Chris Bolden Newsome
Crop Management Instructor
Chris Bolden Newsome, Farm School NYC’s Crop Management co-teacher, comes from a family with deep roots in farming. “Growing food goes back at least 400 years before me,” says Chris. “We always kept that connection alive.”
With over a decade of farm experience, Chris carries on the family tradition as the Farm Manager at Bartram’s Community Farm and Food Resource Center in Philadelphia. Raised in a social justice household by adults who believed they should leave the earth better than they found it, Chris forged his own unique connection between social justice and food as a young adult. “I started to see that farming could be a tool for organizing,” he says. “I thought about all the ways I could help move people forward, particularly people of African descent - the folks I belong to.”
At Farm School NYC, he found a powerful teaching tool in the Training the Trainer model. His students’ life experience and their willingness to engage with the material are essential to moving the larger project forward, he finds. “The more I use this model, the more I appreciate the experience of teaching and being taught,” he says. Based in Philadelphia, Chris gets a different perspective on urban agriculture from teaching in New York, while his students learn from him about urban farming in Philly.
Education and keeping the food local are at the heart of both his farm and the community garden that he coordinates. Both are in Southwest Philly in a predominantly African American, Caribbean, and West African lower-income neighborhood. The farm is part of Bartram’s Garden, a public park and historic site named after a 17th century botanist. Chris keeps the farm’s harvest in the neighborhood with a CSA and by supplying local grocery stores and restaurants. He teaches canning and cooking classes and recently led a wild food and medicine walk. Chris’s sense of connection not only to the past but also the future is clear when he says, “Food sovereignty is more than a right - it’s an obligation to future generations.”