Written by Calisa Grant, a senior at Thomas Jefferson Campus high school in Brooklyn, New York, and a two-time ACE trained student leader.
At Thomas Jefferson Campus high school in Brooklyn, New York, a few students (myself included) from two of the four schools at the campus have participated in the creation of the Thomas Jefferson Campus Garden. The idea of creating a garden came about from a summer program that was launched by Slow Food NYC Neighborhood Farm. In the summer of 2010, Slow Food NYC Neighborhood Farm created three gardens in Brooklyn. At these gardens, day camps were held – kids were taught how to plant, maintain a garden, and how to cook nutritional food from the produce they planted. A few students and alumni from Thomas Jefferson Campus high school got internships as assistant counselors at the three gardens.
As the school year started in September 2010, Brownsville Multi-Service (BMS), a partner of Slow Food NYC Neighborhood Farm, decided they wanted to do something similar with our school. The director of School Based Health Center (SBHC) at our school who works with BMS started a Wellness Committee at my high school with the students who did the Slow Food garden internship in the summer. The Wellness Committee was formed to promote a healthy lifestyle, and from there, the idea of creating a garden on our campus started.
On Pennsylvania and Blake Avenue in Brooklyn, New York, there is an empty space that is attached to my school. That space used to be a garden that was run by a lady name Mrs. Eileen Peters, but after she left, that space became a home for weeds and trash. But we wanted this to change.
The students in the Wellness Committee, along with the help of a local farmer and a handful of other interested staff and students have worked together to make this space a garden again! The purpose of creating the Thomas Jefferson Campus Garden is to bring fresh, organic vegetables, fruits and herbs into the East New York community. East New York is a community with a high percentage of obesity and diabetes. There is not a sufficient amount of gardens or supermarkets in this community. It is mostly composed of bodegas and fast food restaurants, so the TJC Garden will help change the lives of many in this community. We hope to open a farmers market in the summer of 2011 and sell the produce to the community of an affordable price.