I said goodbye to West Virginia after 6 wonderful weeks and, after getting stranded at the train station out there, the next leg of my adventure started by hitching a ride back to D.C., and then hopping a bus for $9.50 to my next stop: New York City.
Just a slight change of scenery.
Arriving in NYC was surreal. Once you’re in this city, you’re undeniably in this city. One hint is all the effing people. I am always blown away by how this city functions and runs non-stop with so many people living in it. It’s fascinating. There are skyscrapers as far as the eye can see, constant activity on the streets, and dope street performers in the subway stations.
Another clue upon my arrival that I was far from the apple orchards of West Virginia were things like finding myself on a bench next to a crazy Rastafarian preaching to no one, seeing a man carrying a live turtle onto the subway, and having my waitress at a sushi restaurant apologize for the delay but she was “just feeling loopy from the five saki shots” she had just taken. These things can only happen together in the span of 24 hours in New York!
I have been discovering the hidden gems of the city though and I am in love with these neighborhoods already. In an effort to get in as much varied farming experience as possible before the growing season ends for the year, I came here to learn and work with a few different urban farms in Brooklyn for the next two months.
One farm, run by Added-Value, is in a neighborhood of Brooklyn called Red Hook, which used to be the main shipping port for New York. This farm takes up about 3 acres directly across from the city’s giant Ikea, and is growing amazing produce for a local market, CSA and brings in local high school kids for youth empowerment and education.
Another farm is in a very low-income neighborhood of Brooklyn called East New York. East New York Farms! has a strong community and youth-focused program with a community-run market, educational workshops and support for the 60 community gardeners in the neighborhood (more than any neighborhood in all of NYC). This is where I will be spending the majority of my time!
The last farm I will be working with is called Eagle Street Rooftop Farm and is in a yuppy/hipster neighborhood of Brooklyn called Greenpoint. They are setting a good example of green roofing though and are growing food for some local restaurants and local community members. They also have an educational program as well, and the sweetest view of the city I have seen yet.
I will miss the quiet and beauty of the country, but so far I am already finding that peace and serenity by doing yoga in the park in the middle of Manhattan with hundreds of new yorkers, and finding beauty in the farmer’s markets of Harlem, the cultural festivals of Brooklyn, and the youth gardens of East New York.