Our friends at Project ORE (a program for Jewish Elders that’s a part of the Educational Alliance) have become avid hydroponic farmers after 8 weeks of classes with us this summer. They’re growing lettuce, basil, arugula, thyme, and other salad greens and aromatic herbs to use in their cafeteria, or to enjoy at home.
Project ORE is using a raft system with four reservoirs: two for smaller plants, and two for larger plants. Although there is some natural light in the room, we installed some additional lighting to make sure that the plants are healthy and strong. The systems are surrounded by drawings made by Project ORE clients, as well as some hydroponic fun facts that we all put together.
Congratulations to our newest “crop” of farmers. L’Shana Tova/Happy New Year to all!
Meet Ms. Heidi, our contact at the Bushwick Salvation Army. With the bounty of produce coming from the roof of the Bushwick Starr, we’d been searching for an ideal partner for food donation. Given our supporting food pantries and soup kitchens at other places, we were hoping to connect with a soup kitchen in our area. The Salvation Army has been a perfect match, and Ms. Heidi is their kitchen manager. A great person to know!
So far we’ve made three sizable donations to the soup kitchen, including several kinds of lettuce, basil, arugula, giant Japanese mustard greens, and kale. We were hoping for a fourth donation before the end of August but the end of summer hailstorm had other ideas. We’re so happy to be feeding some of our neighbors in need, and to show that yes, there can be a farm in Bushwick!
Are you as excited about hydroponics as we are? Want to try your hand at the trade? Now you can!
Here at Boswyck Farms, our motto is “Design, Build, Teach, Play” — meaning that not only are these things that we love to do on our work sites and in our office, but these are things we want to do with you. Introducing the brand new, fresh out the gate Boswyck Farms Hydroponic Certification and Teacher Training programs. We’ll design, build, teach, and play alongside you, teaching and testing important skills until you’re ready to start a farm of your own.
These courses are great for anyone looking to start a farm, bring hydroponics to their classroom or agency, or just for someone looking to add another professional development notch to his or her belt. In just a few short sessions (8 for the Certification program, 4 for Teacher Training), we’ll get you on your feet with some basics through hands-on activities and practical applications.
What are you waiting for? Sign up today! Online registration is now open.
We had an excellent time last weekend at Arts in Bushwick’s 2012 Bushwick Open Studios. We opened up our rooftop farm at the Bushwick Starr for anyone in need of a cool, green haven in the midst of the surrounding art madness. People seemed to appreciate the space for its amazing sense of calm, and they were also excited to see the possibilities for what you can grow in seemingly non-traditional places! Of course it didn’t hurt that all the plants are doing incredibly well. There was red lettuce for nibbling, and we’re really looking forward to the tomatoes, squashes, melons, and greens . . .
Deborah Soffel wrote a great little piece for her blog, Grapes and Greens, about visiting us this weekend and we’re excited to share it with you now. Scroll down for the farm details, but check out that amazing kitchen design in the process. We want one of those for our farm-to-table celebrations!
Thanks for sharing this with us, Deborah. Come by for a visit any time.
And now for a report from our frugal and enterprising Alex Middleton.
You can usually find Alex hard at work on our various systems, making sure that everything’s going as smoothly as it can. Growing hydroponically isn’t that different from traditional soil farming in that our plants are still susceptible to certain unfortunate diseases and pest problems. But Alex is there to the rescue!
Most recently he’s been working to solve a downy mildew problem on our cucumber plants. The winning solution? A spray of 9 parts water to 1 part milk. Cheap, easy, and awesome.
For more information about how Alex came to this formula, check some research here and here. Milk: it does a plant good.
This is all part of our plan to get everything ready for Bushwick Open Studios, one of our biggest events of the year. We’ll be showcasing our work on the roof of the Bushwick Starr, and we’re thrilled to celebrate our creative neighborhood. Given the arts background of most of our farmers, it’s only right to be in such fine artistic company! We hope to see you this weekend.
Last week, Boswyck Farms’ Alex Tyink and Alex Middleton had the privilege of sitting in on a meeting with members of the New York City Council and Columbia University’s Workshop in Sustainable Development. Boswyck Farms worked in conjunction with Columbia University to present information on urban farming and what the council can do to incentivize New York City building owners and farmers to be a part of the urban farming movement.
Alex Tyink spoke at the meeting about the educational, therapeutic, and job training possibilities available through urban agriculture. He outlined that one urban farm is capable of providing multi-disiplinary education programs that provide hands on health awareness and science based inquiry. He expressed the need for the city to provide clear policy about the regulations and financial incentives provided by the city and government as a whole, so urban farming is more accessible and affordable to schools and other non-profits with limited resources and discretionary funding.
Boswyck Farms believes that urban farming can be expanded throughout the city as a restorative, community-buidling tool capable of closing the achievement gap, while being environmentally responsible and providing the freshest, healthiest food to those who need it most. We are hoping to integrate as many of these forward thinking ideas as possible with FoodWorks
, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn’s 86 page plan for a sustainable food system. This ground to garbage approach is providing a blueprint for every phase of the food system, including agriculture.
Here at Boswyck, we support the use of heirloom seeds wherever possible. Our own seeds come from Johnny’s, the Hudson Valley Seed Library, and Rare Seeds. You know where they never come from? Monsanto.
Luckily, Poland’s seeds aren’t coming from Monsanto either. Or at least their corn won’t. Poland joined the list of EU countries opposing GMOs this week, calling for a complete ban of corn strain MON810. More information here. The United States has also made some progress in this direction. Contact Just Food or your local advocacy group to find out how you can get involved in the fight against genetically modified foods.
We’ve been hard at working building a system with Los Sures, a social service organization in South Williamsburg. Robin, our main contact there, was kind enough to send along these photos that she took of the progress so far.
It’s been amazing to work with this team. Their dedication to grassroots community support is amazing. Plus, we’ve gotten to practice our Spanish — an important skill when you’re working in New York City.
The first seedlings were planted and they’re already sprouting! We’re looking forward to supplying the Los Sures Community Choice Pantry with ultra fresh, maximally local produce.
Here at Boswyck Farms we’re always excited to hear about global trends (or advances!) in hydroponics. As more communities around the world (especially in urban areas) turn to farming as a viable way of improving their food supply, hydroponics can be an awesome option for those who lack access to clean soil.
So today we’re especially happy to share this video from Scientific American about hydroponic installations in the Philippines! This project is community based, improving access to fresh, healthy food, and a good low-cost solutions: all the things we like to see. Enjoy!
Hydroponics Bring Low-Cost Solution to High Food Prices
Last week we enjoyed cupcakes and music with the consumers at United Cerebral Palsy Day Habilitation 5, where we recently installed a brand-new hydroponic grow room. The systems installed are fully accessible to consumers at almost any level of physical disability, which we find really exciting. They grow 57 heads of lettuce and incubate 57 seedlings at a time.
The ribbon was cut by Lee and a consumer from UCP, after a speech by Program Director Melissa Shields. We were also proud to hear a speech from our own Alex Middleton, who has been working with UCP consumers on an ongoing basis.
All attendees at the event were invited to enter a raffle. The prizes? Free lettuce from our systems, and soda bottle planters to take home. For more photos of this fun event, check out our slideshow here.