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, Harlem Grown operates local urban farms, increases access to and knowledge of healthy food for Harlem residents, and provides garden-based development programs to Harlem youth.

Students watering garden

Healthy habits start young, which is why the programs target elementary-aged students. Because food justice is more than just providing and distributing food, Harlem Grown’s model seeks to positively impact the entire community through mentorship, job training, and partnerships to create sustainable change.

One of the many ways Harlem Grown fulfills that mission is by raising support for the physical renovation of abandoned lots in Harlem, transforming them into thriving urban farms. Currently, they operate 12 urban agriculture facilities ranging from soil-based farms, hydroponic greenhouses and school gardens.
We at Growing Roots got to know Harlem Grown originally as the community-based partner of Green City Force at Wagner Houses Farm in East Harlem, one of the Farms at NYCHA Powered by GCF. But as our relationship deepened, we became inspired by another one of Harlem Grown’s programs, their summer camp, and wanted to be a part of that too.

Child feeding a chicken

Harlem Grown runs an immersive, seven-week day camp in July and August for low-income Harlem and Bronx residents. The camp is designed to engage and inspire children to explore the outdoors, become master farmers, taste and create delicious recipes, and lead healthier lives.

Campers aged 7-14 participate in daily farming activities, learning how to grow food from seed to harvest, and prepare and eat the fruits of their bounty. Campers explore nature, sustainability, and food through weekly themed activities, including cooking, fitness, arts and crafts, science experiments, service projects, and field trips. All produce grown by the campers is taken home to their families or given to other members of the community, free of charge.

Child at Harlem Grown Summer Camp

Understanding that camps can be cost prohibitive for families who need it the most, Harlem Grown underwrites the cost of the camp for all families who qualify for free and reduced lunch. In addition to targeting youth in the community, Harlem Grown reserves slots for young children who are coming from neighboring domestic violence and homeless shelters.
Growing Roots is proud to have been able to provide the funding for 50 kids to attend the Harlem Grown Summer Camp free of charge.