Con Edison grant supports S:US Urban Farms
Photo credit: S:US
S:US operates one of the largest urban agriculture initiatives in NYC. With more than 50 urban farms in the yards and on rooftops of our supported housing sites, the initiative employs many of the people we serve who have developmental disabilities and engages 500+ people at the highest risk for homelessness, unemployment, and untreated medical, psychiatric and substance use disorders. Participants gain employable skills, generate income, build self-esteem, and learn about and enjoy the nourishing benefits of eating fresh produce.
Our vocational training curriculum focuses on general and specialized horticulture, including soil health and composting, plant identification, tree/plant maintenance, turf management, pest control, plant propagation, and vegetable preservation through canning. Workshops teach hard and soft skills to prepare individuals for apprenticeships, community volunteerism, and employment opportunities.
Specialized horticultural methods, e.g. hydroponic growing and intensive permaculture planting practices, are essential components of the program. S:US Urban Farms is one of the few therapeutic horticulture services in the country to engage individuals with disabilities in beekeeping, and is one of only two programs in NYC teaching and practicing rice cultivation. Participants aren’t just watering, weeding, and harvesting. They construct greenhouses, cold frames, arbors, raised beds, and sheds; and install water features, patios, and rooftop gardens. They are at the design table and behind the power tools as contributors on the full range of projects.
Fresh produce harvested from S:US Urban Farms is distributed among residents of S:US supported housing sites free of charge, extending health and wellness benefits beyond those who work in the program. Also, ongoing garden-based health and nutrition workshops help participants gain skills and knowledge in food utilization, healthy cooking techniques, use and value of unfamiliar vegetables, and special dietary considerations.
The Con Edison funding will support program expenses, including wages paid to S:US program participants.
For information on how S:US is helping thousands of New Yorkers during the pandemic, please visit https://sus.org/sus-helps-thousands-of-new-yorkers-during-covid-19-crisis/.
Click here for information on S:US Urban Farms.
Click here for information on S:US Developmental Disabilities Services.