Added Value is an urban farming enterprise that promotes sustainable development, conservation, health, wellness and community education through youth empowerment and food justice initiatives in the community of Red Hook, Brooklyn.
The neighborhood of Red Hook offers limited access to healthy and affordable foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables. With a median household income of $15,631 and more than half of Red Hook's families living below the poverty line, residents often opt to eat at lower-priced fast food restaurants or purchase their food at corner stores with limited produce and questionable meat and dairy selections. This inadequate access to healthy, safe and affordable food, as well as a limited understanding of proper dietary practices, has contributed to a neighborhood health crisis. Red Hook residents suffer disproportionately from asthma, hypertension, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. In a neighborhood once known for crime and drugs, the biggest killer today is the local environment.
For nine years, Added Value has sought to combat these health issues. In 2005, the organization converted 2.75 acres of abandoned, open space into a fully-functional urban farm and in 2007, Added Value established its own Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. These initiatives are still growing, however, and the capacity of Added Value has yet to meet the demands of the local neighborhood. Over the next year, Added Value intends to grow its CSA program by about 50% for a total of 75 shares, including approximately 25% low-income families and 10% work shares for local residents.
With the addition of a rototiller, Added Value will more efficiently cultivate the Governors Island farm, beginning in the spring of 2010. The rototiller will allow Added Value to more effectively use the land for the production of fresh, local produce that will be distributed to CSA members and sold at the organization's weekly farmer's market. The rototiller will also allow for a more timely expansion of the Governors Island farm, which will in turn increase the need for additional youth workers and volunteers to learn and work on the land. While the short-term effects of using a rototiller will include the faster preparation of land, expansion of the farm and increased production of fruits and vegetables, the long-term effects of a more efficient farm will emerge as Added Value expands its youth program, strengthens its educational initiatives and continues to serve as a model for community-based urban sustainability efforts.
why we're doing it
In 2009, Added Value expanded its urban farm space to include an additional three acres located on Governors Island. With this land, Added Value will: grow food from seed to sale, thereby significantly increasing CSA output; harvest food waste, grass clippings and wood chips to reduce the ecological footprint of the Island; utilize staff, program youth and volunteers in the management and cultivation of the land and food; and offer one-time field-trips to area schools as well as ongoing educational tours of the farm for the general public.
One of the primary goals for the first year of operation on Governors Island is to dramatically increase Added Value's CSA capacity through the growth of fresh, local produce, at least one quarter of which is intended for low-income residents within the community of Red Hook. Currently, all farm work on Governors Island is completed manually by a handful of staff, youth and volunteers. In order to support a more efficient operation of the site, Added Value is requesting donations to help purchase a Troy Bilt rototiller. The purchase of a rototiller will enable staff, youth and volunteers to more efficiently cultivate the designated land, expand bed preparation and land usage and maximize output to meet the growing demand for increased CSA shares. Furthermore, as the farm continues to increase production, Added Value will expand to support additional youth stipends and regular educational tours and workshops on both Governors Island and within the Red Hook community.
The Project Budget is as follows:
Lowe's Home Improvement:
1 Troy-Bilt 305cc Big Red Electric Start Tiller,
Price: $2,799 ,
ioby Processing fees: $420,
TOTAL BUDGET: $3219
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Stacey A K.