Introducing Red Hook Farms

Brooklyn’s largest urban farm, located in Red Hook, Brooklyn, is now a project of Red Hook Initiative. For the last sixteen years, Added Value has operated two farms in Red Hook, grown hundreds of tons of organic produce and provided a homegrown classroom to educate thousands of youth. Red Hook Farms is vital to our bounty of community resources.

Why is RHI expanding to include urban farming? RHI is bringing farming into our portfolio to hone a model for urban gardening, youth empowerment and sustainable, community-led food production. 

Moving forward as Red Hook Farms, we will:

  • Offer meaningful jobs for Red Hook youth;
  • Create leadership and educational opportunities;
  • Provide a safe space to gather, learn, and grow; and
  • Increase access to locally grown organic produce.

Homegrown Resilience

Sunday marks the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. Red Hook residents lived with no heat, power or running water for weeks in the storm’s aftermath. In response to the devastation, Red Hook Initiative (RHI) opened its doors 14 hours a day for 24 consecutive days. Community members walked across the street to RHI and transformed from storm victims to storm responders. They were first on the scene and knew what their neighbors needed better than anyone.

Five years later, Red Hook is a stronger and more resilient community. Using the lessons learned in Hurricane Sandy’s wake, RHI launched Local Leaders, a training program designed for public housing residents to learn about emergency preparedness and community organizing. The program, facilitated by Local Leader graduates in English and Spanish, has trained over 200 Red Hook public housing residents. In the last five years, Local Leaders have highlighted the impact of mold in public housing, fought proposed budget cuts to NYCHA, and advocated for Red Hook at the community and city-wide levels.

“We’re ready if there’s another hurricane. This program has united the community and made us more aware of what to do to help ourselves, our families and our neighbors,” says Yolanda Diaz, a Local Leader and Red Hook resident. Today, we are proud to introduce you to the heroic residents preparing for future challenges.

Do you remember your first summer job? Perhaps it was the initial step that led to your current profession. Maybe it taught you what you did not want to do for a career! For most of us, in one way or another, the experience played a significant role in our evolution toward maturity and independence.

For Red Hook Initiative (RHI) youth, summer employment opportunities are critical. Noemi is an RHI College Scholar, and for over ten years, RHI has supported her academic, professional, and personal goals. As a rising junior at the University of Albany, Noemi’s major is Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. “I am passionate about criminal justice reform within New York City and about addressing police and community relations on both a local and national scale,” Noemi asserted. This summer, driven by her studies, Noemi will pursue an internship in the Criminal Justice field as a Legal Intern at the office of Public Advocate for the City of New York. Noemi’s placement this summer will not only allow her to start school in the fall with newly acquired skills in her major, but will also allow her to pay for much-needed living and educational expenses.

Of the 120 Red Hook youth we plan to place in jobs this summer, some will be under our own roof conducting research on violence in Red Hook, building and maintaining our free WIFI network or educating their peers. Others will be working in the broader Brooklyn community developing tech skills with a private company, learning through an internship at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, or working with a Red Hook business. 

This summer RHI is committed to ensuring that Red Hook youth have such an opportunity. Will you help us reach this goal? Your support will ensure that Noemi and over one hundred of her peers have an exciting, enriching, and meaningful summer learning opportunity while being able to earn their own income.

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