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Large-Scale NYCHA Urban Farm Launches in Red Hook

 Officials gathered to launch the urban farm at 6 Wolcott St., in Red Hook.
NYCHA Launches First Large-Scale Urban Farm on NYCHA Property
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RED HOOK — A new local urban farm will bring educational programs and jobs to the neighborhood’s youth, officials announced, Tuesday.

The Red Hook West Urban Farm, located at 6 Wolcott St., the first of its kind on NYCHA property, growing and distributing greens, while educating locals on healthy diets, according to officials.

The one-acre farm, found beside the Red Hook Senior Citizens’ home and the Red Hook Houses, will teach students about farming and agriculture, as well as providing a “green jobs training program” for out of school and unemployed NYCHA youth.

So far, the program has recruited 34 residents of the public houses for the six-month program organized by Green City Force, a nonprofit organization that provides training and work experience to urban young adults.

“We’re using agriculture as a platform for education young men and women,” said said Ian Marvy, co-founder and executive director of Added Value, a non-profit organization promoting sustainable development in Red Hook through youth-based initiatives.

The farm will donate and also sell produce at a famers’ market, operated by Added Value, which will fund stipends for members of Green City Force who will look after the farm, officials said.

Through a six-week program called “Seed to Salad,” elementary school students can learn about the basic principles of biology while learning to grow and create a salad, Marvy said.

The farm, which will serve as a model for five other urban agriculture sites around the city, opened this week by NYCHA Chairman John Rhea and Linda Gibbs, deputy mayor for heath and human services, among others.

The new site is one of 26 initiatives of Mayor Bloomberg’s Obesity Task Force, which providing funding for the project, according to the press release.

“It brings jobs and work experience to young people in the development,” said Gibbs.

When Selina Gonzalez, 19, first joined the Added Value’s youth empowerment program, she wasn’t a big fan of vegetables, she said.

Five years later, Gonzalez is “a senior youth leader,” helping her peers learn about gardening, healthy eating habits and eating straight from the ground, she said.

While Hurricane Sandy destroyed the group’s other Red Hook farm, where Gonzalez was first involved with the program, it is in the process of being rebuilt, she said.

“I wanted to do something in the neighborhood,” she said.