One thing that has given my life meaning is helping others. Being able to extend the helping hand I needed growing up gives me peace, and keeps me grounded. It is for this reason that I created APIARY IN THE SKY, LLC, which is an organization that uses beekeeping to transform the environment of the city landscape. Hopefully, to reclaim our narrative from one of neglect and systemic decrepitude to one of health, opportunity, and prosperity.
What is Apiary in the Sky?
Apiary in the Sky was established to confront quality of life concerns in the categories of health/wellness, racial equity/representation, and environmental justice. These areas of focus include (but are not limited to) risk factors like: contaminated water/soil, gentrification, rapid pollution, food insecurity, poor air quality, educational depravity, and environmental neglect.
AITS was formed in light of many socioeconomic challenges that have been amplified by the unprecedented spread of the Coronavirus. With a collective reckoning sweeping across the country, as a result of countless tragedies against Black and Brown folks, we must prioritize the mental, emotional, and physical health of our communities to weather the storms of uncertainty.
Three Main Considerations:
1) Environmental Injustice
AITS intends to use beekeeping, farming, advocacy, and art to activate underutilized land in the City of Newark. Through purchasing and developing property, we will work with residents and city departments to reconsider how sustainability is being factored into urban infrastructure. This includes tackling issues relating to:
- Water, soil, and air contamination
- Food desert (lack of access to quality food options)
- Sustainability efforts perceived as optional (such as renewable energy sources)
- Insufficient wildlife conversation
2) Land Access
Newark, NJ is a place of great significance as one of the legacy cities and major port destinations that helped forge this country's economy. Rightfully, Newark is a hub that attracts vibrant cultures, business owners, artists, and institutions. Yet, despite the growing investment in the City, many residents have lived in substandard conditions brought on by years of systemic neglect.
- Around 78% of Newark's population are renters
- Racial equity is a nonfactor amidst rapid gentrification throughout the city
- Long-standing exploitation from developers and property owners
3) Lack of Representation
In a 2017 report conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture, researchers found that black farmers account for a discouraging 1.4% of agriculture in the US, See Black Farmer Stats. Within that population, the number of black beekeepers is even smaller. It is vital that we invest in the education, health, and wellbeing of African American people who are disproportionately targeted by our healthcare and justice systems.
Budget & Expenses
The $500,000 raised through this crowdfunding campaign will be used to:
- Purchase/develop properties and spaces in the City for urban beekeeping and farming (including current active gardens)
- Build the internal capacity of the organization by hiring staff and acquiring a storefront
- Staff and volunteer stipends
- Partner with local institutions to support green space innovation and environmental advocacy
- Small grant/stewardship program exclusively for Newark residents
- Interactive programming ranging across different fields of study like: vegetarian cooking classes, gardening/farming, natural science, water/soil testing, black history, food/tech entrepreneurship, community clean ups, youth leadership, and opportunities for employment.
- Purchase building materials, tools, and insurance
- Emiko Johnson
- John Mcgrath
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