For more than 10 years, NY Sun Works, a NYC-based non-profit organization, has used hydroponic technology to teach K-12th grade students about science and sustainability. Their first hydroponic farm-classroom opened in 2010 at a Manhattan public school. Since then, they’ve grown to nearly 200 schools across the five boroughs of NYC and metro NJ, enabling over 65,000 students in 2021 alone to learn biology, ecology, chemistry and environmental science concepts – all while growing fresh produce to share with their families and school community.
To date, NY Sun Works has installed more than 700 hydroponic systems in school farm-classrooms and greenhouses. And this number is growing quickly as the non-profit is set to build at least one new hydroponic classroom every week through 2022 – and demand for the program is only growing. Students plant and grow a wide variety of crops, not only exposing them to critical hands-on science and sustainability topics, but also to new and nutritious vegetables and herbs. As students bring their harvest home to families, they share with them how delicious and fresh vegetables can be when they are grown hydroponically and eaten soon after harvest.
Now, NY Sun Works is introducing its new high school career readiness program in Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA). Recognizing the need for high school students to have direct-to-work options – and the growth of indoor farming as a green industry in NYC and other urban areas – the program provides high school students with marketable technical skills to enter the job market directly after graduation or to continue with further training in a post-secondary academic program. The program launched in 3 Brooklyn high schools in the 2021-22 school year with pilot funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and will expand to other schools and boroughs next year.
This is an exciting time for urban farmers in NYC, and NY Sun Works has been a key driver of new growth and development in this sector. Last fall, NY Sun Works Executive Director Manuela Zamora was appointed to Eric Adams’ Food Policy Transition Team where she worked alongside industry leaders and community farmers to develop plans for the administration to help grow urban agriculture in NYC. As then-Brooklyn Borough President, Mayor Adams stated in 2021, “Urban agriculture has the potential to revolutionize our urban landscape and play a significant role in an equitable recovery process…Programs such as NY Sun Works give high school students technical skills required in the emerging agricultural industry…We should seek to scale this up further.”
NY Sun Works is excited to launch this innovative career readiness program and to help build a greener NYC. For more on our CEA certification program and to learn more about NY Sun Works, please contact: Megan Nordgrén, Director of Program Development: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join Sidsel Robards, Co-Founder, the Greenhouse Project, NY Sunworks for our Indoor Ag-Con 2022 Panel: Cultivating The Workforce Pipeline: Educating the Next Gen Farmers. Learn more & register today!