To respond to the needs of the garden and the KSG community. we have developed a variety of programs. The goals are immediate: see a condition and create a structure that serves
The core mission of the garden is to provide healthy food to local residents free of charge. Sharing healthy food with an impacted, vulnerable community is easier said than done. It requires an educational component. It is a process of informing the community by introducing new options. The most receptive to these options are often young people. It is not only about education, but about creating a space where the stressors of the community can be left at the door, and light cast on the healing components of food, culture, and the opportunity to improve mind and body.
Understanding this litany of needs has led us to initiate several programs that function as a foundation:
The Garden Ambassador Program
The Garden Ambassador Program (GAP) addresses the need for economic opportunity while fulfilling the needs of the garden. It is also meant to foster leadership skills. GAP participants are encouraged to manage projects with minimal supervision.
With GAP, we'll elevate our work by providing skill-building opportunities for unemployed/underemployed neighbors, award stipends to finally acknowledge the value they create, and grow more fresh produce. Ambassadors work 4 hours per week April - October alongside the Garden Manager to strengthen several aspects of garden management, from planting to measuring outcomes.
The Garden Educator Series
The Garden Educator Program invites community chefs, self-care practitioners and other educators to utilize our space and resources to further engage the community. In addition to our popular cooking demos led by professional chefs, a Qi Gong practitioner offered a class to our summer youth. Yoga instructors were on site regularly to give free classes. A professional horticulturist offered basic classes on botany, and spiritual herbalists taught classes on incorporating herbs in the treatment of common ailments. Many of these workshops utilized plants grown in the garden. Others engaged youth in planning and cooking their own meals based on what is available seasonally in the garden.
Moving forward, we hope to offer Tai Chi for people of all ages. From practical life skills, to mind and body development, the diversity of offerings should serve to address the needs of the broader community beyond the garden. Many young adults in our community simply need support in developing basic life skills that might come as second nature to those growing up in higher-income neighborhoods. Sharing these skills and offering encouragement empowers young people to gain the knowledge and confidence to take greater control of their own lives.
Our goal is to create a welcoming, healing green space that offers a sense of hope and purpose. Fully utilizing the space, both outdoors and indoors, will bring many positive and empowering tools to a community that has long been deprived of these kinds of resources. Developing long-term sources of funding for these programs ensures that our community members can flourish and grow, just like the garden around them.
Experience has shown that maintaining a space like this cannot be effectively sustained through volunteer labor alone. In our first season we observed that most volunteers only lasted about 6 months. People of all walks of life need income in order to be encouraged to stay committed. Through intensive networking over the first two seasons we established an extensive roster of partnerships that help to keep the garden a vibrant community resource.
Moving forward, KSG is building on this foundation by encouraging volunteers to take the lead on developing their
100% ORGANIC FREELY DISTRIBUTED TO THE COMMUNITY AND OPERATED BY LOCAL YOUTH
The Youth Farm Stand addresses the need to empower youth by supporting them in the promotion and design of the farm stand as well as handling community interaction. YFS participants receive a modest stipend based on minimum wage for 4 hours per week over a 6 - 8 week rotation. Residents are invited into the garden to receive a free share of the week’s harvest, as well as Health Bucks in $2 increments that can be used to purchase fruits and vegetables at any Greenmarket in the 5 boroughs.