Want to Get Your Hands Dirty? Visit a NYC Urban Farm This Summer.

by Alexina Cather, MPH

No farm? No problem, we’ve got you covered. Take a trip to a New York City urban farm this summer. The following farms increase access to healthy foods, support neighborhood economies, create community, teach youth and adults about farming, food justice, and the environment, and much more.

Battery Urban Farm

Location: The Battery, a public park at the southern tip of Manhattan. The entrance to the vegetable farm is near the historic 4/5 head house along State Street between Bridge and Broadway. The forest farm is located just north of Castle Clinton National Monument between the Castle and Battery Place.

Founded: In 2011 by The Battery Conservancy in partnership with the Environmental Club at Millennium High School

One of the many reasons it’s amazing: The farm is a learning space for children and adults, with programs that teach sustainable farming techniques, cultivate environmental stewardship, and promote the creation of edible gardens.

Farm size: 1 acre

What’s growing: Vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers; the Forest Farm produces fruit trees, berries, mushrooms, flowers for pollination, and medicinal plants

Amount produced annually: 3000 pounds of produce, fruit, herbs, and flowers.

Where to find these products: During the school year, the farm donates its produce to participating public school cafeterias through the NYC Department of Education’s Garden to School Cafe Program; in the summer, food is also donated to their community partner Drive Change for use in their Fellowship Program and Food Truck.

When to visit: Open to the public when the farmers are there and the gate is unlocked, usually between 8am and 4pm on weekdays.

Take the kids: The farm welcomes student field trips; see their website for more information

Online: facebook.com/thebatteryconservancy; IG and Twitter: @thebatterynyc

Eagle Street Rooftop Farm

Location: 44 Eagle Street, Brooklyn (Greenpoint)

Founded: In 2009 as NYC’s first rooftop farm, by Annie Novak and Ben Flanner in partnership with Goode Green and Broadway Stages

One of the many reasons it’s amazing: This farm offers workshops through Novak’s field-to-fork nonprofit, Growing Chefs, which teaches kids and adults about urban farming and green roofs.

Farm size: 6,000 square feet

What’s growing: Vegetables, including chili peppers used in a Brooklyn-based hot sauce and herbs; they also host Brooklyn Honey hives

Amount produced annually: N/A

Where to find these products: At their Sunday Farmers’ Market on-site and at local restaurants within bicycling distance of the farm

When to visit: One Saturday a month. A full list of dates is available on their facebook page.

Take the kids: Workshops and site visits for students (children and adults) are available by appointment; visit their website for more information

Online: Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Hell’s Kitchen Farm Project

Location: Metro Baptist Church Rooftop, 410 West 40th Street, New York, NY (Hell’s Kitchen)

Founded: In 2010, as a collaboration among four neighborhood organizations: the Clinton Housing Development Company, the Metro Baptist Church, the Rauschenbush Metro Ministries, and the Metropolitan Community Church

One of the many reasons it’s amazing: This volunteer-run farm is seeking to create a more food-secure community, and to teach young people about food, farming, and food justice through its Youth Summer Internship Program

Farm size: 4,000 square feet of roof, with 1,000 square feet of raised beds

What’s growing: Herbs, blueberries, and a variety of vegetables, including beans, cabbage, collard greens, garlic, kale, lettuce, potatoes, radishes, scallions, tomatoes, and more

Amount produced annually: 300 to 400 pounds of produce

Where to find these products: Everything grown on the roof is given back to the community free of charge by the Rauschenbush Metro Ministries Food Pantry

When to visit: Open to the public every Thursday and Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm; to visit with a large group, see their website for more information and requested donation amounts

Take the kids: The farm welcomes school groups of all ages; more information is on their website

Online: Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Governors Island Teaching Garden

Location: Governors Island

Founded: 2014

One of the many reasons it’s amazing: GrowNYC’s Teaching Garden is a half-acre urban farm that aims to engage, excite, and educate its visitors in all aspects of urban farming. It offers field trips at the Teaching Garden to NYC students and summer camp participants, giving kids the opportunity to plant, water, harvest, and cook the garden’s wide array of vegetables, herbs, and fruits. Info on registering for field trips can be found at grownyc.org/governors

In addition to scheduled school visits, the garden is open to the public on weekends during the Governors Island open season (May 1-October 31, 2018). GrowNYC’s weekend public programming includes tours, garden- and nutrition-related workshops, and more. The Garden features more than 20 vegetable beds made from recycled plastic, a 1/2 acre small-scale farm, an outdoor kitchen, a large solar oven, a high tunnel greenhouse, fruit trees, several rainwater harvesting systems, a rain garden, and much much more.

Farm size: 28,500 sq feet

What’s growing: Annual and perennial fruits, vegetables, greens, herbs, grains, and flowers.  

Amount produced annually: 4,100 pounds total

Where to find these products: Produce is supplied to some of the restaurants on Governors Island and can also be purchased at the Teaching Garden on weekends from May through October between the hours of 1 and 4 pm.

When to visit: The public is welcomed to drop by on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 4 pm. Schools that are interested in coming to the Teaching Garden for a free weekday field trip an do so by signing up at: grownyc.org/governors

Online: grownyc.org/governors

National Health, Wellness and Learning Center at CS 55

Location: Wakefield, The Bronx

Founded: 2004

One of the many reasons it’s amazing: The center was built by students on a decommissioned city street and grows an incredible quantity of 100 percent organic food!

Farm size: One city block

What’s growing: 4,000 plants, including varieties of eggplant, tomatoes, greens, peppers, and herbs, complete with a butterfly and pollinator zone and 500 sunflowers! Amount produced annually: 5,000 to 6,000 pounds of vegetables.

Where to find these products: In the bellies of Bronxites! 100 percent of the food grown goes to those in need, including Bronx senior citizens living in public housing who are both food insecure and recovering from cancer. The rest goes to the organization, Part of the Solution, where the food is used for workforce development aligned to feeding local families.

When to visit: All summer long–info@greenbronxmachine.org

Take the kids: Children are always welcome!

Online: Facebook

QBG Farm & Compost Site

Location: Queens Botanical Garden43-50 Main Street, Flushing, NY 11355

Founded: Started in 2014, the farm is part of the NYC Compost Project hosted by Queens Botanical Garden and funded by the NYC Department of Sanitation.

One of the many reasons it’s amazing: QBG Farm & Compost is not just a farm – they also turned over 160,000 pounds of food scraps and leaves, collected from residents in Queens, into compost in 2017. Composting recycles the nutrients still in our wasted food. Applying the finished compost to soils in our farm improves our soil health and returns those nutrients to feed new crops. Closing the nutrient cycle is what keeps our bounty growing!

Farm size: Just under one-acre

What’s growing: You name it! Classics like corn, eggplants, peppers, zucchinis, various types of kale, and radishes can be found punctuated by asparagus, rhubarb, and artichoke patches. Herbs and seasonings like ginger, rosemary, lovage, cilantro, and chamomile are planted alongside complementary crops – basil is right beside the tomatoes! Pollinator plants border the length of the farm inviting the birds, the bees, and the beetles to visit the farm too.

Amount produced annually: Around 7000 pounds! They shared 3000 pounds of food with volunteers and donated 2400 pounds to emergency food relief in 2017.

Where to find these products: Herbs, fruits, and veggies are sent home with weekly volunteers and dedicated interns. They also donate produce to emergency food relief.

When to visit: Farm Open Hours are Wednesdays from 3:30-5:00pm, May-October – just drop in! QBG also welcomes weekly volunteers who want to get their hands dirty while composting, planting, harvesting, and weeding. Tours and workshops happen at the QBG Farm & Compost site year-round (check their calendar) and by special request.

Take the kids: Children’s groups are welcome to visit the urban farm. Advanced registration must be made by calling 718-539-5296. Children are welcome to attend any tours open to the public, to stop by the farm during Farm Open Hours, or visit the adjacent compost area which is open during all Garden hours.

Online: https://queensbotanical.org/farmandcompost/our-farm-compost-site/

Queens County Farm Museum

Location: 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Queens (Floral Park)

Founded: The Museum’s farmland dates back to 1697 and is the longest continuously farmed site in New York State. The site is currently owned by the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation and is operated by the Colonial Farmhouse Restoration Society, a nonprofit corporation. ​

One of the many reasons it’s amazing: Don’t let the word “museum” fool you. This is a working farm focused on sustainable agriculture, featuring a greenhouse complex, livestock, planting fields, an orchard, an herb garden, an apiary, ​and historic farm buildings.

Farm size: 47 acres

What’s growing: Vegetables, herbs, flowers, eggs, raw honey, wool from alpacas and Cotswold sheep

Amount produced annually: N/A

Where to find these products: At the on-site farmstand and, starting this winter, at restaurants in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn

When to visit: Open to the public seven days a week; general admission is free except for special  events. To shop the farmers’ market, visit Wednesday through Friday from 11am to 3pm, or on Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 5pm. Individuals can volunteer at the farm Sundays and Tuesdays from 10am to 4pm.

Take the kids: School groups are welcome;, advance reservations are required; see the website for more information.

Online: Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Red Hook Community Farm

Location: 560 Columbia Street, Brooklyn (Red Hook)

Founded: In 2001 by Added Value, a youth-led urban farm and compost operation that hires and mentors young people to run two farms and a farmers market

One of the many reasons it’s amazing: Local teens work as farm apprentices, participating in all aspects of the farm from seed to harvest to sale. They even run weekly cooking workshops to show the community tasty ways to eat what they grow! They compost more than 200 tons of organic waste annually in partnership with the NYC Compost Project hosted by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

What’s growing: Annual vegetables and perennial herbs, including greens, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, leeks, and root vegetables

Farm size: 2.75 acres

Amount produced annually: More than 20,000 pounds of produce from Added Value’s two farms combined.

Where to find these products: At their Saturday farmstand, through their sliding-scale CSA, and at local restaurants and partner organizations;. The farm also donates to a local food pantry and distributes produce to their teen farm apprentices.

When to visit: Open to the public Fridays from 3 to 5 pm and Saturdays from 10 am to 1 pm or during the farmstand’s hours on Saturdays from 10 am to 3 pm from June 16 to November 17 (no market on September 1)

Take the kids: The urban farm welcomes school groups, teen programs, and summer camps; see the website for more information

Online: Follow Added Value on Facebook and Instagram

The Youth Farm

Location: 600 Kingston Avenue, Brooklyn (Prospect Lefferts Gardens)

Founded: In 2011, as a partnership between the High School for Public Service and BK Farmyards

One of the many reasons it’s amazing: The farm is an outdoor classroom and green job incubator, training youth and adults to increase their knowledge of farming and food justice, through the Summer Youth program, the Urban Farm Training Program, and other tours and workshops

Farm size: 1 acre

What’s growing: More than 80 varieties of flowers and 80+ varieties of vegetables, including callaloo, chili peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, bitter melon, kale, and collard greens

Amount produced annually: 10,000 pounds of vegetables and ~20,000 stems of cut flowers

Where to find these products: At their weekly farmers’ market and CSA, and at restaurants in Brooklyn, including Wilma Jean, Nightingale 9, Buttermilk Channel, 61 Local, By Brooklyn, and GRDN; the food is also used in youth education classes

When to visit: Volunteer days with Farmer Kristina & the Youth Tillers (all 10 AM to 1 PM): Saturday August 11th; Sunday August 26th. Volunteer days with Farmer Raffi (all 10 AM to 1 PM): Saturday June 23rd; Sunday July 1st; Saturday July 28th; Saturday September 8th, Sunday September 23rd; Saturday October 13th; Sunday October 21st; Saturday November 3rd; Sunday November 18th.

Please contact Janelle at: janelle@thebrooklyngreenhouse.com for information about farm tours and class visits for preK-12th grade students. If you are interested in bringing a group of 10 or more, please notify their Volunteer Day Coordinator, Raffaella Glasser: raffaella.glasser@werepair.org

Take the kids: The urban farm welcomes scheduled class visits for preK-12th grade students.

Online: Follow them on Facebook and Twitter

Photo Credit: The Battery Conservancy

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