2016-2017 Citywide Certificate Students
AJ believes building green urban landscapes is about resisting gentrification and developing community as much as growing food and storm water management. She wants to help build accessible, passive-system urban infrastructure and food-growing commons that benefit New York City as a whole.
Andrew Cohen was adopted at birth from Bogota, Colombian and raised on Long Island. He has been working on the Kingsborough community college's urban farm for about 9 months and will be finishing up a permaculture design certificate course shortly before starting classes. Andrew is interested in the program for its duel focus on social justice and growing food in urban environments and am excited to begin getting to work.
Bea Mora is Development Coordinator at Urban Green Council and a member of La Finca del Sur in the South Bronx. She is a former intern of Farm School NYC and has been non-stop inspired by everything food justice since she was introduced to it. Bea is eager to build on her existing skills and experience, and to further immerse herself in the NYC growing community.
Carena Miles moved to Newark, NJ from northern Virginia to better understand how local food systems influence the way we eat and perceive ourselves. Once settled in, Carena narrowed her interest in pursuing a career in youth development and urban agriculture after she worked as a Farm Crew Leader to four high school students on a 5-acre organic farm. When not working, Carena enjoys cooking Sunday dinners and hiking on the Appalachian Trail.
Hobbyist beekeeper and former upstate NY grower and farm hand. Carolina is a strong believer that access to healthy, local, affordable food = power, and creating sustainable farming opportunities for marginalized communities is just one step in creating an equitable society.
Frances A. Perez-Rodriguez was born in Puerto Rico, raised in New York City, and stands in solidarity with all people of color. She is deeply inspired by the reality of maintaining a healthy relationship with the planet and each other through connecting with and taking back the land.
James Amenta, originally a New Englander, lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and works as a community planner. James is passionate about furthering equality, advocating for justice, and defending the environment. James believes Farm School NYC is working to equitably decentralize the food system, and he's excited to be a part of that.
Jazlyn is a mixed race filipina desert girl on a path about justice. Jazlyn is originally from Las Vegas, and recently graduated from Stanford where I studied cities and the ways in which urbanism and society affects access, agency, and longevity for all people. She works at the Center for Urban Pedagogy where they use art and design to increase meaningful civic engagement on the daily. She love baby elephants, hip hop, decolonized history lessons, British cooking shows, clear communication, and glitter! She's completing the certificate program because the two times that she can remember being happiest are attending her first direct action and picking the tomatoes in my grandmother’s garden – and she feels like Farm School merges those two worlds in a beautiful, elegant way.
JuLee Colner grew up in South Carolina but has lived in New York City for seven years. She currently works for the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and spends much of her free time as Chair of the New York Junior League's Cooking and Health Education for Families (CHEF) committee. CHEF operates two community gardens in East Harlem and plans to add additional gardens this spring. JuLee is so excited to be part of Farm School NYC's Certificate Program and learn more about urban agriculture and food justice.
Katy Bowen is honored and excited to be part of Farm School NYC! She teaches English as a New Language to children and adults, and have been studying biodynamic agriculture since 2011. She looks forward to starting this adventure with the other Farm School NYC students and staff!
Kelly Mays McDonald
Kelly Mays McDonald is a Brooklyn-based writer and animal behavior professional. She writes on our society's complicated relationship with animals, and its inexorability from race and class. As a Black woman in America, her interest in farming is tied to the epigenetic impact and legacies of apartheid that tie to slavery and sharecropping, hoping to facilitate intergenerational healing through agricultural education that serves to mend Black and colonized people's natural relationship to land. She is looking forward to Farm School as a place to learn, heal, and connect with others forging a path to a more just society. She loves all dogs unconditionally (and some cats, too).
Leah Obias is a queer, Filipinx community organizer, educator, and advocate. They come to Farm School with 12 years of direct experience organizing immigrant, working-class youth and domestic workers in New York City. A passionate foodie, Leah is interested in building concrete, sustainable and self-determined solutions to racism and inequity in food systems, and in reclaiming connection to land among migrant communities.
Milly Itzhak has been a resident of the five boroughs for almost two decades, currently living in Queens. A few of her favorite pursuits include cooking, photography, and endurance running. She came to Farm School through her interests in holistic nutrition and social justice. She has a particular interest in healing through diet (for physical and mental health), and working with the formerly incarcerated, especially women. She has a background in the arts and design, and professionally she works as a Freelance Camera Assistant in film and television and am a member of the IATSE Labor Union. She's hoping to trade her long hours and physical labor making entertainment, for long hours and physical labor growing food, connecting people, and making a positive impact in the world. Her grandfather was a smallholder farmer overseas and farming is part of my heritage, though she has little practical knowledge—that’s why she's here! She's really looking forward to sharing this journey with all of you.
Rasheed serves as an outreach coordinator with school gardens in New York City with GreenThumb NYC Parks and Grow to Learn. He is an avid community gardener, composter and educator. As a proud member of Farm School's 2016 certificate program Rasheed hopes to one day cooperatively found a land based learning center and fully operational farm run by and for people of color. He holds a bacheors in biology from Oberlin College and masters in international agricultural development from UC Davis.
Renee Keitt is a community gardener at Chenchita's Garden in East Harlem, subject to development. The beginning of her involvement in social justice started from the gentrification in Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen/Clinton which led to the closing of Stiles Market, where she would purchase her fruits and vegetables. When the meat market next to Stiles closed, she asked whether they would be next. Renee heard about Farm School while walking around Kingsborough Community College Urban Farm (KCC). She had a conversation with Lucretia about CSA's and Lucretia brought up Just Food and Farm School. Renee then attended an Intro to Organic Vegetable Gardening at KCC. Renee believes food is a need not to be reliant on market forces. Food is a resource, that feeds your mind, body and soul.
Rica Bryan is a public health professional, experiential educator, and outdoor enthusiast who is thrilled to be joining the Farm School NYC community. For the last four years, she coordinated nutrition/cooking workshops for children and their caregivers at farmers' markets serving low-income New Yorkers and am now working as Health and Wellness Coordinator for Community Access, an organization that expands opportunities for people living with mental health concerns to recover from trauma and discrimination through a host of services including food-based programming and urban farming. Through Farm School NYC, she look forward to understanding how my work can most meaningfully advance food justice and health equity through urban agriculture.
Rose Livingston dreams about the day when she can become a full time farmer. She's interested in teaching other farmers about the art of maintaining good soil. Also, she's interested in climate change and it's impact on food security. After climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, she knows that nothing is impossible, especially with the help of Farm School.
Sean Brennan is a New York Certified Mental Health Peer Advocate. His early career in restaurant management helped him realized the connection Food played in his own mental health recovery. Sean learned the fewer processed foods he consumed and the more whole foods he ate dramatically changed the length and severity of his manic depressive symptoms. His interest in urban gardening transformed into a powerful wellness tool as well. And now for the past three years he has been carrying these recovery themes back to his community. He currently facilitates a small garden program for ACMH at one of their adult low income affordable housing apartment buildings in Queens. He's also working towards starting his own nonprofit called Brain Food Garden Project. To learn more go to https://www.facebook.com/Brainfoodgp
Although a Bronx native and an alumni and employee of New York University, Shanet currently calls Northern New Jersey home. In her spare time, she volunteers at the Garden of Hope in Newark, NJ which is part of the Newark Science and Sustainability organization and works with a girls rites of passage youth program. Additionally, she own two plots at the East Orange, NJ YMCA Community Garden where she grows a variety of my own vegetables. While her love of gardening is new, her interests in food justice, the effects of globalization on our food systems, and the need for food security are things that she have been passionate about since the early 2000s. Through her Farm School training, she hopes to build upon and share my passion
Stella Etundi had a passion for food since she was a kid. That love has translated to a career in food & beverage and while she loves what she does the inequities are glaring. She has ten years of experience working with food in some capacity, but very little of that is farming. Her interest in the training program is so she can sharpen her connection to food & land.
Suzanne Babb is a Bajan Canadian New Yorker who loves all things food and farming. She's been farming for 4 years at La Finca del Sur in the South Bronx and is one of the organizers of the Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners conference. In her day job, she work at WhyHunger supporting emergency food providers that are shifting away from the traditional charity model towards a model grounded in social justice.
Entrepreneurial spirited, urban farmer and attorney, Tonja "TJ" Jordan is continuing her journey of gardening nirvana, ready to learn and share her knowledge and love of nature at Farm School NYC's Urban Agriculture Certificate Program. In her legal life, as the founder of Jordan Law PLLC in Chelsea, NYC, she caters to the needs of entrepreneurs and creative professionals, in addition to working as an eDiscovery consultant. Tonja lives out her gardening dreams at Mason + Lime, a business concept she started with her wife, Tracey fusing urban gardening, edible landscaping, home/garden accents + farm to table culinary artistry. She is also a long-time member of Riverview Community Garden (RCG) in Jersey City, NJ where she helped establish their community composting program, Art in the Garden initiative, Urban Beekeeping Program and the RCG Food Share Project. When she isn't working in the legal field, gardening or updating her social media pages, she enjoys spends quality time with her wife, family and close friends, digital photography, house music, researching her ancestry, home renovation and creative writing. Tonja, is a native of Queens, New York and currently resides in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Ysanet Batista is a queer, Afro-Dominican chef, organizer, and farmer in training. She is the co-founder of Woke Foods, a plant-based, vegan, and vegetarian food cooperative that focuses on Dominican, and other Caribbean and Latinx cuisine. She hopes to start a farm in Washington Heights and organize alongside farmers in the Dominican Republic.