Archived Reflect Pieces

2016 Reflections

Youth were asked, ‘ Why are CRAFT Days important to you?’

“They are a good way to explore locations that are different food warriors work in NYC.”
“It helps us to create bonds with other organizations.”
“It is important because it shows how connected we are.”
“I get to see that they are other youths like me that’s doing the work.”
“It allow for me to learn new skills, obtain knowledge, and get to know people outside of you circle.”

November, 2016

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.

-Cristian Polanco

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.

-Darnell Maxwell

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

-Sarah Chen

October , 2016


 September, 2016

Friends Of The High Line


Cristian Polanco,

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,
Ideas Whirling,
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

Stephanie Calderon,

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                     IMG_3855

While we weeded fast
With dirt in our shoes and pants
The joy of winning drove us 
From weeding to composting 
We grabbed our shovels 
And picked up all the carbon
To add to the nitrogen 
Tiring and hard work 
But a memorable trip
Despite the harsh winds 
We were all winners that day
-Shahria Ahmed, Friends of the Highline
I had a very productive time at Red Hook during CRAFT Day. The day started off with the members from all groups introducing their names and playing a game with it. I found the game to be very entertaining, with everyone on their toes trying to not get called.
 The “Weeding Game” that occurred afterwards was also very fun, albeit dirty. There was dirt in my shoes, my eyes, my hair, but I didn’t notice it until the very end because everyone was so focused on winning that we had no time to concern ourselves with the dirt. Finally, we broke off into groups to work on individual projects; I was part of the group that was tasked with shoveling mulch and bringing it to the J-rows. My group had people from all of the different organizations, and as the day progressed we soon started talking and sharing with each other. It was nice finding other people with the same interests as you and having lengthy conversations about it with them. Overall, I had a lot of fun at Red Hook that day and I even made some new acquaintances.
-Stephanie Calderon, Friends of the Highline
Have you ever felt a lady bug tickle as he climbs up your finger?
Have you ever experienced the moist soil dig into your finger nail ?
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.
-Kelly Elugardo, Friends of the Highline

April 29, 2016

The Youth Food Justice Network visits Queens County Farm

IMG_20160429_120047859_HDRThe 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

Social Media Post

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!

IMG_0837 edit

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

20151218121633888 copy

August 18,2015

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.  

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 9.10.53 AM

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.

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 9.10.39 AM

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

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 12.19.46 PM

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

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 10.41.23 AM
reflection piece by: Charisse Sanchez