The Bushwick Campus Greenhouse project is a unique partnership between several Bushwick-based organizations. In the summer of 2011, Boswyck Farms teamed up with Ecostation:NY and the Academy of Urban Planning to expand their already fruitful soil farm with hydroponic grow beds.
Seeing the overwhelming interest in urban farming and food justice that grew from that endeavor, Ecostation:NY, the four high schools within the Bushwick Campus and Boswyck Farms partnered up again to design and build a “living classroom”, a greenhouse outfitted with soil beds and hydroponic systems, including an aquaponics tank
In December 2011, the Bushwick Campus Greenhouse became a reality. Boswyck Farms purchased the supplies needed to get the project off the ground. A successful Kickstarter campaign raised enough money to cover the upfront costs of the greenhouse.
A Living Classroom
The 40′ by 12′, energy-efficient greenhouse was built with the students from the Bushwick Campus High Schools, repurposing spare materials for most of the structures. Inside the greenhouse, a vast array of farming methods coexist. Pepper plants grow from NFT systems running down the main corridor and mushroom boxes are nestled underneath tables where seedlings are germinating in soil. Floating raft systems growing fresh greens are hydrated with nutrient-rich water from an aquaponic tank of tilapia fish below.
Students maintain the systems, applying math and science skills as they mix nutrient solutions for plants, measure harvest yields and rotate crops throughout the growth cycle. Once plants are harvested, Chrissy of Chrissy’s Cooking Club shares her culinary expertise with students, engaging them in interactive lessons on healthy cooking. Produce is also sold through the Bushwick Farmers’ Market, and to local restaurants including Café Ghia and Momo Sushi Shack.
An Ecosystem for Education
The goal of the greenhouse is to provide students with an opportunity to physically connect the dots between multiple concepts: food systems, economics, health, the environment, social justice, and sustainable agricultural practices. It not only serves as an outdoor classroom that supports youth empowerment, it’s a new model of community engagement.