The mission of Freedom Farm has been unlike any other that I have had the privilege of being involved with. Growing food to give to others....it's that simple. They inspire me to live a life more worthy. I am impressed by their dedication to their mission, their true and heartfelt caring, and most of all: their love for people!
My friends and I went up to Freedom Farm at the recommendation of a mutual friend familiar with the farm and the owners, Edgar and Ann. It was so inspiring to see people of faith working the land and educating others about growing food and seeking food justice. Ann and Edgar started Freedom Farm to provide a space for youth from the Bronx to visit and learn about growing food sustainably - doing their part to fill a critical need in helping people learn where food comes from. Freedom Farm seems like a tremendous blessing to anyone who has the chance to visit.
Freedom Farm is an innovative community that links inner city youth with life-changing experiences of organic farming and nonviolence. Steeped in the best of Christian traditions and influenced by the Freedom Schools of the Civil Rights Movement, Freedom Farm has created huge impact on the lives of young people it has touched through its retreat programs.
Adequately translating the experience of Freedom Farm into words leaves me feeling slightly inadequate. If you're a person of faith and have a personal relationship with God, I imagine you spend time praying, talking, asking, thanking, etc. Regardless of how close my own relationship is, there's times when I feel that God's plate is so full, how could he possibly listen to me directly. From the bottom of my heart, I can adequately say that you FEEL God at Freedom Farm...everywhere. The presence is impossible to ignore. You feel it within and around, and all you want to do is live in His light. It's infectious and contagious, and regardless of where you came to the farm from you leave changed. It's not only the mission of the program for its visitors to carry and share that spirit back to each of our communities, it's the reality. To truly hear and feel what I'm saying, you have experience it for yourself. And you'll be thankful you did.
Freedom Farm is the real thing. The founders are just about the most generous people I have ever met. All are welcome, and there is always a place at the table, which is always brimming with organic produce for those who usually can't afford it. It is from this generous place that the founders welcome youth from New York City to get their hands dirty and also practice nonviolent conflict resolution. Racism is dismantled in the hearts and minds of people young and old, and the folks who live in upstate New York pitch in to help out on the farm, and build a bridge with those in the city. The program operates with a very small administrative cost, most every cent donated goes toward programs for youth and providing organic produce for those who can't afford it. Spend a weekend there, you will become a lifelong donor because you will believe in the mission and see that they use every cent wisely.
I had the privilege of visiting Freedom Farm this past summer with about 25 young people of color from Brooklyn, NY. For the majority of the group, none had ever experienced farming or knew where their food came from. When we first arrived, the amazing staff at Freedom Farm welcomed us with open arms and fresh fruit that was grown on the farm. Shortly, after are discussion had begun I immediately noticed the words from the staff at Freedom Farm were resonating with the young folks and they were automatically becoming inspired and motivated. During the visit at the farm the young people began to question food security, access, affordability, and freshness. The trip up to the farm was amazing and we hope that we can continue taking up new cohorts every year. We wish the best for the folks at Freedom Farm.
I work at UPROSE as the Youth Organizing Coordinator. This past summer, at our annual At the Table Leadership Institute, as part of our food justice learning, we visited Freedom Farm as a day trip. We were warmly invited by Edgar Hayes and his family to learn more about growing food, composting, and nurturing not only our bodies but spirits as well. The day was led with love and compassion by Edgar and his family. For some of the youth, it was the first time they've touched the dirt their food grew from. It was definitely an experience that I hope UPROSE youth can continue to visit yearly during their political and social justice training. In our 2nd Annual NYC Climate Justice Youth Summit, which had over 200 participants, Freedom Farm graciously donated delicious vegetables which we gave away to those who were in need or simply wanted to try something new. Freedom Farm deserves to be supported because they are such an important community-based group founded on liberation theology.