Spring is here, and for many gardeners that means prepping and planting seeds.
My husband and I have been growing in containers the last few seasons in a shared backyard and I think the tomatoes and cucumbers we grow are always the best things I ever tasted.
Our newest family addition is now sharing in the planting and growing process. I think it’s so important to let my child spend as much time as possible outside, interacting with her natural environment, even if that usually means getting her hands dirty playing with soil and picking vegetables.
That is why I was glad to hear about a group of Bed Stuy residents who started a farmbox program to help bring portable farms to the general public, especially in schools where children are sometimes far removed from their food source.
Schools, as well as local community organizations can benefit from these farmboxes thanks to Adopt-A-Farmbox.
By partnering with this non-profit group, they can help provide a small farmbox made from all recycled wood materials, as well as the soil, donated seeds, set-up-support to get the portable farm started, workshops and much more.
This past fall, they partnered with the Brownstone School to help them set up a farmbox, and they have also been working with other schools and organizations throughout the city.
Husband-and-wife team and Bed-Stuy residents Aki Baker and Ronald Baker -- a design builder -- and their friend Yemi Amu -- a healthy behavior educator -- together created this program back in May of 2010 and raised funds through Kickstarter.com for initial projects.
They are powered by a group of volunteers who share their mission of promoting urban agriculture and nutrition.
“We always have been passionate eaters and cooks," said Aki Baker. “As parents of a public school student, we realized how children eat most of the time and thought it was alarming. We were concerned not just about the nutritional intake but with the culture of food and tradition of eating diminishing.”
Baker and her partners wanted to help children "find ways to connect with vegetables in a personal way.” So they started this initiative to not only bring the farm and its ideas to the kids, but also bring them up in a culture that offers them the opportunity to rekindle their food heritage.
“I wanted to do something to level the playing field by getting more people to understand the goodness of eating good-- not just about the health, but about everything else that comes with eating good food together,” she said.
The services they provide to partnering organizations, according to their website, include:
- Design and construction of 100% recycled customized farmboxes
- The farmbox is assembled with no tools to greatly reduce the possibility of injuries, so children can participate in the process from the beginning.
- Organic soil and seeds
- Consultant services by an organic farmer throughout the growing season
- Onsite project co-coordinator to assist throughout the growing season
- Guidelines for schools to help teachers incorporate the farming projects into their classroom curriculum
- Nutrition/health and cooking workshops
Schools and community organizations interested in starting a farmbox must be committed to keep the box for at least 5 years. The program works as a “collaborative effort,” and there is also help for applying for grants for a farmbox.
Anyone can purchase farmboxes. If two farmboxes are sold at the retail price, they will donate one farmbox to local school. Now that seems like a deal if it means instilling an enduring relationship of children and growing their food.