Senator Gillibrand helps kick off urban youth farm project

On July 8, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan helped kick off the summer youth employment component of the Community Improvement Through Youth (CITY) Project in Broome County.

At a press conference held at the urban farm site, Gillibrand and Ryan explained that Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds are helping employ at-risk young people in green jobs, including work on community gardens, recycling, composting, environmentally friendly construction and neighborhood clean-ups.

Using CDBG funds, the City of Binghamton razed several dilapidated buildings, cleared nearly an acre of land for an urban farm and leased it to the Volunteers Improving Neighborhood Environments (VINES) and the Binghamton Urban Farm Project. Working with these two groups, the CITY Project, directed by Cornell Cooperative Extension Broome County, is creating an agricultural resource for Binghamton's low-income communities.

"The partnership between the CITY's summer youth employment program and the City of Binghamton is a model for how a community can come together to create jobs for our children while taking aggressive action to combat child obesity," said Gillibrand. "By improving access to fresh produce to communities in Binghamton, we can give people the opportunity to live longer, healthier lives, save billions in health care costs and create good-paying jobs."

This summer, the CITY teen leaders are learning how to use such energy-efficient growing technologies in the urban garden as hoop houses, recycling, greenhouses and organic composting systems. They are also applying what they learned through their recent participation in 4-H Career Explorations and a new statewide project, Youth Grow: Become a Leader in the Local Food Movement. Youth Grow is a Cornell garden-based learning project directed by Marcia Eames-Sheavly, Department of Horticulture at Cornell.

The harvest from the urban farm will be used to fill community-supported agriculture orders and provide fruits and vegetables to families in the surrounding neighborhood and to the food bank Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse. By helping educate children, youth and families in the neighboring community about ways to use fresh produce, the CITY teen leaders will focus on ways to combat childhood obesity and promote healthy lifestyles. They will gain practical job and entrepreneurial skills by selling produce throughout the summer at the Binghamton Farmers Market.

The CITY Project is funded by the Children, Youth and Families At Risk Program, and is supported by Smith Lever funds from National 4-H Headquarters, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture and supported by such community partners and collaborators as Binghamton University Liberty Partnership Program; OASIS After School Program, Endicott; Broome County Youth Bureau; City of Binghamton Youth Bureau.

For more information on the CITY urban farm project, see

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John Carberry