• WATER SCARCITY

    By 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will be in a water
    scarce state globally.

    By implementing closed loop agriculture systems,
    we can use 90% less water
    to grow our food.

  • FOOD SECURITY

    Monocultures have left our soil depleted, riddled with
    pesticides, and 12% of the population in a food
    insecure state.

    We must make sustainable agriculture systems
    more accessible, safe, and sufficient.

  • AG-TECH EDUCATION

    It's time to re-think our food systems. Locally and globally,
    our systems are costly, unjust, and unsustainable.

    By making agricultural technology more accessible to
    underserved communities,we can educate & empower
    populations that otherwise, would be vulnerable
    to the impacts of are outdated
    food infrastructure.

Our Mission

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.

Our Vision

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.

The Future of Food

Our current food infrastructure's fragility is leading us toward a food crisis. We've identified 3 main drivers of this systemic issue:

Climate Crisis

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.

Workforce Gaps

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.

Food Access

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.

Our Approach

Free Job Training Programs

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.

Community Farm Development

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.

Accessible Technology Solutions

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.

Employer Partner Network

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.

Why We Started

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.

Meet Our Team

Samia Lemfadli

CEO & Founder

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 .

Deneisha Thompson

Board Chair

A social worker turned entrepreneur, Deneisha is a consultant who specializes in change management, partnership development, & group facilitation. Deneisha helps to build cross-sector networks and partnerships in communities with high rates of poverty & works with her clients to develop anti-racist practices as well as improve diversity, equity & inclusion for their staff and stakeholders.

Jeffrey Deasy

Board Treasurer

Jeff has more than 20 years of experience in the field of economic development, small business development, finance, and corporate governance. Jeff is currently providing support to entrepreneurs, including worker-owned cooperatives, and social ventures nationwide on behalf of the Business Outreach Center Network.

Kai Lin Zhang

Board Member

Kai Lin Zhang is a software developer, community organizer, and plant-lover, who volunteers with GrowNYC & the NYC Parks street tree stewardship program. Her passion for economic, racial, & environmental justice led by & for communities of color drove her to join TUW's work in food security. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the New York State Assembly Asian Pacific American Task Force.

Joe Carrano

Board Secretary

Joe Carrano is a Brooklyn native, technology consultant, and the Co-Founder of The Knowledge House a free tech workforce program serving low income New Yorkers, connecting them to skilled jobs in tech. He has been a long time supporter of The Urban Wild's mission & mentor to TUW's Founder, Samia Lemfadli.

Steven Jeanty

Board Member

Steven Jeanty is a Horticulturist with more than 4 years of experience supporting commercial and community farms in New York & New Jersey. He earned a Bachelor's degree in Plant Sciences, and this fall he will be earning a Master's degree in Global Agriculture. His combined passion for urban agriculture and expertise in controlled environment agriculture compelled him to join TUW’s board and contribute to their agriculture projects and programs.

Priya Deolall

Program Coordinator

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.

Anthony Farciert

Web Developer

As a high school student, Anthony learned to use Adobe illustrator and photoshop, got ACA certified, and taught himself web development fundamentals. He has since interned with The Knowledge House as a Web Developer and passed their progressive Web Development Immersive course where he gained proficiency in React.js and Node.js.

Caleb Raff

Agriculture Instructor

Caleb Raff is a NYC based hydroponicist, consultant, and educator. His passion for agriculture has been blooming since childhood, and has been working in soilless agriculture for the last five years. Currently, he is the Farm Manager and Agriculture Instructor at The Institute of Culinary Education, and he also works with various stakeholders to design, operate, and optimize indoor growing spaces.

Malcolm Holliday

Technical Instructor

Is a highly proficient full stack developer with a personal passion for teaching. Formerly a dance instructor for local community centers, he began his tech journey 5 years ago and has since served as the lead developer on projects with MIT, 718 Digital, Trinity Tech Solutions, Unioncrate, and more.

Valencia Starr

Teaching Assistant

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.

Our Recent Achievements

Echoing Green 2020 Climate Fellowship Semi Finalist

Victoria’s Secret Pink GRL PWR Project 2020 Honorable Mention

Co-Chair for the Yes! Bed-Stuy Partnership

Black Girl Ventures 2018 & 2019 Pitch Competition Finalist

1010 Wins Small Business Pitch Competition Finalist 2019

Impact Ventures Accelerator Pitch Competition Finalist 2019