Teens cultivate urban farm in Hamilton Heights

Joe Torres Image
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Urban farming project
Joe Torrest reports.

HAMILTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan (WABC) -- For those of you think farming is only done in the rural, open spaces of suburbia and beyond, think again. It's happening in Manhattan.

Nestled in the middle of 143rd Street between Broadway and Hamilton in Hamilton Heights is a public garden and urban farm.

What do they grow? Cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, jalapeno peppers and more.

Nando Rodriguez, 36, said neighborhood kids and teenagers grow and cultivate every single fruit, vegetable and herb in the garden. They also built the pond that houses fish and turtles.

The lessons learned at this urban farm focus on more than food and nature.

"I'm always teaching them initiative, you know, responsibility, do it yourself. Don't wait for nobody to do it for you," Rodriguez said.

It's not just the kids who reap the rewards of the urban farm. The many black and Latino families in this neighborhood rely on the produce grown here for fresh, healthy food that's priced just right.

"All of our food here is grown by the kids but the community comes in and takes it for free," said Rodriguez. "We don't charge. There is no membership. They come in, take what they want, measure, and then we know how much we've grown throughout the year."

The urban farm fills the bellies and warms the hearts of families in northern Manhattan.