Meet our Urban Famers
What did you think when you first heard about the farm?
Rhasheim: Great idea! Something different. I haven’t done farm work before so this was a good opportunity.
Jessi: I was both excited and skeptical. I was excited because this is something that is personally very important to me as well as central in my previous job at Cornell Cooperative Extension and my work with food justice. I was skeptical because I know how hard it is to find space and make an urban farm work.
Cheri: It was a great idea! I took some classes at SU that shared what an important issue the lack of access to healthy foods is in urban neighborhoods. So I wanted to be a part of the solution to this problem.
What are some of the things you most love about your job?
Rhasheim: I like being at the farm stand and speaking out to people, speaking to new people.
Jessi: I love being outside and communing with living things on a daily basis. I love being connected to my neighbors and my community because I live right next to the farm. I get to meet and be surrounded by incredible people on a daily basis. The farm draws out really positive relationships with so many people.
Cheri: I love meeting all the people who stops by to talk. Everyday, someone new stops by to visit. I like the people I work with. I love working outside and being apart of the land everyday.
What have you learned so far through farming?
Rhasheim: The whole process we have to go through! A lot is new to me. For example, fennel, I never even knew what that was.
Jessi: My head is full of things that I learn! Everyday I learn how to farm better and how to serve our community better. More specifically, I’ve learned how to use a tractor and a lot of things about different pests.
Cheri: I never farmed before so everything is new to me. I’ve learned about pests that damage our crops, about irrigation and how to delay drip lines and how to drive a tractor. I never realized how much food comes out of one acre. We have crops like beans for example, that everyday we can’t seem to pick enough of.
Share with us a challenge or two about working our farm in the city.
Rhasheim: People who don’t know about it – we have to reach out to them.
Jessi: There is the physical challenge of farming and then there is the big challenge of figuring out how to get food to people and how to feed people who are most in need of it. There is a literacy to this process. We need to better understand how people function and relate with food so that we can translate what we have in ways that are meaningful to them.
Cheri: The physical labor and the heat!
Has anything happened to you or others on the farm that has surprised you?
Rhasheim: How much a challenge it is to keep the deer out and how even smaller animals and critters and insects come around.
Jessi: The number of people who just want to be involved in our farm because they see us existing. I am also surprised that squirrels are as damaging to the crops as deer.
Cheri: The challenge of getting people to access the food! The amount of work for Jessi and others to get a use variance for the farm was a new experience for me. Urban agriculture is so new that no one seemed to know what to do, how to help us get started and to give us the answers we needed.
What’s your dream for our community through the farm?
Rhasheim: Help everyone learn something new. There are a lot of things in a farm that people don’t eat because they don’t know how to cook it or they had it once and they didn’t like it. I want to have lots of potlucks so that people can try different foods that are cooked in a lot of different ways.
Jessi: My dream is that people see our potential, that they see the work of restoring a site to grow crops and feed people as a vital part to our whole well being. In seeing the value of this, people would want to engage in it because it’s too precious not to have it.
Cheri: More and more people to be able to utilize the farm and what it has to offer the community. I want to see our five year plan realized and for the farm to reach its full potential.
In your own words!
Rhasheim: For me the farm is a place that you can have a good mindset. It’s a place of good energy, good air, good land, good food.
Jessi: I love my job!
Cheri: Seeing the farm go from seedlings to what it is now is an amazing transformation.