HKFP is the outgrowth of community discussions concerning nutritional security, especially scarcity of affordable fresh produce, in the wider Hell's Kitchen community in New York City. (Photos: Ivan Clow)
Hell's Kitchen Farm Project (HKFP) is an urban rooftop farm in midtown Manhattan, managed and run by volunteers.
HKFP's mission is to create a more food-secure urban community through collaborative farming, multi-generational education and community initiatives.
Tiffany Triplett Henkel, pastor of Metro Baptist Church and executive director of Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries, is a founding member of the Hell's Kitchen Farm Project.
Scott Stearman is pastor of Metro Baptist Church as well as Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Baptist World Alliance liaison to the United Nations.
1. How did your organization become involved in this work?
HKFP is the outgrowth of community discussions concerning nutritional security, especially scarcity of affordable fresh produce, in the wider Hell's Kitchen community in New York City.
In 2010, Metro Baptist Church and Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries (RMM), along with community partners, Clinton Housing Development Company and Metropolitan Community Church of NYC, organized around the issue of our concerns for food justice in our neighborhood.
We drew upon our varied, but crucial, resources and officially formed the Hell's Kitchen Farm Project.
Today, HKFP is an active urban farm that engages thousands of volunteers (from around the world) each year to grow food that is distributed through RMM's weekly food pantry and to provide educational opportunities, including our summer food justice intern program for New York City high school students.
2. Why is this issue/initiative/ministry important to you and your organization?
There are 1.4 million New Yorkers who are food insecure, meaning they do not have reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.
Metro Baptist Church and Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries have been addressing food insecurity for more than 30 years through our weekly food pantry and snack bag programs, which currently provide emergency food for nearly 800 individuals per month.
Simultaneously, hosting the Hell's Kitchen Farm Project now helps us move beyond charity to justice through communal farming, educational initiatives and advocacy. As we say, we are "growing more than food" on our roof.
3. What are a few lessons you've learned through your involvement?
The hardest lesson we've learned is that pigeons love our food as much as we do! (Urban farming woes.) Seriously, over the last eight years, we have learned how hard it is to grow even a little food.
But we've also learned that it is worth the effort, as we see how much our pantry guests enjoy the fresh food items they receive from our farm or when our young interns harvest food they have nurtured from the seed.
We've learned that food is a delicious common ground for people from all walks of life, cultures, generations and experiences.
4. How can people learn more about and support what you're doing?
The best way to learn about the Hell's Kitchen Farm Project is to come and visit us. Our farm is open to the public for visits, volunteering or both on Thursday and Saturday mornings from April through November, weather permitting. We also welcome visitors by appointment other times.
You can also learn a great deal about us by checking out our website (HKFP.org). From there, you can sign up to be on our mailing list, follow us on social media and, most importantly, donate. Donations help us with farm supplies and support our youth intern program.
5. Why is it important to support initiatives that promote social justice and care for the "least of these" in our local communities?
Hell's Kitchen Farm Project is a collaborative effort birthed by four organizations committed to providing support for the most vulnerable in our wider community.
Food justice is not just about food; it is linked to promoting better education, better health, better jobs and stronger communities. Food justice is a part of our calling as a faith community striving to live and minister as Jesus did.