Construction at the Boro Park Y

BoroPark_LettucesGrowingOur first major construction project in our new space — other than the space itself, which we’ll update you on as we make progress — has been a system for the senior citizens at the Boro Park Y. We’re doing a hydroponics and education program with them, and wanted to use our new space to optimize some new building techniques. Here’s what we’ve got:

We decided to go with a deep water system, as they are easy to maintain and also the most tolerant of pump failure. We’re installing three 2′ x 4′ deep water systems in total, each with its own powerful pump system and air stones to support water circulation.

Because we knew we couldn’t do much construction on site at Boro Park, we were keen on building something that could be loaded, pre-constructed, into our van for transport. As for the construction techniques, we’ve made a few updates to our previous deep water system approaches:


1. Framing. We’ve traditionally used PVC in our frame construction because it’s easy to work with and very effective. For this project, though, Lee decided that wood was a better option, which gave him and Bryant the opportunity to try a few new construction techniques.

2. Which brings us to item two. Lee wanted to try a new method of joinery using dowel pins. This was successful and quick — about an hour to cut the wood and drill the holes, and half an hour to glue.

Once the frames were constructed, it was onto finishing (something that we remembered takes much longer with wood). Luckily Bryant had a spray gun!

3. Pond liner, begone! Pond liner is expensive and not very beautiful, although it does have the upside of being malleable enough to fit any sized box. Luckily, we’ve recently discovered some new hydroponic flood trays that are perfect for the 2’x4′ deep water systems. (They’re also great for flood and drain!)


We drove the deep water systems over to Boro Park (always a traffic adventure) and have them set up to grow red and green oak leaf lettuce. The senior citizens in the class have had amazing success with their germination rate (over 90%), and the systems are now transforming the lobby of the Boro Park Y. We’re having a great time working with our class! More updates to come.

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