The NYC Kids to Farms program plans to bring high school students from New York City to the Goshen/Pine Island area in Orange County, NY, about two hours outside the city, for five weeks during their summer break to work as farm laborers, receive education about farming, and hands-on experience in preparing whole foods and stocking a kitchen for a relatively large number of people.
After the summer program ends, it is our hope that kids will open an extracurricular café in their school that will serve whole-food meals, and that they will be a strong impetus for incorporating local farmers' produce into both kid-prepared and staff-prepared meals. If funds allow, we would also like to start an outdoor garden and/or greenhouse farming project close to the kids' school.
Currently, the 2010 pilot program is targeted for eight students from NYC public high schools. The students will live in a rented five or six-bedroom house during their stay in Orange County. A typical morning for the kids will consist of them preparing their own cooked lunches in the house kitchen and then checking on their "hobby plants". After breakfast, the kids will receive a short lecture and then depart to their farm labor assignment, which will begin around 11 a.m.
Labor tasks, dispatched by a Farm to School staff member based on farmers' needs, could include planting, weeding, harvesting, bunching or packing vegetables in bags. Kids will labor on a farm until about 2:30 p.m. They will take a lunch break to eat their individually-prepared rice cooker meals.
At around 3 p.m., students will arrive at a designated "harvest check" farm to perform educational duties. These will include making a list of what produce is ready to be harvested and how many; noting any bugs, mildew or powder on plants; determining and what produce is necessary for the home pantry, harvesting or picking up the necessary produce and then paying for it.
In the early evenings, students can swim in nearby lakes, bike or hike before going home to relax, eat dinner and to experiment making sauces for the next day's lunch.
On some days, kids will tour animal facilities such as dairy and cattle farms and an exotic animal sanctuary. Other educational day or half-day tours may include a wheatgrass-growing facility, a bread-and-cheese making facility, an ice-cream making facility and a meat-smoking activity.
After the NYC Kids to Farms summer program is over, staff members will work with students to help them set up an extracurricular student-run café which will serve whole food meals to students and staff during the school year.
Earth to City is currently seeking funds for the NYC Kids to Farms program from a granting agency of the US Department of Agriculture, as well as other sources. We estimate that the summer pilot + school year café and greenhouse/outdoor garden will cost around $41,000.
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