Welcome to the Evolving Man Project’s “Evolved Man of the Week” profile. Each week we will highlight an individual that embodies what it means to be an evolved person, famous and non-famous individual alike. The world needs to know their stories and deeds. This week’s honor goes to the urban farmer, Stony Brook University grad, and manager at Red Hook Farms, Brendan Parker.
Brendan Parker was one of New York City’s 40 Under 40: The Rising Stars in New York City Food Policy in 2016. His has also been featured in Men’s Health Magazine. He was considered a bit of an outcast and called ‘hippie’ and ‘nature boy’ while in school. He didn’t let name calling deter him from pursuing his passion for farming. Even when his family worried about his financial stability and long term future Brendan pressed on. Sure at first thought, a young black man getting into farming seems like an odd career choice. But Brendan Parker knows the long and storied history of black farmers in the United States. The great agricultural scientist and inventor George Washington Carver comes to mind. Brendan stands on the shoulders of giants.
Brendan shares his passion for farming with the youth of New York City. Teaching young people the beauty of working with their hands and watching seeds grown into food. Food that the young people cared for and nurtured from seed to the table.
Red Hook Farms is a youth-centered urban farming and food justice program in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Formerly known as Added Value, we became a project of the Red Hook Initiative in November 2018. We create opportunities for teens to expand their knowledge base, develop their leadership skills, and positively engage with each other, their community, and the environment. We operate two urban farm sites. Our programs include a teen farm apprenticeship, three weekly farm stands, a CSA, and a school workshop program. Since 2001, we have strived to transform vacant lands into vibrant urban farms, improve access to healthy, affordable produce, and nurture a new generation of green leaders.
Red Hook Initiative (RHI) is a community-based nonprofit serving over 5,000 Red Hook NYCHA residents annually through a model of youth development, community building, and community hiring.
Here is Brendan Parker in his own words about the impact of COVID19 and the Black Lives Matter Movement on his work:
COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter demonstrations haven’t changed our mission at Red Hook. They’ve solidified it. Good food is a right. Farming is political—especially to farm on a small scale, in urban areas, and organically. It’s a political act because for so many years the kind of farming our U. S. government supports has been the complete opposite of those things: large, rural, and nonorganic.
We wish Red Hook Farms and the Red Hook Initiative much future success as it continues to serve the people of Brooklyn. All while inspiring young people to work with their hands and get a bit closer to nature. Right in their own backyards.
Today we honor Brendan Parker as our Evolved Man of the Week.