This Urban Farm invites you to drop in for a chat! A sunny afternoon on zoom with John Mudd and Sharon Jasprizza reveals a glimpse into the best part of life in the heart of New York City – people who are dedicated to easing the lives of those less fortunate. In 2019, the Midtown South Community Council partnered with Midtown Community Court to develop an urban farm right in the core of the inner city. This partnership with the Midtown Community Court offers gardening, education, and volunteer opportunities for people who have been in the criminal justice system, those without housing, neighbors, and many more in New York City.
In this urban landscape venue, which was at one time too hot from the glare of the sun and concrete, there is now lush shade, birds, and a more natural environment due to the organic gardening efforts of Mr. Mudd and Ms. Jasprizza and the many volunteers who have supported their organization. Its Midtown Urban Farm Grows Community Program provides fresh food to people in shelters and on the street while addressing health, medical support, dignity, and security needs.
An Ambitious Program
The organic community garden is only one of seven programs under Midtown South Community Council’s umbrella, and all are designed to help disadvantaged, homeless, and otherwise under-served residents living in and beyond 29th Street, to 45th street, and on 9th Avenue to Lexington Avenue. If you’ve ever been to New York, know this is a pretty significant chunk of the city.
Last year alone, the Midtown Urban Farm Grows Community Program provided more than 800 pounds of fresh food from the community garden. Raising strictly organically grown produce, this program delivers food to elderly folks who are able to cook and prepare meals, as well as delivering fresh produce to residential chefs at senior housing locations. The food is distributed to those in sheltered living, as well as to those who are unsheltered.
The region qualifies as a “food desert” because it lacks available high-quality, nutritious food for those on limited incomes. The Midtown organization rallies people from shelters and low-income housing neighborhoods to volunteer their time and help in the garden, and in turn, feeds them and helps them learn about gardening.
This is not a small endeavor, and the garden is only part of the story. Among other vital projects, the Midtown organization manages a Laundry for Kids Program to help provide laundry tokens for kids living in shelters and needing to wash their clothes. Its seven programs intersect to deliver high-quality services to bring people together to find pathways to health and housing.
The garden is just one essential part of this important extraordinary organization — there is an ongoing search for additional properties where new gardens can be developed.
There are many local donors who help fund the Midtown program by sponsoring street fairs and events. Community education is an integral part of the gardening program so that those who can volunteer learn all about sustainable gardening, and help those who aren’t able to volunteer.