Yonnette Fleming; Brooklyn, NY
Yonnette Fleming is a lifelong musician, social change advocate and urban farmer who is committed to advancing systems of knowledge which build healthy individuals, families and communities and provide community solutions to the issue of food insecurity, health disparities and social inequities.
Fleming has worked to advance community resilience to the issue of food insecurity through educating and increasing access to fresh and local food in the Central Brooklyn community since 2003. Fleming's holistic farming approach incorporates growing food and nurturing humans while revitalizing community spaces.
Fleming grows her community's health and cultural wealth through engaging community members in sustainable building projects, by engaging youth in urban agriculture work and advocacy, offering disparity, gardening, nutrition and ecology workshops, intergenerational community talking councils, percussion circles and cultural festivals. The garden currently serves 50 low income families who subsidize their food budget at home by growing food and indirectly serves thousands of people who visit the garden and farm space and attend the programs each year.
In 2009 Fleming visioned and created a new childrens' garden from an abandoned lot with the children, teachers and parents of a neighborhood elementary school. In addition, she created educational programs for elementary school kids to facilitate outdoor learning in their impressionable years and the Hattie Carthan Urban agriculture corps for teenagers. The elementary school garden program offers young children the opportunity to learn about gardening and health, while the teenage youth corps offers hands-on training to youth in growing food, livestock management and the mechanics of owning and operating a community venture. Teenagers enrolled in the youth corps also receive a stipend to work in the market. In 2011, Fleming established jurisdiction and signed a license with the city to revitalize another abandoned lot. The new herb farm is home to over eighty varies of herbs and is a fine example of an urban farm model that factors in the needs of the Environment and people. The neat rows and cornucopia of food spilling from growbags is the vision and design of urban farmer Yonnette Fleming who was instrumental in organizing community residents to revitalize the space for urban farming. The new farm has a hoophouse, large three bin composting system and runs a Sunday market to increase access to fresh food and educate community residents about the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables to the human.
Fleming's educational programs reflect the unique needs of the garden population and are at the hallmark of the Hattie Carthan community garden/herban farm and two community based markets where Fleming serves as Vice President, visionary and founder of the two community farmers market. Fleming currently teaches Food Justice at the NYC Farm School and has been a keynote speaker at higher education institutions, cultural institutions and food forums.