farm or three ring circus? maybe both

posted March 27, 2017

BK Grange LIC (1)

Greenhorns correspondent Julia Caruso spoke with Anastasia Cole Plakias of Brooklyn Grange about the farmer’s perspective on the relationships between urban and rural farms and Brooklyn Grange’s biggest challenge.

It is undeniable that real estate is skyrocketing in metropolitan areas with New York City arguably leading the pack. City dwellers are being pushed out, businesses are being forced to move, and urban farmers’ creativity is being tested. That’s why when Anastasia Cole Plakias, Ben Flanner, and Gwen Schantz, co-founders of Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm were looking to purchase land in New York City in 2010, they looked up towards the sky.

Brooklyn Grange began as the largest rooftop soil farm in the world with one-acre of land atop a commercial building in Long Island City. They broke even their first year and two years later they expanded and purchased 2.5 acres of rooftop space above the Brooklyn Navy Yard on a 20-year lease. Anastasia, VP of Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm, said that the only way they could be fiscally responsible and create a replicable and scalable urban farm, was by purchasing land closer to the sun. But even with their success it is becoming exceedingly difficult to sustain.

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island farm oasis in the middle of NYC

posted February 28, 2017

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Here’s an island you’d be down-right lucky to get ship-wrecked on! Greenhorns correspondent Julia Caruso spoke recently with Gabrielle Hayes, the Farm Coordinator at GrowNYC’s urban educational farm, Governors Island Teaching Garden, about the rewards and challenges of educational urban farming and– an idea we especially love– the need for and incredible potential of fostering active relationships between urban and rural farmers. 

Farming and Teaching Against the New York City Skyline
A Walk Through the Governor’s Island Teaching Garden
by Julia Caruso

GrowNYC is an environmental organization most well-known for operating Greenmarket, 52 farmers’ markets around the city, also works actively throughout the city to build community and school garden where they promote hands-on horticulture education for all ages. One such garden, the Governors Island Teaching Garden, is a working urban farm in its fourth year as part of the GrowNYC organization. In a single growing season, April to October, with a half-acre of land they grow 100+ crops and teach 5,000 students between grades K-12 the process and importance of growing and consuming whole foods.

The mission of Teaching Garden is to teach the value of healthy eating, how to grow and use productive green spaces to be better stewards of the environment, and to make sure students always leaving having had a positive experience with nature.

 “Urbanization is making us all extremely disconnected from what we eat,” she said, “we need more educational farms.”

Though visitors are at the mercy of the hourly Governors Island ferry schedule, the planning and traveling is worth it. The reward for the journey can be immediate; some students exclaim that the ferry is their first time on a boat! Taking the ferry and walking around the island gives visitor a fresh perspective of the Concrete Jungle, a closer look at the Statue of Liberty, and a chance to experience food from seed to mouth.

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Gabrielle chose to farm in an urban environment instead of rural because she loves the opportunity to interact and educate the next generation. (The balance between living in a city and escaping it 5x weekly on the island helps to). She is able to create lessons that vary from healthy eating and growing crops, to food justice and ethnobotany, depending on the grade level of the kids.

The Teaching Garden is a wonderful resource for public school children; especially those underprivileged and undernourished as it can open their eyes to food beyond processed and packaged calories. The biggest problem, Gabrielle says, is that with a staff of only two full-time and three seasonal part-time employees, they can only accommodate 100 students a day, three days a week. Many teachers ask to bring their students again, but Teaching Garden cannot accommodate repeat visitors. This is where you lovely rural farmers come in!

Gabrielle would love to see more partnerships between rural and urban farms. “Urbanization is making us all extremely disconnected from what we eat,” she said, “we need more educational farms.”

More and more people do not know where their food comes from. Seeing a “real life farm,” as she put it, might further inspire children to care more about the environment and eating whole, nourishing foods. A school could explore an urban farm and then travel out of the city to see how a large acreage farm operates and how the principals of small urban farming translate. “Urban farms and farmers and rural farms and farmers are very disconnected,” Gabrielle lamented. She believes that the more kids can be exposed to farming, the more they’ll want to be a part of it.

In a nonchalant manner Gabrielle concluded our discussion, “I think it’s [Teaching Garden] the coolest place in New York City.”

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foodbargehack: planning a new food waterway

posted March 5, 2016

Sunday March 13th at the 2016 Just Food Conference
New York City

The FoodBargeHack is a brainstorming and educational event sponsored by the Lower Hudson Long Island Resource Conservation & Development Council (LHLIRCD), bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders and passionate participants. We seek experts in transportation logistics, food distribution, agricultural product aggregation, food hubs, sustainable technologies and/or regional food systems.

Join us at the 2016 Just Food Conference on Sunday March 13th, where we will host two campaign action sessions with the goal of planting the seeds for a new food waterway.

Together, we will envision an energy efficient, sustainable regional food transportation system via our state’s waterways. We will focus on how to connect mid-sized upstate farmers with underserved NYC neighborhoods using a barge on the Hudson River, and challenge the status quo. With your help, we will achieve a viable alternative to food filled trucks on our roads.
Just Food is an incredible NYC based non-profit that supports community leaders to advocate for and increase access to healthy, locally-grown food, especially in underserved NYC neighborhoods. Every year, in addition to producing an expansive, educational and empowering food conference, Just Food connects a quarter million New Yorkers to fresh food in their neighborhood through its network of community food projects.


596 acres

posted March 22, 2014

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596 Acres.org
This map shows sites of potential community projects. We have taken several different sources of information about vacant publicly owned land, chosen the most accurate information from each and shared them here. This is our commons. We also add few private lots whose owners have volunteered their land for community use.

Tools for Land Access Advocacy +Local Community Land Access Campaign Support in NYC
Tools for Community Land Access Advocates

We’re creating a practice of building online tools neighbors can use to clear hurdles to community land access. The tools turn city data into information about particular pieces of land and connect people to one another through simple social networking functions. (more…)


rural route film fest needs your help!!

posted July 21, 2013

Rural Route needs a bit more help to make this year’s film fest happen! Please, if you can, check out their indiegogo page and support this amazing event.

ALSO, YOU SHOULD ATTEND THE FESTIVAL!! July 27 and August 1-4, 2013!!  

from their indiegogo page:

We don’t have the backing of larger organizations, and this year, more than ever, we’re finding huge increases in operational expenses and fees across the board.  We need your help to keep at it with our unique, important work!

Rural Route’s film fest was established in 2003 to create a platform for artists’ work that focuses on unique people and cultures outside the bustle of the city.  Every year our program covers a wide spectrum of local and global content, giving audiences a window into one-of-a-kind worlds, and highlighting subjects often ignored by the mainstream medi, often lost in other festivals.  Our content tackles some of the most important topics of the day within the slow food movement, global warming/environmental arena, and life sustainability symposium.

We are known for screening new, cutting edge indie films that are hard to see anywhere else, such as Now, Forager:  a relationship drama about a New Jersey mushroom-hunting couple, and Truck Farm:  a whimsical documentary that explores issues in urban agriculture and sustainability…  Global diversity is essential to Rural Route’s programming as well – this year we have 28 films from 13 countries on 5 continents!  We also give utmost respect to short films, archival film, and film as an artform!

We need to reach a certain level just to cover these operating expenses, but we hope to go above and beyond that to put together something fantastic, making the best of our awesome opportunities through incredible venues such as Brooklyn Grange’s flagship rooftop farm overlooking the Manhattan skyline in Long Island City.  We also have a new outlet for live music and onsite food via the Museum of the Moving Image’s new outdoor courtyard, and the chance to have special guests for you to interact with for our amazing new films from Chile, Kazakhstan, Senegal, China, and New Jersey.  We can also add to special retro/restoration programs, such as this year’s tribute to the late Les Blank, and a screening of a new DCP restoration of Werner Herzog’s “Fitzcarraldo”.


greenhorns screening in NYC

posted March 23, 2013

 

greenhornsThe Greenhorns 
WHEN: Thursday March 28th
WHERE: 767 Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY

 

Please join us for a screening of THE GREENHORNS, a documentary about young farmers in America. Panel discussion to follow the movie, featuring representatives from the Brooklyn Grange, the Urban Farm at Battery Park, The Fort Greene Park Vegetable Garden, and Greene Grape Provisions. Beer and wine from The Greene Grape will be available for sale as well. We hope to see you at this one-night tribute to sustainable farming, and to Fort Greene’s contribution to a healthier local food system!

 

Admission is $7; all ticket sales benefit the Fort Greene Park Vegetable Garden.

7:00 pm Doors
7:30 pm THE GREENHORNS
8:30 pm Panel Discussion
9:00 pm Drinks and Conversation

PANELISTS:

 


Youth Forum & Expo

posted April 13, 2009

Here’s another important event in New York City.

Youth Forum & Expo: Food, Farming and Active Living
April 16, 2009 | Hostos Community College | NYC

This one-of-a-kind event is a full-day conference planned with and for NYC youth leaders, their mentors and allies who are engaged in health, wellness and sustainability. Gather with us on April 16th for a forum of youth-led workshops and an expo of organizations and businesses offering education and career opportunities. The day will feature hands-on cooking and gardening; performances and a gallery of your photos, videos and words; and more!

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