New School News

Farm To Table, New School Style

Shareholders relax before a farm-to-table lunch while visiting Corbin Hill Farm in Schoharie County last August. Photo by Kasia Broussalian/The New School.

Civic engagement flourishes at The New School. Students, faculty, and alumni are involved in community-focused endeavors like Empowerhouse, New Challenge, and PETLab, and now Corbin Hill Road Farm, an innovative farm share in which The New School is playing a central role.

Corbin Hill is a network of farms and urban communities in New York founded by Dennis Derryck, a professor at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy. The farm share offers fresh local produce to people living in the Bronx and Harlem and to the New School community. Part of the food justice movement, Corbin Hill was designed to be accessible for low-income communities. It encourages members to invest in the farm and aims to strengthen community relationships.

Last August, a small documentary team from The New School traveled with alumni and local farm share members to Schoharie County for guided tours of Corbin Hill and a farm-to-table lunch. It was a chance for shareholders to witness the results of their investment while strengthening their connection to the farmers and one another.

Watch a video of the visit below.

Corbin Hill modifies the traditional community supported agriculture (CSA) model by calculating shareholder fees on the basis of income, payable on a weekly rather than yearly schedule. The system is supported by outside foundation investors and by The New School shareholders, whose fees help subsidize the cost to members uptown. University students, alumni, and staff are also involved in the ongoing project as volunteers and staff members.

Lauretha Slaughter, a program manager for policy programs at Milano, attributes the large number of New Schoolers working for Corbin Hill to the progressive ideals of the university and to its emphasis on hands-on learning opportunities. “Students see the food system in operation,” said Slaughter. “They’re meeting the farmers, and they’re applying what they learn in the field in their coursework and eventually their careers.”

Derryck is often cited as reason for the success of Corbin Hill, which started as little more than a plot of land upstate with a handful of investors—none of whom were farmers. But Derryck maintains that it’s really about taking into consideration the views of the many actors involved. “It’s all about listening to people,” he said. “If you don’t listen, you don’t know anything.”

To get involved or sign up for this season’s 23-week share, visit the Corbin Hill Road Farm website.

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