Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger

BSCAH- Far Rock Farm

Location of apprenticeship site:

Beach Channel Drive and the corner of Beach 45th Street, Rockaway, Queens, NY

Name and title of Supervisor:

John Cannizzo, Rockaway Farm Manager

Supervisor Contact Info (Email and Phone):; (917) 902-7710

Number of Apprenticeship Positions available at your site:


Title of apprenticeship position(s):

Community Cultivation Apprentice

Is your site accessible via NYC public transportation (i.e. train or bus)? If yes, please provide public transportation directions to your site. If no, what is the best way to reach your site? Please provide directions:

The Far Rockaway-bound A train to Beach 44 - stop is two blocks away from the farm.

Apprentice Work Schedule

# of Hours per week:

6-8. Scheduling will accommodate the availability of the apprentice. Weekly hours will vary depending on the workload in the garden. For instance, the apprentice will be expected to work more hours per week at the beginning of the planting season to prepare.

# of Hours total (140 hours minimum):

160. This total is based on an average of about 7 hours per week over the course of 22 weeks total.

Does your apprenticeship have a specific start and end date? If yes, please provide the start and end dates:

April 15, 2014 through September 15, 2014

Does your apprenticeship have a work schedule with specific days and times? If yes, please list the days of the week and times:

This schedule will be developed in cooperation with the apprentice who chooses our site. It will include some flexible as-needed shifts to account for weeks when the workload is heavier.

Does your apprenticeship have a work schedule that is flexible and/or you are willing to wait and create a schedule that works for the apprentice? (A set schedule must be agreed upon in writing prior to the start of the apprenticeship.)


Financial Details

Will you offer the apprentice payment or a stipend? If yes, please describe:

The apprentice will be awarded a $1000 stipend upon completion of the apprenticeship. The terms of this stipend are still subject to minor changes.

Apprenticeship Description

Please list all of the following categories that apply to this apprenticeship:

Crop Production, Animal Husbandry, Teaching, Participation in Farmers Market

Please describe the apprenticeship responsibilities and tasks. Please specify if the apprentice will have a specific project or whether they will be involved with general operations.:

The BSCAH Urban Farm represents a critical connection between the emergency food provision, educational, and community empowerment facets of our organization. The Farm School NYC apprentice will be responsible for maintaining and enhancing these connections. The primary responsibility of the apprentice will be contributing to the emergency food function of the Urban Farm. Specific duties will be:

  • development of a spring planting plan and schedule to maximize crop production; organic pest control and weed management

  • cultivation of fruits, vegetables, and hens

  • compost production; harvest and poundage reporting; and thorough, accurate record-keeping to ensure that successful systems are implemented during subsequent seasons.

  • support the educational function of the Urban Farm in a number of ways. First, the apprentice will be responsible for submitting a weekly report including tasks accomplished, steps taken, and suggestions for improvement. These reports will be compiled at the end of the apprenticeship to give the apprentice a full picture of what they have achieved and to give BSCAH staff and Urban Farm volunteers additional insight about gardening best practices.

  • Managing the Green Teens and other volunteers who help with general garden operations. Specifically, the apprentice will work with the site supervisor to delegate gardening tasks to the Green Teens and volunteers, and to develop training regimens for completing those tasks. This will entail working directly with Green Teens and volunteers when their schedules overlap, and telling the site supervisor what tasks need to be prioritized when the apprentice is not on-site. 

  • lead short workshops and/or garden tours for participants in our juvenile class, Healthy Bloomers; in our young adult class, Stomp Out Obesity; and in our senior class, Health 360.

  • have the opportunity to develop basic carpentry and green infrastructure skills

  • be involved in the development of the Farmer's Market at the Rockaway site farm.They may be asked to help identify local farmers as potential participants in the Farmer's Market as well as assist at the Market itself, help prepare demonstrations of healthy cooking, answer questions and serve customers

  • aid our mission of community empowerment by promoting cultivation of fresh produce and for our pantry customers and by collaborating with the site supervisor to engage Green Teens, volunteers, and BSCAH program participants in learning about gardening.

What will the apprentice learn through this apprenticeship?

The apprentice will learn:

How urban community gardening fits into the broader picture of community food insecurity and related health problems such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.

How to develop and implement a spring planting plan for an urban community garden

How to maintain an urban community garden by engaging community youth and volunteers at various levels of gardening knowledge, skills and experience

How to track activities, progress, and trouble-shooting strategies to ensure that new systems and expertise are imparted to BSCAH and to the community

The way in which community-based enterprises such as Farmer's Markets can be developed.

Supervisor & Site Details

How does your farm/project reflect the following Farm School NYC vision: “Farm School NYC aims to increase the self-reliance of communities and inspire positive local action around issues of food access and social, economic and racial justice”?

The Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger Urban Farm in Rockaway reflect this vision in a number of ways. The Urban Farm is one of several BSCAH services, including a client-choice supermarket-style food pantry that provides emergency food to 11,000 people every month. The Urban Farm represents an additional source of fresh produce for our pantry customers, meaning that it not only serves to alleviate hunger, but also increases access to fresh, nutritious foods for the neediest members of our community. The Urban Farm also reflects this mission because it is a site of community education and volunteerism. Our youth Green Teens help maintain the garden, and in the process have learned about composting, planting, and harvesting, among other skills. By their own testimony, this experience has given them a deeper understanding of where their food comes from and a greater motivation to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into their own diets. Other BSCAH educational programs, including our Health Bloomers class for juveniles, our Stomp Out Obesity class for young adults, and our Health 360 class for seniors, include hands-on activities on the Urban Farm. For example, the participants in Stomp Out Obesity will be applying the gardening skills they learn on the Urban Farm to help neighborhood seniors start gardens in their homes and backyards. Finally, we periodically offer tours of the Urban Farm to students from area schools, thereby bringing the Urban Farm's messages of community-building, sustainability, and food justice to a wider audience. The project empowers community members to explore small scale economic development through the Farmer’s Market and each season employs local youth and seniors that work at the farm.

What experience and knowledge will you (the Supervisor) share with the apprentice?

John has many years of horticultural and agricultural experience as well as having been a NYC Board of Education High School Teacher. After completing his Peace Corps assignment in East Africa john joined the Horticultural Society of NY where he helped to create an income generating project that functioned as a re-entry program for ex-offenders and youth that had been involved with the justice system. John helped to organize the original farm project at BSCAH’s headquarters in Bed-Stuy and has many years of experience in community development including organizing conferences and writing and reporting on funding proposals. He will serve as the connection between the apprentice and the BSCAH staff, the volunteers and Green Teens. On site there is also a very skilled head farmer that has a great deal to teach about traditional methods of planting and maintain a farm. The Head Farmer and the Farm Manager will provide specific training to help the apprentice fulfill their duties on the farm in all aspects of this work. While the apprentice will be expected to bring technical gardening knowledge, the farm staff will provide specific direction and experience in areas of organizing, education and community based enterprise.

What is exciting about your apprenticeship site?

The Rockaway Farm of BSCAH is a 1 acre site that is shared with another farm project. The site has the potential to produce a great deal of food. It can provide a full array of experiences including animal husbandry and community enterprise. There is also the opportunity to assist in the development of infrastructure like irrigation and solar energy. Food produced on our Urban Farm is going to individuals and families who need it most, facing limited access to fresh produce for both financial and geographic reasons. Second, our site offers numerous opportunities for direct engagement with the community, through our Green Teen program, and our other community outreach and education work. Third, through integration with the other aspects of these programs such as nutrition education, healthy cooking demos, and initiatives encouraging community members to start their own backyard and home gardens, our Urban Farm is having a broader impact on community access to and enthusiasm about fresh, nutritious, local food. Finally, the Urban Farm will be an exciting site for an apprentice because it incorporates so many different aspects of urban community gardening, fruit and vegetable cultivation, animal husbandry (chickens), Farmer’ Marketing, volunteer engagement, and community education. 

Apprenticeships must include farming and/or gardening; they must engage the student in work with low-income populations; and they must be based in or connected to New York City in some way. Is the work of your site rooted in or connected to New York City? Please explain:

BSCAH staff and volunteers, as well as our client population, are members of the New York community. Our organization is a reflection of the struggles that many of our community members face in meeting their basic nutritional needs. Our Urban Farm is a reflection of the innovative solutions that we are pursuing in the context of New York's unique geography, limited growing space, high property values, and unequal distribution of food and other economic resources.

Does your site work with low-income communities? If yes, please explain the nature of your work with low-income communities:

BSCAH's target population is the approximately 3.3 million New Yorkers who live in households experiencing food insecurity, hunger and inadequate nutrition. Most critically, we strive to serve the 1.4 million men, women, children, seniors, working poor, and people with disabilities who rely on food pantries and soup kitchens to meet their food needs. We also target the disproportionately large numbers of low-income, nutritionally-challenged New Yorkers living in Central Brooklyn and Farm Rockawaywho are suffering from obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Nearly 30% of households in the immediate vicinity of BSCAH have annual incomes under $10,000 and almost 40% of neighborhood families have incomes below the poverty line, according to the US Census Bureau's 2009 American Community Survey (ACS). Over 80% of BSCAH clients are African-American, 13% are Latino, and the remainder are white, Asian and mixed race. Children represent 37% of the people receiving our food and services and almost all of these children qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches. More than 15% of our clients are seniors living on fixed incomes and 75% of our clients receive disability payments, food stamps or other income assistance. Along with providing access to healthy locally grown food the Rockaway Farm provides economic opportunity for local residents as well as summer youth employment and employment for our own Green Teens. This is the early stage of the Rockaway Farm’s development so there is ample opportunity to explore possibilities for the full integration of the Farm into the life of the community.

Will the apprentice’s responsibilities include food cultivation?


Please list all that apply:

The site is a 1-acre farm that is shared with another farm project.

The apprentice will gain experience in the cultivation of (please list all that apply):

Vegetables, Fruit, Herbs, Livestock

If your site is a farm, garden, or other crop propagation site, please list all that apply:

Organic but not certified, Biodynamic, We also practice some integrated pest management and minimally till the soil.

Does your site employ any non-organic farming practices (i.e. pesticides, fertilizers)?


Apprentice Requirements

If a Farm School NYC student is interested in your apprenticeship, what type of application materials do you want from them?

Cover letter, Resume, Interview

Please explain:

The cover letter will give us an initial idea of why the applicant is interested in working at our site, the resume will show us what kind of background and experience they bring to the site, and the interview will give us an opportunity to glean additional information about his/her background and experience as it relates to this particular position and to tour our Urban Farm to ensure that the match is a good fit for BSCAH and for the apprentice. Also, a further note regarding the course prerequisites: Other courses that would fit well with the site, but are not required, are Transformational Leadership, Training of Trainers, Food Justice, and Irrigation. Applicants should indicate on their resume if they have taken any of these courses.