The NYC Land-Based Healing Project is a community-based research project taking place from May 2023 – February 2024.
NYC Land-Based Healing Project
The Academy is proud to support Dr. Anna Ortega-Williams, Principal Investigator (PI) and Dr. Regina Bernard-Carreño (Co-PI) in the NYC Land-Based Healing Project. Funded by a CUNY Interdisciplinary Research Grant, this project seeks to better understand how urban farms and gardens support wellbeing in the context of historical trauma and structural racism.
The project team selected five NYC community farms or gardens, representing each borough, and recruited a multidisciplinary research team that includes ten Black youth or youth of color (Ages 14-24) who are working on the farms or gardens and one elder/mentor from each garden or farm. Between May 2023–February 2024, this team will create oral histories of their community garden or farm and co-design a land-based healing approach.
The five anchor community farms or gardens selected to participate in the NYC Land-Based Healing Project are:
- DIVAS for Social Justice, Resilience Garden, Queens
- H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths, Skyline Community Garden, Staten Island
- La Finca del Sur (alongside La Isla and Sweet Gum Youth Garden), Bronx
- The Brotherhood Sister Sol, Frank White Memorial Garden, Manhattan
- United Community Centers, East New York Youth Farm, Brooklyn
The research team also acknowledges Red Hook Farms of Red Hook Initiative in Brooklyn for contributing to this project's vision and design.
This project is unique in that it centers the expertise, curiosity, joy, and healing of Black youth, and youth of color, shifting their role in healing work from consumers of services to researchers and designers of holistic interventions who shape the programs and approaches that are meant to support their wellbeing.
– Dr. Anna Ortega-Williams
Neighborhood-level racism manifests structurally in ways that can include lack of affordable healthy food, toxic dumping, divestment, segregation, limited access to public spaces, hyper-surveillance, and displacement, among others. In NYC, land work (such as farming and gardening) has evolved as a community practice to address the impacts of structural racism and historical trauma. This study explores urban gardens and farms as sites of intergenerational healing and wellbeing.
This project aims to discover: 1) What meanings farming and gardening hold for Black youth, and youth of color, in NYC; and, 2) If given the resources, what land-based approach to mental health and healing of historical trauma and systemic racism would these youth design for their peers? Youth will receive stipends and training to create an oral history of their community garden or farm, and use those histories to co-design a land-based healing approach.
The project team selected five NYC community farms or gardens, representing each borough, and recruited a multidisciplinary research team that includes ten Black youth or youth of color (Ages 14-24) who are working on the farms or gardens and one elder/mentor from each of the five gardens or farms.
As part of the multidisciplinary research team, ten Black youth or youth of color will:
Attend advisory meetings
Receive training and support to create an oral history piece that documents their community farm or garden
Participate in local farm and garden visits and trainings, including to the partner farms and gardens participating in this project
Co-design a land-based healing approach, based on their research findings, to support healing and well-being for Black youth and youth of color in NYC
Elders/Mentors from each of the five community gardens or farms will:
Attend advisory meetings
Provide mentorship and support to participating youth
Provide local knowledge and guide project design and implementation in ways that are respectful of the land, the community farm, youth, and other community members
As part of the research team, the Academy aims to support the PI and co-PI in pilot implementation, disseminating key findings, and advancing the co-design of future land-based healing interventions. We will also integrate helpful practices into future Academy programs, promoting rapid implementation of research into practice.