Innovation Grant Awarded from Richmond County Savings Foundation
Cesar Claro & Olga Melnyk, Richmond County Savings Foundation, with Jennifer Walden Weprin, Queens Farm (center)
Photo Credits: Queens County Farm Museum
Queens, NY – Richmond County Savings Foundation has awarded Queens County Farm Museum their inaugural Innovation Grant. This prestigious grant was designed to support organizations working on transformative change.
Richmond County Savings Foundation’s Innovation Grant supports Queens Farm’s capacity-building work to expand its public service through agriculture. As the largest tract of farmland in New York City and the most visited cultural organization in Queens, this support will have enormous community impact as Queens County Farm Museum works to increase food production to serve communities in need.
Queens County Farm Museum offers free daily admission and is open to the public seven days per week year-round welcoming over 500,000 annual visitors. It tells the story of agriculture as New York City grew around the 47-acre site over three centuries. Once a subsistence farm feeding the Adriance Family for over five generations (1697-1808), Queens Farm became the second largest farm and the most valued in an agrarian Queens in the early 1920s.
Today, in addition to its acclaimed STEM School-to-Farm Education Program, robust public events and bucolic grounds, Queens County Farm Museum is shortening the distance from farm to fork while expanding access to farm-fresh food, increasing opportunities for local food work and bolstering a green workforce. This expansion comes at a time when there is renewed focus on urban food systems and health and wellness in New York City. In 2022, New York City Mayor Eric Adams launched the inaugural Mayor’s Office of Urban Agriculture to lead the City’s efforts to increase access to and production of locally grown food, strengthen climate resilience, and spur economic activity throughout New York City. Queens County Farm Museum has been an agricultural leader in the City and, with the support of Richmond County Savings Foundation’s Innovation Grant, Queens Farm can continue to build on this important work.
Photo Credit: Northwell Health
No other organization in New York City is doing this comprehensive, innovative work. The $75,000 award from Richmond County Savings Foundation is a key component to Queens Farm’s unprecedented expansion of public service. Queens Farm’s largest agricultural expansion in over fifty years includes the cultivation of an additional five acres by 2025 and the introduction of season-expanding growing techniques through the purchase of a high tunnel and additional agricultural equipment. Queens Farm has also hired two newly created positions in its Agriculture Department – a Field Manager and Livestock Manager – in addition to rebranding and expanding its Green Workforce Training program to develop skilled seasonal farmers contributing to the burgeoning green economy in New York City and beyond.
Queens County Farm Museum grows over 200 varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers making it a leader in hyper-locally grown food in New York City. Queens Farm operates two community-based farmstands in addition to its on-site farmstand: one at the centrally located, easily accessible Queens Borough Hall, and one in partnership with Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, located in a noted food swamp. Both partners are committed to expanding access to hyperlocal, fresh food. Queens Farm’s produce is regeneratively grown and Certified Naturally Grown. It travels less than eight miles from the field to each community farmstand. These community farmstands also feature agricultural products grown and produced in New York State, expanding the reach of New York State agriculture more deeply into NYC’s urban communities. Queens Borough President Donovan Richards launched Operation Urban Sustainability in 2022, demonstrating his commitment to this work. Jamaica Hospital Medical Center is deeply invested in improving health outcomes in their community service area.
Farm-to-Table Wellness Program at the on-site farmstand, in partnership with Northwell Health
Photo Credit: Queens County Farm Museum
In addition to the support of Richmond County Savings Foundation, Queens County Farm Museum has garnered the support of Northwell Health, New York State’s largest private healthcare system and private employer, as Queens Farm’s inaugural Health & Wellness Partner. This unprecedented five-year collaboration between the Queens County Farm Museum and Northwell Health is a strategic alliance that will help instill healthy values for New Yorkers while providing opportunities for the next generation of New Yorkers to work and learn from both institutions. As part of this partnership, the Farm-to-Table Wellness program brought cooking education, tastings, demos and Registered Dietitian access to the on-site farmstand in 2023 and will expand its footprint in 2024.
Queens County Farm Museum has also secured, for the third consecutive year, Whole Foods Foundation’s Whole Foods Community First Grant. This esteemed program backed by Whole Foods Market is dedicated to broadening community access to fresh food and nutrition education by supporting partnerships between Whole Foods Team Members and local nonprofits. The recognition and support from Whole Foods Market and the Foundation underscores Queens County Farm Museum’s dedication to promoting environmental stewardship, fostering community engagement, and preserving the agricultural heritage of Queens.
Photo Credit: Maryann Young, Whole Foods Market
The Richmond County Savings Foundation Innovation Grant program was launched in 2022 and forty submissions were considered for awards. After several rounds of review, RCSF awarded Innovation Grants to the most qualified applicants to enable them to pursue programs that positively impact their communities at large.
“RCSF is proud to support the Queens County Farm Museum and their largest such expansion in over 50 years. With this expansion, Queens Farm is on the precipice of exponential growth to expand service to the public, through helping to fight food insecurity for low-income New Yorkers, provide job training, increase employment opportunities, and offer educational/cultural programming,” said Cesar J. Claro, Executive Director of Richmond County Savings Foundation.
“Queens County Farm Museum is a leader of hyper-locally grown food in New York City,” stated Jennifer Walden Weprin, Executive Director of Queens County Farm Museum. “We are deeply honored and excited to receive the RCSF Innovation Grant. This marks a pivotal moment in our commitment to advancing Queens Farm’s community impact. RCSF’s support will help amplify our efforts in sustainable agriculture and expand our public service and improve the health and wellness of New Yorkers.”
About Queens County Farm Museum
Queens County Farm Museum showcases the 300-year history of agriculture as a way of life in New York City. It is a New York City Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places. Queens County Farm Museum offers free admission and hosts a wide variety of acclaimed education programs and public events. It serves as a vital resource connecting New Yorkers to agriculture and the environment. Queens County Farm Museum is located at 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park, NY 11004. For more information, visit queensfarm.org.