RYTF’s Food Justice began as a response to the widespread damage to the Rockaway peninsula after Superstorm Sandy, resulting in the shuttering of many small stores and supermarkets. Lack of healthy food options in the wake of this destruction – particularly for lower income families and individuals in the community – prompted RYTF members to develop sustainable solutions for access to locally grown, low-cost fresh produce that could be easily available to residents. The result was the successful launching of a youth-led Farmers Market and the building of one of the largest youth-run Community Garden on and empty half-acre lot secured through the NYC Parks Department.
The RYTF Community Garden offers growing space for youth in our program and community residents, on-site composting, a greenhouse, solar technology, rainwater harvesting, monthly community events, and a seasonal farm stand in the Summer and Fall.
Priority for membership is given to Rockaway residents on a first come, first serve basis. The cost of garden membership is $20 annually.
In 2013, through a partnership with GrowNYC, RYTF began hosting a weekly farm stand. With food sourced through GrowNYC from local farmers, RYTF is able to provide access to fresh fruits and vegetables to all Rockaway residents. Residents may purchase produce using EBT, Credit, Cash, WIC and FMNP Checks. The farm stand currently supports an average of 125 local shoppers weekly, and has provided access to over 40,000 pounds of fresh, local produce to Rockaway residents since its inception. Shoppers at the farm stand come from all over the Rockaway Peninsula, ranging from Far Rockaway to Neponsit. Volunteering and working at the farm stand offers Rockaway youth the opportunity to learn entrepreneurial and customer service skills, while deepening their knowledge of healthy living and eating habits. Youth lead cooking demonstrations using the week’s fresh produce, and all unsold produce is donated to local food pantries.