When Gallatin junior Eric Fuchs-Stengel transferred to NYU in 2011, he realized how many people shared his interest in organic agriculture. But he wanted to turn those passions into
“There was just a lot of people kind of talking about it,” Fuchs-Stengel said. “And not many people actually getting their hands dirty doing it.”
Then Fuchs-Stengel had an idea: He would start a non-profit that aims to empower and educate local communities by helping people build and grow their own sustainable farms.
In high school, Fuchs-Stengel and his friends founded Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization, a not-for-profit group committed to environmentally conscious agriculture. After coming to NYU, he decided to start an initiative under the aegis of MEVO, instead of creating a club. Fuchs-Stengel said this approach would allow the organization to grow larger.
Interest in his idea was abundant. Farm to Live became a reality, started by NYU students to support sustainable agriculture by building their own farms.
“I found a group of people, [and what] started out as one, two and became [about 20] people, coming to meetings in my dorm room about this idea,” Fuchs-Stengel said.
Even with the number of interested members, Farm to Live was not easy to start. In September 2011, Fuchs-Stengel and Farm to Live applied for the 2011-2012 NYU Reynolds Changemaker Challenge, a social entrepreneurship competition. It took about seven months of negotiations until Farm to Live received $1,000 to use for purchasing seeds. With the grant and additional donated materials, the club managed to start three farms in New Jersey. The club’s next goal is to expand their operations, introduce more farming opportunities for its members and find more members to take part in its new project, including building a rooftop farm in TriBeCa.
“When I was in high school, I got involved in MEVO,” said Gallatin freshman Emma Spett, one of Farm to Live’s newest members. “And I guess Farm to Live was just growing that [interest].”
Fuchs-Stengel is optimistic about his organization’s future.
“We seem to have this momentum at NYU,” he said. “And all these NYU kids involved, we want to grow that local base even more.”
For more information, visit their website at mevoearth.org/farmtolive.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 18 print edition. Howard Lee is a contributing writer. Email him at [email protected]