Have you attended one of our C.R.A.F.T days or summits? Have you participated in an exchange over the summer? Let us know more about your experience by sharing a reflection piece to the YFJN. Reflection pieces can be as creative as needed, blog post, photo collage, video, etc.
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Reflection Piece Worksheet
Two Perspectives, Youth & Staff: a reflection on NESAWG
Youth from Friends of the High Line
This year I attended the NESAWG Conference as one of the alumni within Friends of the High Line. It was a great experience as I learned and realized how powerful us youth are and we must apply our collective power for good. The inspiration I gained is outstanding as I saw what these youth led groups were doing for their community which made me realize that I have to be the change I want to see. We must know our (youth) power which is why many conferences and companies want us to tag along because their goal is to attract an audience of all ages and we know what we want which is why they want us on their side. Viva la Youth Empowerment!
by D’en Vargas
Staff from Added Value
As we walk through the dark wood paneled lobby of the Lord Baltimore hotel, a grand baby piano greets us, almost out of place in this lobby full of bustling teens, all excited to play their role in NESAWG’s annual It Takes a Region Conference. A little background about NESAWG – its central role is to bring together farm and food systems practitioners within the Northeast region to collaborate, discuss, exchange solutions and ideas on how to heal the chronic food systems that exist.
After we grab our name tags and a muffin (or two) we settled into preparing our workshop. We, the youth food justice network were chosen to start off the youth track programming of the conference with a workshop whose theme was Youth Leadership vs. Youth Empowerment. We explored the differences and the similarities and what that means in the work we do as individuals, organizations and a network. It flowed beautifully as we broke ice, and did several interactive activities that got everyone moving and excited. The words of Cesar Chavez amongst others sparked conversation- his quote “history will judge societies and governments – and their institutions- not by how big they are or how well they serve the rich and the powerful but by how effectively they respond to the needs of the poor and the helpless” – was recreated into a powerful skit by a group of teenagers, some who’ve never met before this very moment. In that instant, having been a part in starting the conversation, creating the workshop – I was moved to tears. There was a huge rush of emotion that subsided all the anxiety that comes with presenting a workshop to a room of practical strangers for the first time, a realization that this movement was bigger than me, bigger than the three acre farm in Brooklyn I love so much, bigger than all of us. It was the future and these kids in this very room where the determining factors in how it’ll play out.
Well, that is all for now – to another memorable year at NESAWG, thanks again and see you next year!
by Souhair Kenas
We asked youth to sum up their experience in a quote:
“Great learning opportunities.”
“We got to share ideas.”
“It was very fun and went by fast.”
“This experience was great. I was able to interact with new people.”
” I was blown away by the improvements of the farm.”
“This is an amazing way to work with youth outside of my organization.”
“Knowledge is power and helpful.”
“Time is limited for me. However, I am happy I used today for something good.”
“Dream work makes the team work.”
” I was able to experience new things that I have never done before.”
We asked youth to sum up their experience in a quote:
” Inspiring.” “Sensational.” “Motivating.” “Amazing.” “Fun.” “Energetic.”
Rockaway Youth Task Force – RYFT
We asked youth to sum up their experience in a quote:
” I’m looking at the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to make a change.”
“Everyone must have equal access to equal food.”
“Healthy food is a human right!”
” Great gathering that brought awareness to different issues.”
“Change comes to those who creates it!”
“Wow, I’m woke.”
Friends of the High Line
We’re Leaving Our Mark
Approaching the elevator as we looked up to where we were headed
A place I’ve personally never seen before, a place I’ve heard of but could have never imagined
One leg after the other as we stepped into the elevator
Gracefully rising to another destination much greater
It was an office in which we sat down and there we introduced ourselves
Creating a friendly environment where we talked about our organizations you should’ve seen for yourself
The knowledge gained, the new people I met
For the task that was given, and how it was described, I felt all set
Ready to put on my gloves anticipating getting dirty
But before that we were given a tour it was like before 11:30
In that time we walked through the pastures and learned about the history
How there was a train that used to pass through and how they left the tracks as part of the structure and planted beautiful flowers around, the unification looking so pretty
My favorite part hands down had to be the smoketree
The way the sun beamed on the burgundy leaves that glisten like really
If you were there you’d want to take a selfie with it
Like something you need to sit
For and analyze its every structure
And keep you thinking if there was anything more
We moved on to what you would call the high line compost section
Where when in it, I observed a new system of operation
There were bins built differently to allow oxygen in the soil for the bacteria insects and fungi
This is without having to open the bin because the sides have little slits like oh my
Then we saw their new automotive compost turning machine which saves time and energy
So much excitement and growth we were all focused centrally
Besides that we headed back to the office in which we started from and there we discussed the major reasons we do what we do
After finalizing it to the top five, we got into five different groups and choosing the topics we described how to take action and our response at the end was due
We all read out our ideas and chose the group with the largest vote
Which was building more food accessible spots for our community and on that note
We all made it clear that just because that idea had the most votes doesn’t mean that the other ones didn’t matter
Because they all do but we must take one step at a time in order to shatter
The adversities we may face
And take it all up with grace
To finish this race
To keeping our communities unified in one place
So at the high line I learned a lot
And there was nothing better than observing, discussing and finalizing our goal which ultimately turned into a plot
A new journey for the Youth Food Justice Network
And look we’ve already made our mark
East New York Farms!
Added Value Farms, Red Hook
On the very first Craft Day, we split up in several different groups. In my opinion, I was in the group that was the most labor intensive. I had a great time though with the group I was in. It was also my first time using a wheelbarrow and it was much easier than people made it out to be. However, it was really hard rolling the compost out of the wheelbarrow. The other kids were really helpful.
The craft day at the Red Hook Farm gave us a lot of hands on work, and each group did something different like planting seeds and composting. It was a productive day and we got to meet new people from other groups.
Weeding, clearing land,
Planting seeds for food justice
Down here in Red Hook
At this CRAFT Day, I got to revisit Added Value’s Farm. Although it was not as sunny as last year, it was still just as lively, if not more. Helping out with the compost alongside Added Value’s youth was fun. We shoveled the wood chips in wheelbarrows. The labor might have seemed monotonous, but it was actually a lot of fun. I also got a good workout from it.
People’s Climate March- Washington, DC
Dear Farm Diary,
It’s Nia here! I’m writing to you today to talk about my experience at the People’s Climate March, which happened on April 29th, 2017.
Now you may be asking yourself ‘what is the People’s Climate March?’ The People’s Climate March is an event for people who feel like climate change really affects them and their environment to come out and advocate for global action. It was a big protest that happened in Washington DC and all around the country and across the globe where more than 200,000 came together to take a stand for what we believe in.
This was part of my reasoning for attending the People’s Climate March. I viewed it as me being part of a movement that’s main purpose was to, or is to, bring about changes that would help the people living on this earth right now and new people to come in the future. My second reason for attending the People’s Climate March was because it was going to be the first march I’ve ever been to!! My third reasoning for attending the People’s Climate March was to learn about new and/or more factors that has resulted from climate changes and to expand my general knowledge of the People’s Climate Movement.
Now let me take you back in time to the morning of the march….
The morning started off with Corey, Thomas, Anthony, and I meeting at 5am and loading snack bags, posters, bottles of water and probably an emergency bag into an Uber during a surprise thunderstorm! We took the Uber from Red Hook to the coach bus at Borough Hall. The bus ride to Washington D.C. was quiet and kind of warm because everyone was mostly sleep or just kept to themselves.
When we arrived at the march along other organizations that went (East New York Farms, The Friends Of The Highline, NEBHDCo, and many more!!) we (Added Value) discussed what the day was going to look like for us, which was marching, short and simple. Before Corey and I took the steps to joining the march we saw this cart filled with hats, buttons, etc pertaining to the People’s Climate March, the Women’s March and Donald Trump. Corey and I were so excited over the SWAG that we forgot that the other half of our group had gotten caught up in the march already and we had to leave the cart behind and join the rest of our group.
During the march I saw cool and different posters filled with different ideas and perspectives about people’s feelings towards Climate Change and how it affects them. One poster that stood out to me was this poster that these two older women were holding captioned with “We’re marching for our grandkids.” This poster stood out to me because it made me come to this realization of how the generations to come also needs an earth to call home and how this earth is like the only earth we have and how we really need to protect it, keep it in shape, and make it still suitable for life to still go on. Throughout the March I got to lead in the group chant “Cook organic not the planet” which was pretty cool and loud.
We ended off the day and the march by taking pictures of the White House, the Washington Monument, hearing people voice out their opinions about Donald Trump, and more. Then we met up with East New York Farms and Friends of the Highline to do a debrief about the day. Then we ate pizza & ice cream before getting on the bus back to Brooklyn. We got home around 10pm and had our closing circle where we talked about what we learned and took away from the People’s Climate March.
If you were wondering, we still didn’t get our hats because the man with the cart was nowhere to be found.