Raylin Nuñez's Story
My GrowNYC journey has provided me with a number of powerful experiences, with week 6 being a particularly memorable time. I returned to the same Community Garden in Castle Hill with DK, where I had volunteered a few weeks earlier.
The familiarity of the surroundings filled me with emotion, recalling my previous experience as a volunteer. Returning to the same community garden allowed me to reflect on my personal growth and development. I left me thinking that this community is doing something to have a better community. Seeing how I approached challenges differently this time demonstrated my ability to adapt and learn from my past experiences. It also made me appreciate the importance of community and how a place like this can unite people with different cultures and experiences around a common goal. I also know that these new experiences learned at GrowNYC will help me in the future, like when I want to plant, or talk to people about these issues of food insecurity and Food Justice.
So many experiences made me think that there are already many people making a change, in search of a better New York for everyone, which fills me with pride and happiness. These vivid experiences reinforced my understanding of the importance of food insecurity and the ability to overcome obstacles in community settings. Each visit to these places leaves a lasting mark on my mind and heart, reminding me of the magic that can happen when people come together to cultivate not only the land, but also human connections. This being one of the experiences that caught my attention the most.
Shadine Stoney's Story
This summer has impacted me in ways that I never would have imagined. When I first started this program, I was quite unsure of what it would be like as I was not very aware of urban farms and food justice. But even though I was unsure, it did not deter my excitement for any of the upcoming activities in this program. Traveling across NYC, meeting more interns who are similar to me, and gardening & composting had driven my excitement and anticipation. Going outside and getting dirty in the fields was much more interesting to me than staying in an office and growing bored all summer. Taking a ferry to Governors Island was undoubtedly my favorite trip! Also, since I'm majoring in Public Health at SUNY Buffalo, I was able to recognize how community health & food access were intrinsically tied to the foundations of Public Health.
Getting to meet Aviva and all of our guest speakers was very refreshing as I got the chance to learn about their journey into environmentalism with GrowNYC. Through this, I was able to foster meaningful connections that can outlast this summer internship. I believe that this internship prepared me to be more mindful of healthy food distribution & access. It showed me that economic disparities are harder to notice when someone doesn't look visibly "hungry" or lives in a food desert. Many underlying systemic issues are not outwardly obvious to most people, especially when they aren't the ones who go to bed hungry.
Kevin Nukunga's Story
Working with GrowNYC this summer was an experience that I’ll never forget. The journey carried a blend of excitement and curiosity, as I learned a lot whilst also still having hundreds of questions. My initial motivation was rooted in a desire to explore sustainable practices and dip my feet into this career path, little did I know that this experience would not only provide insights into sustainable living but also foster personal growth beyond my expectations. I’m proud to say that I will be practicing composting from this point forward and once composting is mandated by NYC law, I’ll be a professional.
I would most definitely say that the theme of community and teamwork emerged as a central idea during my time at GrowNYC. I saw the collective effort it takes to manage gardens, engage with local residents, and foster sustainable practices. During our time at Bro/Sis I saw firsthand how many people it really takes to manage and beautify a community garden. It wasn’t an easy task, and if everyone wanted it to like nice in the end, everyone had to participate. The direct impact that a tight-knit community can have on the environment and individuals alike was amazing. Although not exactly a residential community, our time at the MLK school in Manhattan was an example of how organizations can come together and express their love to impact a local school and community.
Looking back, my personal growth during this experience is evident. Not only did I deepen my understanding of sustainable practices but also developed essential life skills such as patience, team-building, and communication. Most importantly, my time with GrowNYC ignited a passion for environmental advocacy that I plan to carry forward in my academic pursuits and possibly a future career or hobby. Completing the program has me feeling both proud of myself as well as grateful for the opportunity and my peers. But at the same time I feel sad that the program is ending. I honestly couldn’t think of a better word other than sad but that’s the best way to describe it. I’m definitely gonna miss everyone that I’ve met in this program whether that be staff members, my peers, or the members of the other programs we’ve encountered. The relationships I've formed and the knowledge I've gained have left an indelible mark on my journey. I’m definitely committed to continuing my involvement in sustainable initiatives and inspiring others to make a positive impact in their communities. My experience has shown me that even little acts may have a significant impact when they are encouraged collectively.