Harvesting Healthy Communities with Harlem Grown

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Ciara Sidell

Harlem Grown, New York City

After a busy week conquering kitchens all across New York City, our campers will get a chance to find out exactly where their food comes from. We’ll be spending the day harvesting, tasting, and exploring an urban farm operated by Harlem Grown, a nonprofit organization on a mission to inspire youth to lead healthy lives. The culinary creativity of Sprouts campers plus the farming expertise of the Harlem Grown team will make for an extra memorable day of camp! Can you imagine a more dynamic (and delicious) duo? With programs that focus on mentorship, hands-on farming, and education in sustainability and nutrition, Harlem Grown is working hard to make the NYC community a greener place. Ciara Sidell, the Farm Manager and Educator at Harlem Grown, shared with us how her work on programs in mentorship, hands-on farming, nutrition, and sustainability are making the Harlem community a greener place.

The Inside Scoop

Can you describe the goal of Harlem Grown and the work you do to reach that goal?

Harlem Grown focuses on youth development through urban agriculture. We’re inspiring youth to lead healthy and ambitious lives, and that happens through promoting education opportunities in sustainability, nutrition, and cooking. Our goal is to increase access to these healthy eating opportunities.

Why is the work you do important to the community?

I ask kids what they notice on their walk up to the farm and often people comment on the number of fast food restaurants or the number of people hanging around on the street. In a three block radius there were about over fifty fast food restaurants and twenty-some odd pharmacies. We’re alleviating the negative realities of that environment. Harlem Grown provides an oasis in this part of the city to come and be exposed to healthy cooking and nutrition.

What do you find the most fascinating about working at Harlem Grown?

The most fascinating part of my job is the kids. It’s the sheer excitement that the kids have when they walk through the gates. It’s really fascinating every single day to see their smiles and their eyes light up and the excitement they have for touching worms and chickens.

After a long day of farming, what do you want to eat?

I’m known as “the hungry one” in the office; I always need to eat a lot. I think a nice big bowl of pasta with homemade tomato sauce from the tomatoes and herbs that we grow at Harlem Grown, and I would love to top it off with a nice fried egg from one of our chickens. We provide produce to the people in our community, but also to our staff and volunteers.

Is there anything else that you would like us to know about Harlem Grown?

We’re open to the public for people interested in coming to hang out and experience the farms for themselves. Saturdays, 11am – 3pm throughout the entire season, we’re here and we’re excited to meet new people.