The Farm Rockaway, a non-profit organization, has received recognition for improving the lives of children within low-economic areas as they advocate good eating and good nutritional habits. The commemorative plaque was awarded by the National Association of University Women on May 2 during a gala event.
The award was presented to Culinary Kids for inspiring, teaching, and challenging students to develop healthy eating habits, exposing them to agriculture and culinary arts. It was also recognized for its tireless dedication in trying to end childhood obesity, educating the students about healthy eating at an early age.
The husband-and-wife team, chefs Malisa Rivera and Marion Moses run the Culinary Kids, which has been around for the past ten years, offering multiple programs and services to the community, specifically youngsters aged 14 to 24.
The organization has 2 urban sites within the Rockaways – the Culinary Kids Garden and the Farm Rockaway. Both urban farms incorporate urban gardening and agriculture components for the community in an effort to create a micro-food system designed for low-income community members.
Every season, the group reveals their programs and services that would help between 150 and 300 kids. The Culinary Kids Day Camp is a summer program, introducing the kids to food safety and cooking, including calorie counting and budget meal preparations.
The Culinary Kids will hold its second yearly organic plant sale starting May 23, selling plants throughout the summer season. Various plants will be available such as the organic cherry tomato, radish plants, delicate squash, spaghetti squash, and others. Chef Malisa said they gather funding through private donations, but the bulk of the funds usually come out of their own pockets. The costs of the project vary annually, she said.
Another community service that the organization provides is the Culinary Kids Food Bank that aims to supply non-perishable goods, including healthy foods, and veggies from the farmers market. More than half of the harvested items are given away to the Rockaway community, according to Rivera, who honestly admitted that the group is not certified organic grower, but they grow everything organically.
The chefs are hoping to increase their selections over time and to incorporate more types of produce in their urban agriculture and gardening projects. Nonetheless, they also have an herbal garden with 10 different herbs and have grown over 75 varieties through the past years.
The farmer’s market, on the other hand, will run from July until November with an effort to provide fresh organic items to the entire community. Products sold include fruits and vegetables at very affordable prices. It will take place at the 2 urban farm sites of the group. The chefs wish to expand the market operation, making it to be year-round activity.
The organization finds children to participate in the community outreach and community youth programs. Rivera said participants have steadily increased since the year 2008. The team is strongly hoping that more children will participate willingly as they will learn a lot through the various programs and benefit from the services at the same time.