Growing from an initiative to provide jobs and work experience for Red Hook teens, the Red Hook Community Farm has become a thriving hub of sustainable gardening.
In 2002, upstate farmer Ben Balcom was visiting the Red Hook Farmer’s Market when he stumbled across an overgrown and polluted baseball field. With ample sunlight and a chain link fence for privacy, it appeared to him not as an abandoned lot but as a future garden. By 2003, with the help of Added Value, a non-profit youth organization focused on the sustainable development of Red Hook, the neglected baseball diamond was transformed into a farm where fruits, vegetables, and local teens have flourished.
The farm and its volunteers have been serving the community through its three main initiatives: growing a just food system, empowering youth, and providing a farm-based education. The just food system created by Added Value allows the urban community access to affordable and fresh produce while supporting Brooklyn’s teens by cycling profits back into the youth empowerment and farm-based learning programs.
Through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), the Red Hook Community Garden provides regionally grown, affordable produce to over seventy families each week. They also provide to six local restaurants, and the weekly Red Hook Farmer’s Market. The Red Hook and Governor’s Island community farms generate approximately $120,000 in local economic activity and raise $70,000 for youth stipends every year.