Women We Admire: Stacey Murphy, Founder of BK Farmyards

Interview With Stacey Murphy, founder of BK Farmyards By Julia Burgi

Most people take the gustatory pleasures of food for granted - we all know that what we eat can be delicious. Some people are also concerned about the impact of their food on the environment, on other people, on animals.

Where one's food comes from - especially produce and animal products - has become a mainstream issue. Both how it is farmed and how far it travels to reach our kitchens are important things to think about, especially in urban centers. Stacey Murphy founded BK Farmyards in response to these issues. BK Farmyards brings delicious, fresh produce and eggs to New Yorkers.

Stacey and the BK Farmyards crew seek to reconnect consumers with their food by helping people participate in its production. Where might such land exist in such a dense city? Right in people's backyards! Essentially, BK Farmyards takes underutilized, open land and turns it into farmland, including land belonging to developers, organizations, and homeowners with backyards.

The produce harvested is distributed to the landowners as well as members of the BK Farmyards CSA. But they go further than just providing the food - BK Farmyards helps organize community meals to use food as a way of bringing people together. Through their produce, Stacey and BK Farmyards employees and members seek to provide "local jobs, local economic growth, and a sense of stewardship and pride in the community."

BK Farmyards has also been working with the High School for Public Service in Brooklyn, a public school that provides students with the academic and social skills necessary to become the "Heroes of Tomorrow". With BK Farmyards, the school has created a farm run by students that has been integrated into the curriculum as well as the community through a CSA.

Stacey has taken on this amazing venture after getting an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering, a Masters in Architecture, as well as years of gardening and teaching experience. One of the most amazing parts about Stacey's farm work is that she aims to bring fresh produce to lower-income communities in an affordable way. While there are certainly many sustainable food programs out there, they are often a luxury of the wealthy who can make the choice to spend more money on ethically produced food. Stacey is working to make sure produce with a great background reaches everyone.

I asked Stacey about the best parts of being part of BK Farmyards:

Julia Burgi: What is your favorite thing that you harvest at BK Farmyards? How do you like to prepare it?

Stacey Murphy: Lacinato Kale (some call it dinosaur kale): I think the leaves are sweeter and more tender than other varieties. I love preparing our teens' raw kale salad recipe which has a delicious honey, lemon, peanut butter dressing.

JB: What is your favorite part of working with BK Farmyards? Are you into digging in the dirt or is it the people you meet or something else?

SM: My favorite part is that you never know what is going to happen on the farm: every day is different, and the number of people I interact with has broadened my understanding of cultures around the world. Farmers Market days during the summer are extremely rewarding when we are selling gorgeous produce, talking with the community, and teens are doing cooking demonstrations.

JB: What has it been like to watch BK Farmyards grow so successfully over the past few years?

SM: Some days I look around and I am humbled by all the people who are dedicated to the work we do and by all the people whose lives have been altered. We could never have grown this much so quickly without a lot of support from the community. We also have so much yet to do! There are still a lot of people who lack access to fresh and affordable produce.