Monthly Archives: April 2010

Boswyck Farms Rocks NYC Grows

We like to give a big thanks to NYC Grows for inviting us to participate in this year’s festival. A huge event that marked the end of Earth Week celebrations in the city, it drew urban farmers, community gardeners, eco-crafters, sustainable technology creators, chickens(!) and more.

The day dawned with a torrential downpour–the gutters ran with deep streams of water, Union Square was a giant puddle. Nevertheless, Lee and Chloë packed up the clown car with our mobile kitchen cart, tubes, buckets, pumps and plants. With a table strapped to the roof they drove from Bushwick to meet Joanna for what turned out to be a great day, despite the deluge.

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To be honest, the weather about killed our excitement. With rain pouring off the roof of our tent, we wondered–with the slightest hint of irony–if it was necessary to find water to fill our hydroponic systems. We decided it was and as Joanna went off with buckets she heard it remarked more than once, “Why is that woman looking for water?”

Late morning brought a surprising twist of fate. The sky became less ominous and the rains let up. By noon we had people swinging by our tent to see what was happening. We had several homemade demo systems on display. We set up our large NFT system in the front of the tent. Our aeroponics system was going strong and a huge, hot pepper plant was growing in our drip system. (We grow all our plants from heirloom seeds.) People were psyched as Lee and Chloë explained the beauty and relative simplicity of home hydroponics. We’re pretty confident we won some converts.

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The other big seller was our free “build your own passive hydroponic system” workshops run by Joanna. Made from recycled soda bottles, gaffers tape and cotton rope these systems are a perfect way to introduce hydroponics. (We often use them in our school programs.) We originally envisioned the workshop to be for kids but it turned out that lots of adults wanted in on the action. Approximately 30 soda bottle systems were built and planted with basil. People also left with a package of nutrients and Chloë’s Boswyck Farms pesto recipe.

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The only downside of the day was that we weren’t able to break out our one-of-a-kind mobile kitchen cart. It was just too wet to have people kneeling on the ground to make farm fresh pesto.

All in all we had a fabulous time. We hope to get the chance to participate in next year’s NYC Grows. In the meantime, keep checking back to see what we’re up to.

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Boswyck Farms at the Urban Wilderness Action Center

Saturday March 20th was Eyebeam’s (eyebeam.org) Urban Wilderness Action Center — a day of events promoting guerrilla gardening, materials reuse, and food production. UWAC was produced in conjunction with Electrosmog, an international festival that introduced and explored the concept of “Sustainable Immobility”: a critique of current systems of hyper mobility of people and products in travel and transport, and their ecological unsustainability. Electrosmog took place more or less simultaneously in New York, London, Berlin, and Amsterdam.

Boswyck Farms took the two-pronged approach: stationary, and mobile. Lee and Joanna set up a hydroponic teaching table inside Eyebeam, where they demonstrated four of our systems: an aeroponic system, a drip system, a nutrient film technique system, and a passive system. In addition to the showcase of set-ups, they also handed out information about Boswyck Farms’ educational programs and general mission.

UWAC Day was also the premiere of our Mobile Kitchen Unit (MKU): a Radio Flyer wagon retrofitted to be a semi-autonomous picnic kitchen. Currently, the MKU is equipped with (almost) all of the materials necessary to make pesto — a Boswyck Farms specialty. This time around, we made pesto with our own arugula and spinach. Special thanks to Travis Tench of Band of Bicycles (bandofbicycles.com) for lending us the bike-powered blender.

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Chloë and Robert led interactive demonstrations of the MKU on the sidewalk outside Eyebeam, in the West Side Highway Park, and in a public green space near the Chelsea Market. In total, we worked with about twenty people (age four and a half to adult) to make and eat pesto. We hope that the MKU will help teach folks that making healthy, locally-sourced food can be easy and fun.

Eyebeam’s Stephanie Pereira took more pictures of the MKU and our other activities (including a couple short videos). Click here to see the photos and videos.

Images courtesy of Stephanie Pereira

UWAC was initiated by artist Jon Cohrs, in collaboration with the Eyebeam Student Residents, Eyebeam education coordinator Stephanie Pereira, and UK-based artist Kai-Oi Jay Yung. We look forward to partnering with Eyebeam again.

Stay tuned for a number of upcoming events and presentations, including an appearance at The Bushwick Starr (thebushwickstarr.org), and a festival with the New York Restoration Project (nyrp.org).