The day before Hurricane Sandy, Lee harvested over 35 pounds of produce from the Bushwick Starr rooftop. We shared it with our friends and neighbors.
We’re glad we got all of that good stuff, because after the storm, we came back to this.
And this, really, is nothing. Our farm and neighborhood were not hit hard by the storm, which devastated many New York neighborhoods as well as places up and down the East Coast and as far south as Cuba. Our thoughts are particularly with Added Value, an amazing farm in Red Hook. Red Hook is one of the neighborhoods that was worst hit.
If you are looking to help New Yorkers this week, please visit NYC Service, a terrific 311 site for volunteering. There are a lot of needs, even as power is coming back on and hot water is more readily available. It will take a long time to recover. We feel very blessed that we sustained so little damage.
We’ve been meaning to do a series of intern profiles for a while, and now we’re finally getting around to it. We’ve worked with some amazing interns over the years — they really do keep our business running. We’re excited to introduce you to the current crop (forgive the pun). First up, meet Chelsea, our college intern from Pace University.
Name: Chelsea Dow
Age: 20 years old
School: Pace University
What brought you to Boswyck Farms?
I came to Boswyck Farms for my interest in sustainable agriculture and interest in supporting local farms/produce.
What have you learned so far from working with us?
I have already learned so much from working at the farm. After only a month I understand the basic steps towards creating and manufacturing a hydroponic system, and also the benefits it poses.
What are the surprising things about your internship?
I was surprised to learn about the false information people have been told about hydroponics. After working on the farm, I have had multiple people ask me if plants grown in a hydroponic system are not as flavorful as there soil grown counterparts. Hydroponic growing does not change the taste of any plant!
What do you want to do with your new urban farming knowledge?
Working at Boswyck Farms will greatly benefit me in the future. I want to take the knowledge gained from my internship and use it both for personal and educational purposes. For myself, I want to have a hydroponic system in my own space. After graduation I would also like to WOOF (world organization of organic farmers) and the knowledge from this internship would greatly improve my farming techniques.
Check us out on Brooklyn Independent Television! Thanks to producer Charlie Hoxie for reaching out to us about appearing on this episode of BRIC Media’sNeighborhood Beat. We had a great time shooting, and we hope you’ll enjoy watching. The Boswyck Farms bit begins around minute 9.
Despite the rainy weather, we had really great attendance at our Open House and Harvest Party last Sunday at the Bushwick Starr. We were glad to meet lots of interesting people with widely varying knowledge of hydroponics: from the newbies to the experts, we love to show off our stuff! It’s always good to test what we know by teaching others, and to get pointers from the pros.
Visitors included a representative from Community Board 4 (our local community board in Bushwick), and members of Concrete Green, a worker-owned cooperative based in the Bronx that “customizes green infrastructure & products for our clients and community to improve local living conditions and address climate change.”
Anne made some delicious snacks from our our rooftop-grown produce, including lettuce roll-ups, massaged kale salad, cucumber/cherry tomato salad, and a mixed green salad made from lettuce, dandelion greens, sorrel, watercress, curly cress, and purple basil. Yum! You can email her for recipes. And if you’re still interested in getting a tour of the rooftop, it’s not too late. Ask Alex M. for an appointment. We don’t know how much longer our outdoor growing season will last, so come by soon!
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.
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.