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.
Need help creating a reflection piece? Check out this worksheet to help you organize a personalized and creative reflection piece that sums up your experience and lessons learned!
Reflection Piece Worksheet
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.
Youth were asked, ‘ Why are CRAFT Days important to you?’
NESAWG Conference 2016
At the first workshop of the day, me and my coworkers from East New York Farms and Friends of the High Line presented in front of at least 80 people. We were extremely nervous but we were able to pull through as we got into the flow of talking about the work that we do. After we finished our presentation, we were able to attend many other workshops that focused on youth leading youth, adultism, and even a workshop that gave the youth a voice to speak on politics following the presidential election.
In the middle of the day, a group of us went to a nearby restaurant to have lunch together. We all got pizza and hung out with new folk. We ended up doing one of social media’s trending challenges, The Mannequin challenge. It basically had all of us freeze in action and take a video with music playing. After our fun lunch, Corey, the youth leader at Added Value, led a facilitated conversation in order for us to get to know each other better and to talk about how we can better connect with each other in the future from such distance across the northeast. We brainstormed as a large group and ended up coming up with the idea that we would stay in touch through social media and plan more events of our own that would involve the same faces meeting and getting familiarized with each other.
After the last workshop of the day was over, we did once more mannequin challenge before we finished the day off with a dinner that the conference provided—it was marvelous. There we all got to sit and take a break from everything we had learned. I was able to ponder back on my experience, and I realized that going through the time and effort of planning to host workshops and planning how to represent your organization wasn’t for nothing. All of us youth simply attending and giving ourselves a voice, exchanging contact information by will, was spreading promotion of the movement on its own. The idea of networking, speaking up, and connecting to others has become natural as I get accustomed to the conference routine. I was able to learn that we are not the only ones within this movement, and that adultism is becoming a more familiar topic in society. I see that not only youth but some of our adults are passionate about a change that will make space for the youth of this generation to step up.
– Nelly B.
Added Value Farms
Attending the NESAWG Conference with the Youth Food Justice Network was enthralling. It was my first time visiting Connecticut and my first time in a long time sleeping in a hotel. During the conference, we learned that this was the first time youth were able to attend and lead their own workshops. We networked amongst ourselves and met other programs that shared our general purpose and goals. I think that we did a great job trying to get every program interested in each other to stay in touch. From the road trip to Connecticut to the road trip back to New York, it was a new experience.
The NESAWG Conference was a great learning experience on a social level, from the heavy focus on social aspects of Food Justice to all the new teen groups we met that do the same work as us. We discussed the various points of view of farmers, mothers, and teachers in the agricultural world, as well as the new president and how he might affect food justice. This was an amazing experience.
The NESAWG Conference
Our first out of state trip
It was really lit
We learned a lot there
I felt like an adult yay
It was so professional
And met cool people
It was amazing how so
Many groups cared yay
Youth can make a change
What a cool experience
We do have to say
No one can stop us
We could make a difference
Go youth!!! Woohoo yay 🙂
We come together
And we all choose to unite
Against all the odds
October , 2016
Friends Of The High Line
On our most recent craft day we were able to deepen relations and communications with East New York Farms and its new members that was not able to take a tour of the High Line. We practiced learning each others names with fun ice breakers that allowed us to get to know each other. After the ice breakers we were given a brief, but concise history of previous Youth Summits and the goals for each. With this recap we were able to assess goals most suitable for this years Summit. We broke out into breakout groups focusing on a specific aspect of the Summit. My breakout group’s focus was on activities/lessons that would educate people on healthy fresh foods while also encouraging them to consider the issues that riddle our society and communities when it comes to foods. Each breakout group presented their ideas and we really made a lot of progress together thinking of proposals. After this we went on a great tour of the High Line that went through much of the history surrounding the area of the High Line and its people. Overall I felt that this C.R.A.F.T. day was a great success and we really got to work together as a team.
With Breakfast eaten,
And Ice broken,
The meeting had begun.
With brains storming,
We started to have fun.
We conjured up solutions,
From all our contributions,
However as 1 o’clock began to near,
Our ideas began to disappear.
Luckily it was time to go outside,
Since our tour guides had just arrived.
Then we have our groups combine,
As we learn the past of the Highline.
Talking and learning an hour goes by,
And we realize just how fast time can fly.
Now Craft Day has ended,
And we all say our goodbyes,
However no sadness is seen,
As excitement fills each eye.
Because we can’t wait,
For the next Craft Day to arrive.
– Darnell Maxwell
I found this past CRAFT day to be incredibly productive, more so than the past one. We met up together and came up with ideas for the next upcoming summit. The categories were materials, food, workshops and social media. I was part of the materials category and it was a lot of fun brainstorming and interacting with the members of the other group; they were very friendly and funny. At the end of it all, we had an outline for what we wanted the summit to look like and were very pleased with it.
July 19, 2016
The Youth Food Justice Network visits Philly Urban Creators
A report-back from Katherine Cunalata- As a new member of Added Value’s Red Hook Community Farm for the summer of 2016, I was given the opportunity to visit another farm called Life Do Grow in Philadelphia. The youth farmers, having a perfect combination of personalities, welcomed myself and my coworkers on their farm. With open arms and a whole lot of excitement, they got the chance to show us how they get things done over in Philly. What they showed us ranged from composting to aquaponics and a little cozy education center. After my trip to Philly, I realized that the majority of New York community farms know a few things about what is called the Food Justice Movement.
This was a day where other farms got the chance to come together and talk about how the Food Justice Movement should be approached as well as what the raw definition of Food Justice is. The day ended with a lot of encouragement towards the youth to take a stand against this issue by starting at the root of it: food distribution. Many discussed trying to help the community make healthier food choices, not only for the sake of eating better but for the sake of nipping at the starting point of most issues closely related to the reason why the Food Justice Movement came into existence like jobs, the economy, immigration, greed in the food industry (and other companies/ industries), hunger, etc. The list continues because our most important source of sustenance, food (water is just as important too), is being manipulated and turned into a “commodity” rather than a key need for human survival. New York City’s community farms are aiming to raise awareness about this issue and encourage young people to think deeper about what really exists behind the scenes in terms of what we eat, how we got it, who made it, and so on.
We live in a world where we turn the other cheek in order to find some bliss in ignorance but this place will definitely find a way to open our eyes a day too late. Therefore, the solution starts with the youth of today who will drive tomorrow into a better future so that generations later will know some humanity and peace.
June 9, 2016
Added Value Farms
Lady bugs crawling on hands
Have you ever heard the honey bees buzz pass your ear as the scent of the blooming flowers linger?
Have you ever seen the calm speed of a rushed snail?
Have you ever felt the tremendous satisfaction of pulling out a weed with the strength of your leg and arm?
All this you can find at Red Hook Community Farm.
April 29, 2016
The Youth Food Justice Network visits Queens County Farm
The CRAFT day gathered teens from different youth programs around New York and allowed us to work together to share ideas in a fun and active way. Even though this is what I feel about it, I also feel that youth programs still stuck within their already established enclaves of social cliques. I think that this is because we teens feel more comfortable around the people we associate with most. Despite this issue I feel that the group work we had was quite efficient. My group was in charge of the name and we were quickly able to make a consensus. The trip to the farm was also a good experience. We were able to learn about the farm in a fun way. I think that the activity we had wasn’t the best, as we used dangerous tools and some of us got a little too excited. I also think that the bus ride to the farm could of been handled better, as we were sort of forced to sit next to people we didn’t know. This had the opposite effect of what was intended.
– Cristian Polanco, Friends of the Highline
“The tour around the farm was fun, as we got to see many animals that we enjoyed, and the hayride was fun and we all seemed to have enjoyed it.”
– Diego Santos, Friends of the Highline
Craft day was an enjoyable experience that amazed me as soon as we got on the bus. Mainly since I never thought it was possible to build and maintain a farm in New York. Not to mention having it include over a dozen chickens, horses and alpacas. Especially since I have never seen an alpaca in real life. The only negatives were really just the long bus ride and lunch. I was confused on when we were allowed to eat it and found out that it wasn’t in the schedule. But all in all I had fun and I’m glad I could take part in this.
– Darnell Maxwell, Friends of the Highline
October 27, 2015
The Food Justice Youth Leadership program from Queens Community House, Pomonok Community Center visits the Brooklyn Grange
reflection piece by: Wanbesley Nacelus, Age 16
I recently went on a trip to the Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm with the Pomonok Food Justice Program. We took the bus and the train to get there and had the special experience of having the head grower give us a tour of the facility when we arrived. During our tour I saw they knew how to compost. We learned that people use food scraps, like egg shells, to make fresh soil. We checked out the hen houses and saw that they had several different breeds of hen. We saw several bee hives and learned that people want to make honey and the bees will help pollinate the flower so the plants can bear fruit. I saw beds of vegetables that were grown in the spring and summer time. I saw some carrots, herbs, kale, and various other vegetables on the rooftop garden. I was amazed how people can live in an urban society and still have values like growing their own food and educating people on what is healthy to eat. At the end of the tour we took a group photo with the Manhattan skyline to our backs!
August 15-18th, 2015
Agatson Urban Nutrition Initiative travels to North Carlina.
Reflection piece by: Angel
Angel visiting Clagett Farms in Upper Marlboro, M.D and SEEDS in Durham, N.C
East New York Farms! visit Rockaway Youth Task Force
Reflection piece by: Dajean Owens
On Tuesday, August 18 2015, I visited the Rockaway Youth Task Force along with other interns from East New York Farms. When we got there, I met the Rockaway Youth Task Force’s youth and staff. they told us about the history of the garden and we learned about the mission of the Rockaway Youth Task Force, which is to empower youth in the local communities through civic engagement and volunteer opportunities.
The staff at RYTF gave me and my fellow interns a tour of their garden. They showed us many things like their solar powered office and tool shed. They also had a large greenhouse and chicken coop. The most memorable part of the trip was when we got to taste the tomatoes. It was also interesting how the RYTF ways of agriculture was similar to our work at east new york farms. For example, they had a rainwater collection system tank and a composting system as well. On the next trip, I look forward to learning about another organization, how and why it was created and the work they do. It was a rewarding experience because of all that I learned and the amazing people I met.
Reflection Piece by: Solomon Aniemeka
On August 18, 2015 a couple of East New York Farms! interns and I journeyed to Far Rockaway to visit a garden site known as the Rockaway Youth Task Force. We were welcomed by two staff members in the program, Kaleel and Jasmine who welcomed us to their garden. Before we started the tour, Kaleel and Jasmine thought it would be a good idea if we could introduce our names and state why we love gardening. During this activity each person learned something new from one another and that gardening has affected our lives in similar ways and that all of us had a common goal to spread gardening throughout our communities.
When we began the tour around the garden, I discovered a few interesting facts about the program. To begin with, the RYTF had a strong connection with their community to the extent that people from different sections of the community will come to their garden to plant their own produce. This is extremely important because the RYTF has opened a great opportunity for people to have access to grow there own produce which will better benefit the community in which the use of healthy produce will increase in the environment, thus reducing the production of fatty substance that can weaken and harm the human body. Furthermore, even though the RYTF program hasn’t been around for a long period of time they are still able to access a solar panel that powers electricity throughout their garden. This is really marvelous because ENYF”s program has been here longer than the RYTF, however we only have one solar panel that powers our greenhouse. This goes to show that the smallest garden can accomplish so much with dedication and hardwork. For the next farm trips, I’m looking forward to learning about other youth farm programs and their impact on their communities.
August 17, 2015
Summer of Solutions Hartford Visits Soul Fire Farm
Reflection Piece by: Son Owens and Drashawn Jones
July 25th Myself who is an Coordinator with Summer of Solutions for three years, and my cousin who is also a interns from Summer of Solutions Hartford went on a trip to the Soul Fire Farm in Petersburg New York, a two hour trip from their home town in Hartford, CT. Before leaving Connecticut we met up with a group of strangers. These folks was not strange we just haven’t met them before, but as we approach them they were more than welcoming. I have been emailing some of these folk and the folks from the Soul Fire farm to prepare for this trip to the farm, I was truly comfortable as we was boarding the school bus with these new people we have never met and driving away from my city. “I was shy at first and standoffish, because I didn’t know nobody” said my cousin Drashawn, “after a few hour I was relax and felt like I knew peoples for months.” Said Drashawn. These individuals we whom a leaders, farmers, and educators throughout Connecticut. During the bus ride, Drashawn and I started to Connect with Nivina, who organized this whole trip, we realize she does similar work with us, and started to connect with and discussing ways we can help out as far as our program organization.
As we arrived onto the farm we were welcomed with open arms from Leah her son and the staff that worked on the farm, Leah asked us to choose anything thing on the farm that best describes us, we used those things in the welcome circle and explained what and why we choose what we picked. While in the welcome circle we played a little chair game with questions about our daily uses of things helping the world. We didn’t understand at first until Leah explained how certain things we use help plants grow or takes away from its growth. As the day went on we toured the 3 acers of the land she used as the farm. It was so much to offer, beautiful rows of different kinds of kale, broccoli, collard greens and other types of greens. Next row consist of beets, carrots and other vegetables in that nature. We saw different types of green houses. They had one for eggplant and peppers. They had one for tomatoes, all kinds big juicy green one all the way down to little red grape tomatoes. There were a moveable chicken coop to fertilize the grass. They also had metal wires around the chicken coop to outsmart the deer’s in the area, the metal wiring was there to stop the deer from jumping into the area holding the live chicken stock. After touring for about a hour we ran into Leah’s husband building a garage with visitor space on the second floor for guess to sleep. Next we picked fresh fruit and vegetables for lunch. We ate a very healthy and bright lunch (white rice, fried beans, shredded cheese, salad and wraps) while we chatted and became close friends. About an hour after lunch we planted a couple of rows of different vegetables (spinach and radishes) as we teamed up with the others from different garden programs. After planting the real fun begin after learning about different reasons why people were forced off their farms back in the early 1600s. It was more exciting to reenact it and make a play out of it. As we brought the plays to an end Leahs son showed us an exciting way to plant hard to reach areas with a method he called seed bombing. First you take a nice hand full of soil and damp it with water after the soil is damp you take a handful of clay and round it into a ball. After the ball is complete we slid our fingers into the center forcing seeds into it and rounding it back closed.
If I had to say what was an important part of the field trip to the Soul Fire Farm would be learning all about farm rights in the early 1600s. Just to hear about families being force off they land for the government to build different things like parking lots and buildings on their land had me willing to learn as much as possible. Later on some of these families was rewarded with some money and some was just grateful to get their ancestors property back. Another helpful experience was from Leah’s son, his seed bombing method lets you be a kid again as you plant hard to reach areas.
“One memorable moment about the trip has to be watching Leah husband build a garage alone while we visit his home. Speaking with him has taught me so much about carpentry.” – Drashawn Jones
“ a memorable moment from me, was that the family was also from Hartford or the Husband at least and he’s no living on the nice farm, with his family, and my dream is to live on with my love one, it was just inspiring and made me want succeed and live me goal” – Sonsharae Owens
August 5, 2015
East New York Farms! visit BK Farmyards Youth Farm
Reflection piece by: Josh Wilson
My recent trip to BK Farm yards on August 5th, 2015, located at [the Youth Farm], was worth the experience of a summer vacation. At the site, there were mostly young educated youth farmers, and a few farm educators, two being Charlexia and Sawdayah. Their information was useful and installed a lot of value that I can apply to my present position as a crew leader at East New York Farms . I participated in several farm fun fact activities, one called the nutrition/food chain and I took the role as a distributor and played different scenarios.This really stood out to me because our main focus was on understanding where our food comes from and how it affects us as consumers. However the nutrition/food chain and the different stakeholders made us aware how complex the process is in getting the food to our plates and what procedures and measures that people take in the food and handling industry. In addition, we discussed the advantages and disadvantages that face business investors and consumers, and its impact that many residents who live in close proximity to the different industries face.
My most memorable moment of the trip was picking plums off the tree because they were delicious and there was only a limited amount that we had access to. My second most memorable moment of the trip was also interacting with youth from different areas but we all shared one thing in common; agriculture. For the next farm trips and program visits, I’m looking forward to more exposure to different non-profit organizations and youth-led activities. This exposure to Bk Farmyards made me focus more on making the world greener and a better place.
July 30, 2015
Bushwick Campus Farm Summer Youth Interns (Ecostation:NY) visit the Red Hook Community Farm (Added Value)
reflection piece by: Marieangely Calasanz