For Ashley Stoner, nothing compares to picking that perfect grape tomato.
“They’re really tiny and the most flavorful,” Stoner said. “They’re like little bites that you can just pop in your mouth.”
Stoner’s love of gardening started very young. Her mother signed her up to join the nonprofit organization Campaign Against Hunger when she was just 4-years-old. Now at 16, she’s learned a lot.
“It feels nice to know that when I’m harvesting, when I’m watering or weeding, I’m helping to contribute to a grander scale of things,” said Stoner.
Stoner is among dozens of 14 to 24-year-olds taking part in this paid internship at Saratoga Farm in Bedford-Stuyvesant where they learn to farm and maintain organically grown produce. The food then gets distributed to restaurants and a nearby food pantry.
“It’s beautiful,” Robert Abramo said, who goes to the food pantry every Monday. “The staff is amazing, and they’re volunteers.”
Ambramo likes to stock up on fruits and vegetables. He says many stores in the area have a limited selection.
“I have a thing with organic food, they charge too much,” Abramo said. “So, I get stuff here that is incredible.”
BedStuy Campaign Against Hunger Saratoga Farm has grown, in part because it won a $100,000 dollar grant in 2018. The Brooklyn Community Foundation awards five of those grants called Spark Prizes to five organizations every year no-strings-attached.
“This is the type of nonprofit that we want to support as we think through, ‘What does racial justice look like?’” Dr. Jocelynne Rainey, President of the Brooklyn Community Foundation said. “It looks like this, it looks like those nonprofits that are actually in the community doing the work, changing lives.”
The goal of the grant is to address racial inequities in Brooklyn neighborhoods by giving local organizations the resources they need to flourish.
“It is important that families who could not afford food and could not go to the nearest farmers market that have really expensive produce can get produce right in their neighborhood from their backyard and using that concept to teach,” Dr. Melony Samuels, Executive Director and Founder of The Campaign Against Hunger said.
A concept that enables the organization to thrive as well and give back to its community by growing healthy and accessible food.
In total, Campaign Against Hunger grows 70,000 pounds of produce that supplies its pantry and markets, serving 66,000 families a year.