US (NY): Securing $9.6 million in funds to start food hub

Citing food inequity among the borough’s minority population, a local nonprofit has opened an urban farm in Ocean Hill to provide healthy food to the local community, which suffers from high rates of diseases resulting from poor diet.

The 5,000-square-foot harvesting lot at 1420 Eastern Parkway, dubbed “The Eastern Parkway Farm,” marks The Campaign Against Hunger’s second urban farm in Brooklyn, and sits on its namesake parkway between Pitkin and Howard avenues.

The Campaign Against Hunger (TCAH) also has a farm in Bedford Stuyvesant, the Saratoga Urban Agro-Ecological Center, which opened in 2009, along with several other food-based initiatives around the city — like another farm in Queens, a food pantry in Bed Stuy, a food distribution center at a Canarsie soundstage donated by the production company Broadway Stages during the pandemic, and a mobile farmer’s market called “Fresh Vibes” that travels across the city in a specially designed truck carrying fresh produce.

“People thought I had lost my mind,” said Melony Samuels, CEO, and founder of TCAH, at the opening ceremony for Eastern Parkway Farm on Thursday. “They had said it’s not possible that individuals would want to barter or get rid of the canned food and the sweets and the sugar and the salt and everything else. And that’s what birthed the idea of farming, and we were the first organization to have from farm to table.”

Unlike a community garden, which can be found all over the city (including the Brownsville Green Community Garden right next door) and usually involves a membership structure for individual plots, the farm will be owned and operated by TCAH, which will sell the produce directly to customers at inexpensive prices, which Samuels said can remain low because of the nonprofit’s reliance on philanthropy.

The group plans to hire locally, and to train neighborhood teens on agricultural practices as part of a 10-month workforce program. Beyond its status as a working farm, Samuels also wants Eastern Parkway Farm to be a space for local students to learn about environmental science. The farm will be open every day from 9 to 2, and experienced farmers will assist patrons in harvesting.

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