Posts filed under ‘Urban Agriculture’

NYC Start-up Brings Hydroponics to the People

© Photo by Margarida Correia. See caption at bottom of article.

In the vast expanse of barren rooftops that mark this north Brooklyn neighborhood, one stood out far above the rest:  the one atop Bushwick Starr Theatre.  It was the only roof with plants — all happily soil-free, or “hydroponic.”

Rather than soil-filled terracotta pots, the plants grew in trays and tubs attached to tubes that piped in liquid nutrients. Most grew vertically, like the tomatoes and cucumbers climbing the roof fence and onto a trellis.  Others — the bok choy and collard greens, for instance — grew sideways from the side of a wall built from milk crates.

The plants – green and laden with vegetables – seemed at home in the Willie Wonkaesque environment.  Miniature melon-shaped “Mexican sour” cucumbers dangled from plant stems like earrings.  Peppers lounged under the shade of floppy leaves, while the herbs — basil, thyme, sage, parsley — basked in the sun.

The rooftop Eden functions as a lab for Lee Mandell, founder of Boswyck Farms, a start-up business that designs and builds hydroponic growing systems for residents, nonprofits and other small organizations in New York City.  Mandell tests and tinkers with the systems on the roof — as well as those in his loft apartment nearby — to see which ones work best for which plants. (more…)

August 29, 2011 at 2:27 pm Leave a comment

LOCAL FOOD News Roundup

Farmers Markets Grow Despite Bad Economy

If only the economy would grow as rapidly as the nation’s farmers markets.   The number of farmers markets operating throughout the country grew 17%, from 6,132 in 2010 to 7,175 this year.  The results were released in the USDA’s 2011 National Farmers Market Directory.

New York reported 520 markets, ranking second among the nation’s top 10 states with the most farmers markets.  California, with 729 markets, ranked first.

The market listings were submitted to the USDA by market managers on a voluntary, self-reported basis between April 18 and June 24, 2011, as part of the USDA’s annual outreach effort.

Alaska experienced the most growth.  It reported 35 farmers markets, up 46%.  Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico, with 166, 130, and 80 markets, respectively, jumped 38%.

Mayor Bloomberg Signs Local Food Legislation

For the past two years the New York City Council has pushed to make more local food available to New Yorkers.  On Wednesday its efforts paid off:  Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed comprehensive legislation aimed at increasing the production and procurement of local and regional food. (more…)

August 19, 2011 at 2:54 pm Leave a comment

The Rise of the Portable Farm

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© Photos by Margarida Correia. See captions at bottom of article.

Manhattan is not the world’s best place for a restaurant to build a farm.  But Riverpark Restaurant, a new restaurant in Midtown Manhattan, did just that — thanks to an open-minded, eco-conscious landlord and some out-of-the-box thinking.

The 15,000-square-foot farm — located 100 feet from the restaurant at Alexandria Center for Life Science, a new but unfinished biotechnology complex on 29th Street between 1st Avenue and the FDR Drive — is not your typical farm.  It’s portable.  The hundred different crops that grow there — everything from arugula and collard greens to eggplant, zucchini and squash — are raised in thousands of double-stacked milk crates. (more…)

August 13, 2011 at 6:48 pm 1 comment

NYC Rooftop Growers Catch a Break

After years of frustration, urban rooftop farmers now have reason to celebrate.  Last month, the New York City Council passed legislation that will make the lives of rooftop growers a little easier.  The legislation will help both greenhouse farmers and those that grow outdoors on soil-covered roofs. (more…)

August 10, 2011 at 4:17 pm Leave a comment

LOCAL FOOD News Roundup

Local Food Advocates Named to Regional Economic Development Council

Two local food advocates were appointed to Gov. Cuomo’s New York City Regional Economic Development Council:  Marcel Van Ooyen, executive director of GrowNYC, the nonprofit behind the city’s thriving network of Greenmarkets; and Steve Hindy, president of the Brooklyn Brewery.

The New York City Regional Economic Development Council is one of 10 regional councils Gov. Cuomo launched last month to drive local economic development and improve the business climate statewide.  Each council will compete for state funding from a total pot of up to $1 billion in economic development aid. (more…)

August 9, 2011 at 2:25 pm Leave a comment

New York City Council Launches City’s First Workplace CSA

Speaker Quinn

Photo courtesy of William Alastriste of New York City Council

The New York City Council’s lunch room was as much the scene of the action yesterday as the hearing room. Council leaders and staff streamed in to do what they always do on Thursdays during their lunch hour: they picked up their share of fresh fruits and vegetables from Norwich Meadows Farms and Red Jacket Orchards, two upstate farms.

“I never saw a sugarplum that color in my life,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn of the yellow plums that were part of the week’s fruit harvest. Speaker Quinn collected peppers, squash, pole beans and other veggies from bins set up on a table and dropped them into her bag.

She and more than 50 other council members and staff were pioneers of sorts:  They were the initial participants in the city’s first workplace Community-Supported Agriculture or “CSA” program. (more…)

July 29, 2011 at 10:39 pm Leave a comment

Peanut Planting in the Bronx

Drew Gardens in the Bronx

©Photo by Margarida Correia (caption at bottom of post)

A clutch of enthusiastic gardeners — trowels and soil scrapers in hand — readied for the special planting that was about to take place at Drew Gardens in the West Farms neighborhood of the Bronx.  One by one, they squatted by the side of a just-tilled garden bed and began to tuck peanuts into the ground.

Angel Valeri Nogue beamed.  The peanuts, she blurted with pride, were “brought here to New York” from her grandmother’s plantation in West Cameroon.

“I used to stay on my grandmother’s plantation in the springtime for six months to help,” said Nogue, a refugee with the International Rescue Committee, a nonprofit organization that helps resettle refugees, asylees and victims of human trafficking.

Nogue’s face brightened as she recalled childhood memories of her grandmother’s plantation, a refuge from the stresses of city life in Cameroon.  Now Drew Gardens is her refuge. (more…)

July 14, 2011 at 3:42 pm Leave a comment

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