Kula Urban Farm serves a low-income community in Asbury Park, New Jersey. The farm runs job training programs and connects the community in an inspiring way.
Meet Asbury Park.
Asbury Park, a small city bordering the Atlantic in New Jersey, had its glory days as a seaside resort town. In the late sixties, the city experienced an economic decline.
Decades later, the city is making a comeback. Social and economic rejunivation is taking hold, but the change is divided. A few days ago we sat down with Nick Silverman, Farm Manager for Kula Urban Farm in Asbury Park.
Nick described Asbury Park’s partialmetamorphosis with the majority of change happening on one side of the city.”Only half of the city h
“….How can I describe it? There’s abandoned houses. There’s empty lots. There’s a lot of trash on the street. But it’s also a very vibrant community. In the spring and summer, especially when I was working outside, people would stop to talk to me. They were really interested in the farm and a lot of people who live here grew up down south or spent a lot of time down south. So I would heara lot of things like, ‘Oh man! Okra! I remember growing that in my grandmother’s garden. I love okra!’ or, ‘These tomatoes are so great, it reminds me of Georgia!’ So [there are] a lot of problems, but also a lot of opportunities.”
The city of Asbury Park is thirsty for opportunity. Interfaith Neighbors, through programs and models like Kula Urban Farm, is ready to create that opportunity.
Meet Kula Cafe and Kula Urban Farm.
a sixteen-week job training program for youths aged 17-22. Youths are referred by friends or throughthe social services, and some are walk-ins who saw the “Job Training” sign. Kula students learn a set ofskills that they need to live on their own, from hospitality skills to resume-building and finance.
Kula Urban Farm will both increase that capacity to train and increase the variety of jobs that students are prepared for. Knowing the impact that Kula Cafe has had already on the Asbury Park community and it’s youth, Nick has great hopes for Kula Urban Farm.
About Kula Urban Farm.
Interfaith Neighbors already owned a residential lot (sized 50 x 100 feet) adjacent to the cafe, so all that IFN needed was a project leader, funding, and a plan. Nick Silverman became Farm Manager and Project lead for the farm. His task was to build the site, get it running, and create an income stream whilebuilding up a job-training program. Building a greenhouse in a seaside city required some perserverence, (one challenge was building a facility that could withstand hurricane-level winds) but the Kula Urban Farm greenhouse was built.
Interest in Kula Urban Farms is still coming strong from the community, and other opportunities like a new park being built forecast a bright year for Kula Urban Farm.