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A Walking Tour of Harlem Grown: From Food Desert to Urban Farming
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A Walking Tour of Harlem Grown: From Food Desert to Urban Farming

When: 9:45 am-2:00 pm
Where: New York
United States
Contact: Administrator

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The event has been postponed due to the inclement weather forecast. For more details:

A Walking Tour of Harlem Grown: From Food Desert to Urban Farming

A guided tour of thriving urban farms in Harlem, where neighborhood children can learn how to grow food from seed to harvest and cook healthy meals using the fruits of their labor. The 60-minute tour will be led by Tony Hillery, Founder and Executive Director of Harlem Grown, and feature the organization's urban farms, greenhouse and livestock. Hillery received the 2017 CNN Hero award for inspiring youth to lead healthy and ambitious lives.

The tour will be followed by an expert discussion around “food desert” challenges facing inner-city communities and opportunities to tackle them through mentorship and hands-on education in urban farming, sustainability, and nutrition. A brown bag lunch will be provided and is included in the ticket price. Attendees are invited to volunteer following the event -- learn how to compost, provide chicken care and be an awesome agronomist. An outline of activities for the event appears below.


Téana David (moderator), Content Director, Deepak Homebase 
Gale A. Brewer, 27th Borough President of Manhattan
Alex Rudnicki , AeroFarms
Tony Hillery (alternate speaker), Founder and Executive Director of Harlem Grown.

SPECIAL OFFER:  Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York offers ONE FREE EVENT for new members who sign up for the first time ($85 or more). Click here to join now and then contact us within 90 days to receive your promotional code before you register for the event of your choice (cannot be combined with other promotional codes; sports events, holiday parties and mixers are excluded.) 

- 9:45 - participants arrive, sign in
- 10am-11am - tour with Tony
- 11am-12pm - informal panel / Q&A
- 12-12:30 - brown-bag lunch will be provided; networking (picnic benches/lawn space available)
- 12:30-2pm - wrap up/participants that want to volunteer can jump in on tasks like watering, weeding, chicken care, compost along with community members and other volunteers

Special Instructions:  Please wear long pants, closed shoes and sun protection.  Bring a camera!

Panel Bios:

Téana David (Moderator) is the Content Director at Deepak Homebase in NYC, where she curates 80 + transformational events per year addressing environmental stewardship, spirituality, and social justice. She is also a community herbalist in the Wise Woman Tradition, having apprenticed under Susun Weed & a Buddhist practitioner, with an MFA in Contemporary Performance from the Buddhist-inspired Naropa University in Boulder Colorado.

Gale A. Brewer is the 27th Borough President of Manhattan. Since she took office in 2014, she has successfully passed legislation to reform the deed restriction process, add ‘caregivers’ to the city’s anti-discrimination law, remove criminal history questions from initial employment applications (the “Fair Chance Act”), and enforce requirements for street numbers on buildings in Manhattan (to aid emergency workers). She has also spearheaded community planning initiatives at the South Street Seaport, in East Midtown, and in other neighborhoods to address development and zoning issues.  Brewer previously served on the City Council for 12 years, serving as the founding chair of the Technology Committee and leading the Government Operations Committee. There, the Council passed her legislation guaranteeing paid sick leave for most hourly employees, requiring all City data be published online, and protecting domestic workers from abusive practices.  Prior to that, she served as Chief of Staff to Council Member Ruth Messinger, NYC Deputy Public Advocate, Director of the city's Federal Office, and Executive Director of the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women. Brewer has an MPA from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and did her undergraduate work at Columbia University and Bennington College.

Alex Rudnicki joined AeroFarms as one of its earliest employees in 2013 and has played pivotal roles helping develop AeroFarms’ innovative technology and operations that grow leafy greens without soil or sunlight. Recognized by Fast Company as one of the Most Innovative Companies in the World, AeroFarms uses significantly less water, area, and time to grow the same amount of produce than traditional find farming. Alex joined AeroFarms after spending time at Turner Construction Company, where he was an Estimating and Field Engineer. He had the pleasure of working on the BASF Headquarters project in Florham Park that earned two LEED Platinum awards for its building core and interior. This experience catalyzed his interest in sustainable design which led him to AeroFarms. Alex received his bachelor's of science in civil engineering and engineering mechanics from Columbia University in 2010. He is currently back in graduate school, working on his MPA in Environmental & Science Policy at Columbia University, expecting to graduate in 2018.

Tony Hillery is the Founder and Executive Director of Harlem Grown. Tony founded Harlem Grown to address the health and academic challenges facing public elementary school students in Harlem. In 2011, he began volunteering with a local elementary school and was witnessing first-hand the lack of resources allocated to the schools and the poor nutrition of students. He noticed an abandoned and overrun community garden across the street from the school. Tony rallied volunteers and raised the funds needed to transform the lot into a thriving urban garden, kicking off Harlem Grown’s first-ever growing season. The first year, he worked with 400 students to plant 400 seedlings. He watched as students transformed their eating habits and learned skills like patience and responsibility. The first season, they grew 38 lbs of produce. In 2017, Harlem Grown expanded to partner with five local Harlem schools, reached over 4,900 youth, composted over 20,000 lbs of food scraps and grew over 5,400 pounds of fruits and vegetables that are then distributed to families-in-need throughout the community.

About Harlem Grown
Harlem Grown is an independent, non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire youth to lead healthy and ambitious lives through mentorship and hands-on education in urban farming, sustainability, and nutrition. Founded in 2011, the organization operates local urban farms, increases access to and knowledge of healthy food for Harlem residents, and provides garden-based development programs to Harlem youth.  Harlem Grown programs target elementary-aged students. Because food justice is more than just providing and distributing food, their model seeks to positively impact the entire community through mentorship, job training, and partnerships to create sustainable change. Harlem Grown fulfills its mission by raising support for the physical renovation of abandoned lots in Harlem, transforming them into thriving urban farms.

This event is organized by the Sustainable Business Committee. A special thank you to Gideon Saroufiem for organizing this event and for securing speakers.

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