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Posts Tagged ‘urban farms’

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.

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I just finished a pretty quirky book about a girl from Washington (state not district) that moves to Oakland and rents an apartment on the “2-8”, a street that was known for gunfights, crack dealers and homeless camps, and starts growing food on an abandoned lot.

The book, Farm City by Novella Carpenter is a true story of Novella’s adventures in urban farming. She starts with growing veggies on the abandoned lot, then gets chickens, then bees, then turkeys, ducks and rabbits, and finally two huge pigs.

The book was kinda funny and I learned a bit about raising farm animals to produce meat. But something didn’t sit right with me as far as her intentions for doing it. She was aware of the problems in her neighborhood and that her urban farm project could benefit others, and she did give some lettuce to local Black Panthers and shared food with neighbors. But I kept wondering why she didn’t do more.  I know not everyone has a humanitarian streak and everyone deserves the right to just do for themselves; to learn and experiment.  But I couldn’t help but think that she was missing a big point of the work that she was doing.

She had the opportunity to teach, share more, partner up with organizations in her neighborhood that are fighting for food justice and health. And yet her intentions seemed so centered around herself.

I hate to be so hard on her. And maybe I am missing the point. After all, she did publish this book about her experience, and although her intentions for publishing the book may not have been much more than getting all those quirky stories down, she is adding to the urban food voice and educating people like me on raising turkeys, bees and pigs, so I can’t hold it against her too much.

Thanks to Ouida for giving me this book as a gift before I left DC!!

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