Posts tagged ‘urban farming’

LOCAL FOOD News Roundup

Riverpark Farm

© Photo courtesy of Riverpark Farm. See caption at bottom of article.

Farm Table Opens amid Urban Farm Fields

Riverpark Restaurant, a tony new restaurant off the FDR Drive in Midtown Manhattan, added a new twist to urban farming when it unveiled a novel outdoor growing operation that surprised even the most jaded New Yorkers.  Peppers, eggplants, tomatoes and a multitude of other crops grew in thousands of double-stacked milk crates, the urban equivalent of farm fields.

Now diners can enjoy those fields close up.  Riverpark Restaurant set up an outdoor “Farm Table,” which customers can reserve for family-style lunch and dinner celebrations.  The restaurant can host up to 12 people at the outdoor table.  There’s a minimum charge of $1,800 for dinner events.  For lunch, it’s $1,400. (more…)

October 12, 2011 at 8:53 pm Leave a comment

Heritage Farm at Snug Harbor Plants First Cover Crops

Snug Harbor Heritage Farm

© Photo courtesy of Farm City blog. See photo at bottom of article.

Staten Island’s Snug Harbor Heritage Farm had planned it for years.  Last month, it finally happened.  A one-acre field was tilled and covered with winter rye, hairy vetch and field peas and oats, marking the farm’s first official planting.

It was probably the longest-planned — or rather longest-delayed — planting ever, but Gus Jones, the farm’s newly hired full-time farm manager, wasn’t at all surprised.

The land was last used for agriculture 50 years ago, when cows grazed there, Jones explained.  The forest had to be cleared, trees chopped and tree stumps removed.  And compost — 1,000 cubic yards of it — had to be brought in.  (more…)

October 3, 2011 at 3:50 pm 2 comments

2011 NYC Urban Ag: A Nine-Month Review

The urban agriculture movement in New York City has made enormous progress this year.  New legislation favoring urban farming was introduced.  New farms opened.  There’s even a new farm school.  It all happened within the last nine months, all of it summarized here.  (more…)

September 30, 2011 at 2:37 pm 1 comment

Urban Farm Builds Roots at Battery Park

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

The temporary one-acre urban farm that opened in April at the Battery is not so temporary anymore.  It will shift to a new location in the park when a planned bike path comes through in 2012, said Warrie Price, founder of the Battery Conservancy, a non-profit dedicated to revitalizing the Battery at the tip of Manhattan.

“It’s been too much of a great positive thing for the neighborhood and for us as an organization,” she said as she made her rounds amid rows of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, beans and a riot of other crops on Saturday.

Since it opened, the farm has received a great deal of media attention with Inhabitat New York City naming it one of the city’s top five urban farms. It’s been a hit with neighborhood school children, Lower Manhattan residents and local community groups who “adopted” or planted half of the 100-plus vegetable beds.  It also drew hundreds of volunteers eager to help the Battery run the operation.

“This is a dream come true,” said the farm’s manager Camilla Hammer, as a bevy of volunteers swirled around her with shovels, rakes and wheelbarrows. (more…)

September 14, 2011 at 2:26 pm 1 comment

BrightFarms to Build Nation’s Largest Rooftop Greenhouse in Long Island City

BrightFarms, a Manhattan-based company that designs, builds and operates hydroponic rooftop greenhouses for others, is planning to build one for itself.  The company will build a 25,000-square-foot greenhouse on top of a building near LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, according to an article in the New York Daily News. The facility — slated for completion by March of next year — is expected to produce 200,000 pounds of fresh produce annually for the local markets.  If built as planned, the hydroponic greenhouse will be the largest in the country.

In an interview with New York Bounty in July, BrightFarms discussed its plans for marketing rooftop greenhouses to supermarkets.  The company was in talks with a dozen national supermarket chains, eight of which had signed up for the facilities.

BrightFarms will move its headquarters to the Long Island City rooftop location.  It will build a 7,000-square-foot office space on the 32,000-square-foot roof it plans to lease.

September 6, 2011 at 4:22 pm Leave a 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

Hearing on NYC Food Bills Draws Scores of Supporters, Few Critics

New Yorkers showed overwhelming support for two food-related bills at a public hearing convened last month by the New York City Council Governmental Affairs Division.  The proposed bills back recommendations in a plan to revamp the city’s food system and make local and regional food more available to New Yorkers.  The plan was outlined in an 86-page report, FoodWorks, released by NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn last year.

One of the proposed bills would require city agencies (more…)

July 6, 2011 at 2:39 pm Leave a comment

Proposal for Stepped-Up Urban Farming in the South Bronx

There’s no doubt that the rooftop greenhouse that Gotham Greens recently opened in Brooklyn breaks new ground on New York City’s urban farm frontier.  But a proposal for a greenhouse operation more than three times the size of Gotham Greens may make it seem like old news.

The proposal — submitted by two developers to the New York City Economic Development Corp. to revitalize a 2.4-acre industrial site in the Bathgate section of the South Bronx — calls for the construction of three large-scale rooftop hydroponic greenhouses that will occupy 50,000 square feet of the approximate 200,000-square-foot proposed build-out plan.  The greenhouses will sit on top of industrial loft-type buildings, which will grow and process vegetables using aeroponics, a technology where food grows in  a mist.  The aeroponically-grown vegetables will be under LED lights, 24/7.   (more…)

May 11, 2011 at 6:30 pm Leave a comment

Seeds Sown to Grow Urban Farming Education in NYC

Aspiring urban farmers may soon be able to learn the farming skills they need without ever having to leave the city.  This month a New York City-based farm school offering instruction in sustainable agriculture will open its doors to its first 20 students.  Farm School NYC — the effort of food advocacy group Just Food and an alliance of local horticultural and food justice organizations — will offer a two-year certificate program that covers everything from growing techniques to marketing and community organizing.

“The mission of the school is to provide comprehensive professional training in urban agriculture, while spurring positive local action on issues of food access and social, economic and racial justice,” said Just Food in a press release.

Getting into the school or a class won’t be easy.  Just Food received more than 200 applications for the 20 spots available, said Eric Thomann, co-interim director of Farm School NYC.  The school, which has 15 slots for certificate students and five for non-certificate students, is open to adults of all educational backgrounds and income levels.

Future urban farmers need not despair.  Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn will also introduce an urban farming program in 2011.  The college will have a full-fledged farm on its 70-acre Manhattan Beach campus that will be planted by student volunteers this spring.  Dr. Stuart Schulman, the Kingsborough professor in charge of the program, expects to have a formal curriculum developed by fall 2011.

Kingsborough students will be able to take farming classes as an elective.  And non-matriculated students might get a chance to work on the farm and learn about farming in the future, possibly through a continuing education program.

One school — John Bowne High School in Flushing, Queens — has been educating students about agriculture long before farming became fashionable. The school’s agriculture program dates back to 1917.  The John Bowne Aggies — as students of the school are known — work on a four-acre farm that in addition to an orchard and field crops includes a poultry house, animal barn and greenhouse.

Years ago, John Bowne had an adult education program that made it possible for the public to take farming classes, said Steve Perry, assistant principal of the school’s agriculture program.  But the program ended.

Any chance the school might bring it back?

“I wish we could,” said Perry, a wistfulness creeping into his voice.  “There’s no allotment for it in the budget.”

January 5, 2011 at 2:39 am Leave a comment

Grants for Gardens in Our Own Backyards

Photo credit: Jimmy Johnson. Bees at work at the Narrows Botanical Gardens. Funding for two hives was secured through the IOBY microphilanthropy site.

Photo credit: Jimmy Johnson. The hives are located in the Narrows’ Zen Garden for Peace.

Newly graduated from a beekeeping course, Jimmy Johnson was pumped up and ready to introduce beehives to the Narrows Botanical Gardens, a 4.5-acre community garden he co-founded 15 years ago in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.  Bees would help pollinate the garden and its new, nearly 2,000-square-foot vegetable plot.

The problem, though, was funding.  Johnson and his network of volunteers had neither the time or the skills to search for and solicit a grant to cover the cost of the hives, estimated at $822.

Enter IOBY, a new online fund-raising platform for New York City environmental projects under $3,000. Within a month of putting in a request for a grant, Johnson’s project was funded.

“They were wonderful to work with,” said Johnson, a landscape designer, of IOBY.  “They’re the middle man between the person digging the hole and the community.”

For tiny non-profits and volunteers groups doing environmental work in New York City, IOBY offers an easy way to tap donors directly for support.  Built on the belief that environmental action begins on the “streets and sidewalks of New York City,” the microphilanthropy site connects under-the-radar neighborhood environmental groups to donors and volunteers.

“IOBY is designed to support neighborhood groups,” said IOBY executive director and co-founder Erin Barnes, adding that one in three environmental stewardship groups in New York City is operating on volunteer support, according to a recent survey conducted by the USDA’s Forest Service.

Since it launched in May 2009, IOBY – which stands for “In Our Own Backyards” — has raised money for 34 projects, half of them inside community gardens.  Many of the projects have related to food and urban farming.

Projects posted on IOBY receive grant money only if fully funded by donors.  If they are not fully funded within seven months, the projects expire.

Kate Gilliam, founder and director of Trees Not Trash!, a group that transforms empty lots in Bushwick, Brooklyn, into green spaces, turned to IOBY to fund a project.

She received a $1,150 grant to transform the unused 1,500-square-foot space behind the Bushwick Public Library into a garden. The grant covered tools, building supplies and garden materials, such as soil, plants, garbage bags and gloves.

“The garden is designed in such a way that there will be space for growing vegetables, space for educational purposes, places for having lunch, and space for just sitting and reading a book,” said Gilliam in an e-mail statement.

Trees Not Trash! plans to plant tomatoes, peppers, melons, cucumber and leafy greens in the planter beds it constructed out of reclaimed lumber.  The library garden is the group’s fourth garden space. Its flagship garden is on Bogart and McKibbin Streets, which was once an abandoned plot that was being used as a garbage dump.

The Narrows Botanical Gardens is also planning ahead for the new growing season and hoping to install more hives.  “The community flipped out with the honey,” said Johnson of the initial hives funded through IOBY platform.  The 100 pounds of honey produced disappeared almost immediately once it was offered to the public

Johnson is planning to go to IOBY for another round of funding.  “Two hives,” he said, “are not enough for 4.5 acres.”

December 12, 2010 at 11:08 pm Leave a comment

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