This Uptown Urban Farm Is Growing Career Opportunities for Kids Throughout the City | Edible Manhattan

By Sarah McColl

Photos by Corinne Singer

“We want to capture whatever spark the children have and try to nurture it, even if it’s well outside the realm of agriculture,” Vincent says.

Up the street from the Apollo Theater, a lot on West 134th Street was once home to prowling neighborhood cats, abandoned engine parts and men playing dominos. With the vision of founder Tony Hillery, the kids of Harlem Grown’s youth farm, a truckload of soil from Home Depot and 400 strawberry plants, the makeshift junkyard has been a blooming Eden since 2011. Now, an arbor casts a low ceiling of leafy shade and a sign warns with a wink that, “Trespassers will be composted.”

The mission of this urban youth farm has never been rootbound. While lessons in nutrition and agriculture happen over hydroponics, and conversations about economic, social and food justice unfold between the garden rows, Harlem Grown is also connecting schoolchildren with professional mentors, internships and career connections.

“We’re trying to use the farms and food as a vehicle to inspire change beyond the plate,” says development director Vanessa Vincent. “We’ve been able to connect our youth to opportunities beyond their wildest dreams.”

Read more: This Uptown Urban Farm Is Growing Career Opportunities for Kids Throughout the City | Edible Manhattan

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