseling, Mt. Hebron, and St. Lukes of the Bronx & Sacred Heart Church of Mt Vernon.

Crop Diversity Award: Taqwa Community Farm, Highbridge, Bronx. Taqwa has an extensive variety of fruit trees, vegetables, and herbs including sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, okra, peaches, figs, and pears. As for herbs, Taqwa has more then you can imagine.

Community Award: Euclid 500, East New York, Brooklyn. Euclid 500 runs a garden and food pantry. It was given the Community Award to honor its gardeners who work so well with volunteers and their community.

Farm-Stand Award: Garden of Happiness, Crotona, Bronx. The Garden of Happiness saw the tremendous need for fresh produce and this season took its first steps toward starting a neighborhood farm-stand.

Just Food’s City Farms program works to increase food production, marketing and distribution via community gardens throughout New York City. They collaborate with other city groups with expertise in horticulture, marketing, garden preservation, leadership development and emergency food relief. Our partners are Heifer International, Cornell Cooperative Extension-NYC, Green Guerillas, Green Thumb, City Harvest, and Northeast Organic Farmers Association-NY. Together, they provide workshops, training materials, and networking opportunities to enable communities to grow more food.

The City Farms program is made possible in part by grants from Heifer International, Merck Family Fund, Lawson Valentine Foundation, Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, Love 4 One Another, Share Our Strength, Timberland and individual contributions.

For more information on these Gardens and Just Food’s City Farms Program, contact Kathleen McTigue at (212) 645-9880 ex.13 or e-mail: kathleen@justfood.org

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