By Francis Roberts and Richard Levine
Urban farming is a pretty hot topic these days. You can get your food fresher, with less energy spent on gasoline for transportation. At one time people were excited to get their food from farmers at the Greenmarket. They came from all of 10 to 50 miles away. Now locavores are excited to take the subway, or even walk to their local farm. One of which is the Red Hook Community Farm located on what was once a disused, dilapidated, playground in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn. A food desert if ever there was one. Now the farm grows 12 tons of produce a year and donates it to food pantries or sells it to local restaurants.
Even Lower Manhattan, surrounded by skyscrapers, and captains of industry has a farm. Small, it only occupies an acre, but it is carved out of Battery Park. Individuals and organizations have plots in the farm where they grow organic produce. It’s also surrounded by a formidable picket fence, created by repurposed bamboo stakes from the brothers Mike and Doug Starns’ Big Bambu installation that attracted crowds at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. No chicken wire fences downtown!!
What an odd little farm. The Hell’s Kitchen Farm Project is located on the roof of a church which is essentially right off the streets leading up to the Lincoln Tunnel. You can’t swim or bathe here despite the kiddie pools, but it is certainly a clever way to get raised beds with a minimum of effort (if you consider carrying, via a bucket brigade, 7 tons of soil up five flights of stairs to the roof a minimum of effort). Staffed only by volunteers and just started this summer, the farm provides produce to two food pantries, one of which is located in the same building (can’t get more local than that).
Impressive is the word for the Brooklyn Grange, which despite its name is not in Brooklyn, but covers the roof of a warehouse building in Long Island City in Queens. Impressive in size, productivity and in the views. The largest commercial farm in the city, it supplies produce to numerous restaurants, as well as having their own farm stand in the building and at Roberta’s restaurant and the Williamsburg Smorgasburg in Brooklyn.
Finally, you can have your own little urban farm. You may not be able to produce tons of produce with daily shipments to restaurants but you can be your own locavore. There are community gardens all over. You just have to stand guard to make sure no one pilfers your crop of ripe, red tomatoes.
Richard Levine and Frances Roberts, of Levine Roberts Photography, are a husband and wife team of photographers covering politics, environmental issues, the economy, business, and social and cultural issues in the Big Apple. See more photos from their collection on Newscom.
Here are some more fun posts of their’s on FocalPoint:
This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 26th, 2011 at 1:20 pm and is filed under Guest Blog. You can follow any comments to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a comment, or trackback from your own site.