I received an email regarding what happens to be a most amazing and educational program for youth, combining sustainable food practices with community outreach and a foundation for leading characters.
The program and the garden at the school need funding to continue providing an amazing schedule with trips to farms and hands-on experience with maintaining food products. A list of achievements integrates education with local business support and distribution.
This email comes to you in thanks and in hope. For three years I have run a gardening program and taught the “Food, Land, and YOU” class at Automotive HS. This program strives to “seed knowledge and grow futures” through the following:
Exposing students to the complex social, political, and economic issues that surround the act of eating through high level reading, writing, debates, films, and field trips.
Giving students hands-on experience to make learning concrete – in the garden, with cooking projects, trips to farms, and more.
Offering real world experience that integrate learning and community action – Greenmarket events, market sales, food donations, and collaboration with restaurants.
With your help, both the class and the garden have thrived and the impact on the community and on students is palpable.
Below is a list of our current activities, pictures of what some of you have helped us achieve, and a request for continued (or new) financial support.
Accomplishments and activities:
Diner Journal (the publication of the wildly successful Diner restaurant) published an article about us.
The Huffington Post featured an article about our garden and the program’s impact on one student:
We’ve secured steady funding to support the garden and cooking projects through Slow Food NYC. We are now a “Harvest Time” School.
We took our first overnight farm trip to Hawthorne Valley Farm last spring as part of a new pilot project at the farm. Students made bread, cheese and butter from scratch and performed all farm chores (including working with livestock). The successful event resulted in a partnership. We’ll return to Hawthorne this Friday. See pics here.
We’ve been invited to be a part of “Taste of Greenmarket” – a huge fundraiser for NYC’s Council on the Environment (CENYC). Attendees include notable chefs Tom Colicchio, Peter Hoffman, and Dan Barber. This is a great opportunity for students to learn about the local food movement and share their learning experiences. We’ll serve tea from the garden.
Egg Restaurant in Williamsburg (critically acclaimed Brooklyn hot spot) will host a fundraising dinner for us on Nov. 2. Students will help to cook and serve the meal (learning valuable skills) and produce from the garden will be featured. More info and sign up here.
Miranda Restaurant, also in Williamsburg, has purchased our basil and featured it on their outstanding menu.
In Nov. and Dec. students will cook and serve lunch at the Bowery Mission, including donated produce from the garden.
We are hosting the Greenpoint YMCA pre-school students to the garden. Auto students will act in a leadership roll and work one-on-one with younger children in the garden.
On Oct. 16th and Oct. 30th, we will be at the Union Square Greenmarket, cooking and handing out samples. Students are responsible for running this whole operation and educating consumers. Stop by if you can! Pics of past demos here.
We have raised over $325 from produce sales at our farm stand.
This program has an undeniable impact on my students and the way they see the world.
Food insecurity and a lack of food justice are real issues. Everyone deserves access to and knowledge about good, real, healthy food.
Most of my students come from food deserts. There is little opportunity for them to buy, grow, or cook “good” food.
My students are 100% students of color and 84% low-income. They do not have many opportunities afforded to teens of different backgrounds. Without your help, our farm trips would not be possible.
Their problems are real. A trip to the farm gives students a safe, fun respite from the city, however brief, and exposes them to a different way of life and a new way of thinking while also putting the themes we have discussed into a real world context.
While Slow Food NYC provides steady funding for the garden, it has proved extremely difficult to find funding for our farm trips. We still depend almost solely on individual donations to make these experiences possible for students.
Total costs for each student to visit a farm this school year are about $6,000. This includes two overnight trips (fall and spring) and two day trips (fall and spring), each for a differnent group of students.
One overnight farm trip costs about $2400 for 20 students. That averages out to $120/student.
Our fundraising efforts are in full swing, but after student contributions, produce sales, and the Egg dinner, we still have to raise approximately $4,000 to cover this year’s trips.
No contribution is too big or too small!!!! Every dollar helps!
We also welcome material donations, guest speakers, field trip hosts, etc. If you’d like to be involved in some way other than financial, please write with your ideas.
How to contribute:
Mail tax-deductable donations here:
ATTN: Jenny Kessler
Automotive High School
50 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11222
Checks can be made out to “Automotive High School”. PLEASE WRITE “Auto Garden” in the memo line.
If you would like a tax receipt, be sure to include a return address.