Vale Urban Farm (VUF), located in Schenectady’s Historic Vale Cemetery, off Brandywine Ave, started as a community-supported farm in 2012. Over 8 years VUF partnered with many local organizations to create a thriving .6 acre farm that in 2019 fed 60 nearby families and provided fresh food to families during our Saturday Summer Lunch program and to volunteers and food pantries thru the growing season. Vale Urban Farm welcomes all ages with a children’s play area as well as chickens, rabbits, fruit, flowers, vegetables and herbs all growing at the farm! The majority of the farm work is done by members, volunteers and school groups.
In 2017 we formed a Leadership Team and in 2020 Vale Urban Farms grew to become a project of Schenectady Urban Farms. Six volunteer Leadership Team members and one paid Director currently guide the organization. Schenectady Urban Farms will continue to run Vale Urban Farm. In addition, Schenectady Urban Farms will run a community orchard and two additional urban farms; Hulett Street Garden and Fehr Avenue Farm! The Hulett Street Garden will continue as in the past, bringing in interested members from the surrounding community to grow food. The difference will be that everyone will work together to grow the food and share the harvest. The Hulett Street Garden will continue to grow as much as possible to be able to continue providing fresh food for the SiCM Food Pantry as well.
At Schenectady Urban Farms we have big dreams of a green and vibrant Schenectady, and we know the years ahead will be tough for many people. Urban Farms can provide food security, green space and sequester significant amounts of carbon. The heart of our vision is a healthy community and one of our driving missions is to lower barriers to access to fresh food. Because we see SiCM as having a mission similar to our own, we are excited to have begun the work of affiliating with SiCM this year.
Schenectady Urban Farms wants to focus on growing food at our urban sites and teaching people to grow and process food, while creating economic opportunities with agricultural work. Right now, with a pandemic raging, we are sadly unable to run our farms in the same way, providing regular open hours for people to stop by. Meanwhile, farmers and growers across the country are encouraging people to grow more food. We believe we need to grow more food in Schenectady to share with people in the coming months and process for winter storage. Schenectady Urban Farms is part of a national movement to get people access to seeds and growing information. Locally we are starting extra plants to give away. We also purchased 5 gallon pots and potting soil we are giving out to encourage people to grow at home, even if they can not plant in the ground. We are looking at online possibilities for meet ups and classes on growing and processing food.
There can be an upside too. More people growing food means stronger and healthier local food systems. It means more opportunities to feed and care for each other in some of the healthiest ways we know. One of our best events during summer 2019 at Vale Urban Farm was our Saturday Summer Lunch program. We made food to share from the farm harvest and came together to eat. Everyone sat down together and ate. We are all part of the same community. Another benefit of growing plants and being in green spaces is measurable, increased, positive mental health. This too benefits our community. Here’s to more opportunities to grow Schenectady! -Melissa MacKinnon, Director of Schenectady Urban Farms
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Donate to Schenectady Urban Farms today! We NEED to RAISE $7,500 in order to better provide programs and comfortable working conditions for city residents and youth. We hope to build two additional pavilions, a rabbit run, chicken house and a small greenhouse.
Your donation will help grow stronger, greener communities in the city of Schenectady! Monies will go towards supplies to build structures and equipment for the farms. Our new structures will be designed and built by members and volunteers.
To show our thanks for your support, we are offering products and plants from our farms. These are a limited supply and unless noted, items sent January 2021.
Visit GrowFundMe to learn more about how you can help and what exciting incentives Schenectady Urban Farms has to offer!