Plant Talk

Apprentice Liana Castillo Vicente on Her Experience with Bronx Green-Up

Posted in Environment & Conservation on January 9, 2023, by Liana Castillo Vicente

Liana Castillo Vicente is an Apprentice with Bronx Green-Up at The New York Botanical Garden.

A woman smiles next to a tree with bright pink flowers.

I became an apprentice at Bronx Green-Up so that I could integrate myself into a network of like-minded individuals who care about the Bronx community—especially the youth—and want to be part of creating something positive.

In the past, as a high school student in The Bronx, I often felt that adults could not relate to us, thinking to myself: “Oh Look, here come the people who are going to lecture us; I have too many other problems to think about other than dirt. Do they truly care about what I have going on outside of school? How could they possibly relate? They don’t think we have anything to contribute anyway because they don’t really listen.” I had convinced myself that this was true, so I made it my pursuit to become the voice that is heard and to open my eyes to see what is being done and to be part of changing this narrative.

This past November, at Karol’s Urban Community Farm, I had the privilege to experience a profound moment. Urban farm and community garden leaders were gathering to discuss what choices must be made for the betterment of youth in the urban economy. Given my earlier exposure to urban farming in the Bronx, it was very heartfelt and moving to be a part of the discussion that I had believed no one cared to have; with clear conviction, there was a call for more channels of opportunities for youth who, like me, are compelled to hone in their search of becoming part of a community of farmers, land stewards, and leaders. The phrase “youth have voices, and they want to be heard” rang in my mind since that day. Until that very moment, I had not been exposed to so many individuals who see youth in the way that we see ourselves.

What has been great about becoming embraced by this community is the exposure to minds and leaders who gather to strategize revolutionary concepts surrounding the topic of interconnected links between community, wellness, and ecological benefits. As an apprentice, I saw my strengths and capabilities were recognized. I was also able to explore new ideas and understand and develop the skills needed to share the wealth of information bestowed onto me. With this information, I hope to create opportunities for youth in urban agriculture to explore leadership, such as the apprenticeship I experienced with Bronx Green-Up.

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