The Urban Wild is a New York City-based nonprofit organization dedicated to making sustainable agricultural technology more accessible to areas affected by food insecurity. We believe we can educate, empower and ultimately, uplift vulnerable communities out of food-insecure states through the use of localized sustainable agriculture and pathways to opportunities in the green sector.
The Urban Wild will foster the next generation of urban farmers who will use technology and advanced farming methods to meet the food production demands of the future. We aim to provide free workshops & training to 1500 individuals, secure 250 job placements for our alumni, and help build 100 green spaces & farms by 2025.
As climate-caused drought threatens to leave 1.8 billion people in a water scarce state by 2025, it's crucial that food insecure communities begin farming locally and using growing methods that reduce water consumption like hydroponics and aquaponics.
In the US, the average age of farmers is 57 years old. As our global population increases, we'll need to increase our food production significantly to meet the demand. We have to begin stewarding young adults into the jobs that are emerging in green infrastructure due to these workforce shifts.
Our current food infrastructure leaves 1 in 9 people in a state of chronic hunger. This problem is only becoming worsened by the resource intensive practices that commercial farming uses which damages farmland. From production, distribution, pricing and marketing, we need to rethink food access from the bottom-up.
We provide hands-on, interdisciplinary training for young adults (18-30 years old) interested in gaining agriculture, construction, and technology skills - free of charge for participants earning less than $40,000/year.
We work with New York City's schools, community-based organizations, and community gardens to build and maintain community smart farms, food hubs and green spaces.
We leverage technical skills and tools to advance farming practices. With access to affordable, user-friendly technology solutions, urban and commercial farmers can integrate data-informed practices to improve their farm sites.
We partner with employers to integrate employment based skills into our training & place alumni into gainful employment positions. Upon successful completion of our job training programs, participants are matched to 3-6 month subsidized internship roles with one of our community partners, at no or reduced cost to local employers.
The Urban Wild began with 2 local volunteers, Samia Lemfadli & Paul Philpott,
and a desire to radically change the landscape of New York City. We saw that the
tools that could alleviate poverty and food insecurity were not accessible to
the communities most impacted by it - in New York City and abroad. Food access
is being addressed from the top-down, yet food insecurity is on the rise and
climate change threatens to worsen this outdated infrastructure in the years to
come. While AgTech, a $14 Billion industry in the United States, continues to
grow, it's clear that the readiness of food system solutions is not the problem.
It's access - for the people that need it.
We decided to bring modern farming practices and agricultural technology to our communities and in the process, help up-skill young jobseekers to fill the gainful employment roles emerging from this booming sector. We can reshape our local food economy. We can create pathways into these emerging sectors and advance economic mobility. We can create collaborative, community-centric models that advance urban, peri-urban and rural food systems for generations to come.
Together, we can change food for good.
Samia Lemfadli is a Brooklyn native and technologist with a deep rooted passion for sustainable agriculture. As an alumni of programs like General Assembly's Web Development Immersive and Platform by Perscholas, she has leveraged her technical and business development skills to improve workforce strategies and advance technical infrastructure for organizations like MIT Civic Media Lab, The Knowledge House , Per Scholas, New York Maritime Innovation Center , Kilimanjaro Initiative USA, and Jobsfirst NYC . Samia has applied her lived experience of the workforce development system to secure more than 300 job placements for program alumni and her community network and remains a fierce advocate for young adult economic mobility. She believes that workforce development and inclusive technology advances can be key levers for self-determination and more resilient communities. She was a 2020 Echoing Green Semi-Finalist, Head of the Steering Committee for NYMIC , Head of the Junior Board for Kilimanjaro Initiative USA and currently serves as Co-Chair for the Yes Bed-Stuy Partnership .
Priya first joined The Urban Wild as an intern and worked on the launch event for the YES Bed Stuy partnership, before joining The Urban Wild team as a Program Coordinator for their Summer 2021 Intro to AgTech cohorts. With her career background in business operations, administration and management, she brings her expertise to assist and work together with the entire team on a path towards success.
As an intern she helped make improvements and additions to our website, as well as, assisted with launching Plot Bot onto the Android app store. Her out-of-the-box thinking is a key quality and has been useful with students as she helps them gain coding and programming skills. She is an alumnus of The Knowledge House's web development and data analytics training courses.