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Happy Farmer's Day

by Karim Orange

If you ate today, thank a farmer! Today we salute our farmers nationwide. From beef to produce and dairy, we give thanks to farmers. Let's face it, farming and farming practices mean different things to different people and regions in America. Most people think about farming existing only in in rural areas. I would like to share information on urban farming in places like New York City. I currently study urban agriculture at NYC Farm School, and belong to two community gardens in the South Bronx (we grow food, not flowers). I had the chance to interview a few people in New York City about urban farming practices. Here is what they would like to share with you on National Farmers Day: 

Nancy Ortiz, one of the founders of La Finca Del Sur (South Bronx Community Farm): 

"'La Finca del Sur'" means farm of the South. This name was chosen to reflect the Latino heritage of many of our farmers. We wanted to tie together our location in the South Bronx with the heritage of the South Bronx (southern United States as well as the global south). We have several facets to our organization. The majority of our farmers are women and self-identify as black or Latina. We took an empty, unsightly lot on 138th Street and created a beautiful community-led farm. Our goal is to address food access, environmental justice and community empowerment."

Lilly Kesselman Dunn, South Bronx Farmers Market: Lilly runs the South Bronx Farmers Market.

"I studied urban agriculture at Just Foods. It was a great education, because we had hands-on community gardening once a week. The gardens were different sizes. Everyone has their own practice and internships. I learned how to run a farmers' market based on three points: food sovereignty, food relevance and food. The South Bronx farmers' market is something that we can do for ourselves. My favorite part of the market is observing people who share recipes with each other. I met a woman who had only eaten beets from a can. When she tried fresh beats she was overwhelmed and came back to the farmers' market to share the story."

Greg, Urban agriculture manager and teacher at NYC Farm School:

"I manage three initiatives: urban agriculture education, the City Chicken Project and the urban agriculture Training of Trainers (ToT). Urban agriculture education involves developing, scheduling and facilitating workshops on subjects like raised-bed building, soil health, composting, and other urban agriculture skills. I organize these workshops for community gardens throughout New York City and also for our partner organizations. The City Chicken Project works with community groups, gardens, and schools to educate about chicken health, integrating chickens into your garden or farm's ecosystem, and to facilitate chicken coop builds."

I asked Greg to define urban farming. Here is what he had to say:

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"Urban farming can be defined as the ability to adapt rural farming skills and techniques to an urban environment, e.g., settings like community gardens, rooftop gardens, school gardens and parks. Urban farming can also involve maximizing the use of space through techniques such as aquaponics, hydroponics, container gardening, and vertical growing, among others. Some of the many benefits can include learning to grow your own food, engaging young people in community involvement, creating more green spaces, cultivating entrepreneurship, and preserving family and traditional agricultural knowledge through elders and young people working together. Farming has the capacity to help people cultivate important life skills such as patience, discipline, planning, self-reliance, and entrepreneurship, so it is ideal for young people."

Today is the day to celebrate farmers nationwide! Please celebrate yours.

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