Passion Project Feature: Allerton Library

The Allerton Library location of BridgeUp:Core in the Bronx has a backyard - a grassy outdoor space that the scholars used over the school year, until it occurred to their Fellow to suggest that maybe they could transform the space into something even better.

The scholars were passionate in the idea of taking ownership over the space and in learning about nutrition, urban farming, and health. They asked themselves and each other, “How can we educate ourselves about nutrition, improve our health and well-being, and empower our community through the creation of a sustainable urban farm in the backyard of the Allerton library?”

With this driving question motivating them, Allerton scholars got to work. They designed a farming area with the space they had on hand, planning to fill a corner with cement to create a picnic area and fill the rest of the space with planters. They learned which plants needed the most space, which needed to be close to the fence to use it as a trellis, and what they actually wanted to plant.

Allerton scholars also asked Home Depot for help. They sent a plan of action and a list of the materials they needed to Home Depot -- and Home Depot delivered them. For free. The scholars unloaded materials from the truck once it arrived at the library, and kids from around the neighborhood came to see what they were doing and help them. Before BridgeUp students even started planting, they engaged their community in their passion project.

Meanwhile, between planting, watering, and weeding, the students took field trips to learn about urban farming, sustainable gardening, and nutrition. They toured the New York City Greenmarket at Union Square. They learned about the connections between poverty and diet and had lessons in nutrition from guest speakers. They visited the Clinton Housing Development Company and learned about food justice.

Our BridgeUp scholars at Allerton planted a garden, but they didn’t stop there. They dove headfirst into the areas of inquiry that urban farming meant for them, as students in the Bronx, as young people spending much of their time in food deserts, as scholars invested in learning more about the way the world works and what they can do to make a change.

And they invited all their neighbors to join them in eating the food they harvested.

Students:  Joshua, Michael, Johanna, Aaliyah, Elisha, Nick, Tonima, Chad, Natassia, Kimberly, Moamer, Sawera, Carene

Photos courtesy: Jonathan Tupas

Aubrey Aden-Buie