Amid the concrete and asphalt that makes up the majority of Brooklyn's "landscape" sits Added Value Farm. Formerly an old asphalt playing field, Added Value is the creation of Ian Marvy and Michael Hurwitz who both previously worked in social services in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Disappointed with the growing number of children falling through the cracks of the social system, their talents squandered and confidence all but diminished, Marvy and Hurwitz strove to create a space for Brooklyn youth that could at once provide them with an educational, enjoyable and rewarding afterschool activity while simultaneously providing the community with much needed fresh and healthy produce. Working with over 150 local teens, from ages 14 - 19, since its inception, Added Value has built a lasting community of sustainable food and food justice advocates who take in just as much as they give.
The skills learned on the farm as well as the opportunities offered make Added Value very attractive to city-centric teenagers, offering them plenty of outdoor activities, growing their food from mere seedlings to bountiful crop, as well as providing a monthly stipend for working each week at the gardens, markets, and offices, a small reward for all their work to improve their community. Additionally, the kids at Added Value learn essential communication and occupational skills that go beyond the farm, helping them achieve their educational and professional goals and augmenting their prospects for the future.
Added Value also works with New York City schools through their Farm Based Learning initiative to provide kids with an important education about where food comes from, the biological cycles of plants, how to make healthy food choices and the social, economical and environmental impact of the food industry. By engaging in a public discourse as well as writing about their experiences, students improve their vocabulary and public speaking and observational skills while remaining active.
Together, the Added Value family has transformed vacant lots into community gardens, revived local parks and continues to supply a growing population with affordable and healthy food. But perhaps mostly importantly, Added Value doesn't just grow fresh, delicious food, they also grow and empower community leaders who will undoubtedly propel Added Value and other socially active food justice movements into the future.
To get more involved with either one of Added Value's farms (the team recently opened a second location on Governor's Island), visit their website and join Added Value in supporting local agriculture and local communities.
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