The farm that I was working on is currently out of season, so I’m not necessarily working there as often as I used to. I do work another full time 9-5 in a social services organization where I work with people and any housing crises they might have.
I was working on an urban farm located at a museum in Brooklyn.
I was working on the grounds of the museum as a farmer and I was helping to manage the farm stand, helping manage the teens who applied to our garden apprenticeship program.
I ran little workshops for the teens and any other regulars who came to our farm and were interested in basic agriculture and urban agriculture.
The farm is a non-profit, the non -profit that is in charge of the museum.
We are on a New York City public park, and on the grounds of the park we have about an acre and a half of farm land.
We mainly focus on vegetables for the most part, vegetables that are wanted and common throughout the demographic of the community.
The area where the farm is located is mainly a West Indian community, Caribbean countries, and we tried to grow culturally relevant crops.
I’ve been farming since 2016, so I guess it makes 5 years now.
I started off as an intern.
My main farming experience comes from urban ag. I’ve been working on community gardens and community based farms.
It’s really the only type of farming you can do in New York City.
I had just applied for an internship when I was straight out of high school with a woman who I’ve known for many years.
I had no idea what I was really getting into – it ended up being farming, which was cool.
I never really considered going too far into it until I started learning about things like food justice and food sovereignty – more so the social impact that urban farming can bring. That is really what pushed me to knowing more farmers and seeking more opportunities in the city.
I was attending farm conferences primarily for black farmers and farmers of color and I made a bunch of connections. I’ve been working in this area for a while now.
One thing that I really wish as a farmer in New York City is that it can be steady and stable work, but because we have a hard winter most of the time, there is not much farm work to do once you’ve covered all the beds and planted your garlic and onion for the winter. That has kind of been my cycle where I work in between.
This past year was my first non-farming full time job, so I was working at both my full time job and at the farm.
I’m subscribed to a couple of newsletters that send out job blasts because I know jobs aren’t always stable.
I just would like to see it as a more common profession. I wish 1 in 4 people could be a farmer.
I want to eventually start a little community garden of my own and ultimately run these programs, hiring teens and just doing equitable work in these communities where I plan on farming. I don’t want to totally own it, I would like to be a collective where the responsibility is shared among many people who are as experienced or even more experienced than me.
I don’t necessarily have a choice here in New York City than to farm for other people.
The only other way I’ve found where people can work on their own is to either move to upstate New York or completely out of the state.
I don’t have the means to do that nor do I want to do that.
I enjoy my life here in New York.
It would require me to do a lot of sacrifice that I’m not prepared for.
I would say that particularly for me, I’m not sure if this is a shared experience, but there are a lot of issues that arise when you are a farmer of color and oftentimes the people who have the resources to have farms are people who are more well off and aren’t people of color.
The field can get a little bit exclusive, and I can feel excluded sometimes.
Currently I was working at this museum farm and most of the staff there is white folks and the main POC are the farmers, which is great, but until this year I was the only Black woman who was working on the farm.
I felt a little out of place.
Working on a farm that you don’t own, you don’t know the history of the land you were own.
Often I feel conflicted because the land the farm stand is on has a deep history of colonialism.
The house belonged to the Dutch at one point. They displaced a lot of the Native Peoples who were here.
I have to come to terms with that.
The history of the land is something that has been an issue. The owners of the land that I work on also had a brief but present history with owning enslaved people.
It’s a bit of a conflicting history because I have this love and passion for farming, but I also have this generational trauma with it.
I was talking to the first supervisor at my internship about what was going on – she told me that ultimately I had the decision to leave to pursue a career in farming that only included people of color, though that is something I was leaning toward.
I did have appropriate support from my co-farmers where we had these conversations and I felt like: I can’t just leave if I feel uncomfortable.
I should at least advocate for myself.
The conversation was brought up and my team has taken the necessary steps to address what was going on. We do have descendants from the owners of the house who are very entitled and white. They come and view our posts and think that we are too liberal, but we really don’t care.
What keeps me grounded is serving the direct community.
The work we do is not for my team, it’s for the people to come and learn.
I can make the farm a personal place because I can invite the people I know so they can come and learn.
Utilizing the space for your own needs and your own people’s needs are essential.
I do have the responsibility of creating a curriculum for the students on the farm. We, not just the people on the farm but also the administrative staff, work towards sharing this history and actually documenting these histories.
I try to incorporate land acknowledgments in everything that I do and enact food justice in our programing, which is why I push so hard for growing these crops that are culturally relevant for this community because these would be the crops that were growing for the people who were formerly enslaved.
I try to take baby steps here and there.
I definitely want to be surrounded with more people like myself. Oftentimes farmers are not represented as women when in reality as you can see in different cultures, women do most of the farming. I would like to see more – that would be a really good quality to stay in the field.
I know there are a lot of opportunities like grants and resources, but urban farmers aren’t often accounted for. It’s more for larger scale farms when it comes to grants and resources.
I would like to see a lot of more urban farms in a lot more neighborhoods that really really need it.
Definitely the people and the events that we have and the crowds that we bring out keeps me coming back to farming.
The farmland is used for many events: we do tours, workshops and it’s always POC who come out who are interested in what we do. And it’s always the children that keep me coming back because it’s really amazing to see how hands on they are with everything.
I like serving the community.
I like having people coming to the farm and go ‘Oh my god, you guys grow scotch bonnets here! I haven’t seen those since I was back home!’ It’s a really good feeling.
It’s always a learning opportunity.
There is always going to be a learning curve on my end because I’m not West Indian, but a lot of my extended family are and it’s very good to learn about it.
I call myself a farmer.
It’s on my resume.
I never struggled with the term.
The position I was hired for was ‘assistant gardener’ when I was an entry level farmer. I brought it up – we work on an urban farm, we should be called farmers. So they changed the title.
The only issue is that people go ‘Oh farm? Do you raise cows?’ But there are clear differences.
My team does a good job – we don’t really distinguish between farmers and farm workers.
I personally feel that if you’re putting your blood sweat and tears, you are a farmer period.
Even though we have garden apprentices, we call them teen farmers because they do just as much work as we do.
It’s not fair to separate them.