Tag Archives: Brooklyn Grange

summer camp fun – week 2!

19 Jul

QjMCMkuZMbe2nkPntwhLKCHRThuGXQW8OMiIULIqojYThe second week of our first camp session is drawing to a close, and I can’t believe all the amazing things our campers have done over these past two weeks!

Despite the heat wave, our campers had a week of fun and adventures. Although we were disappointed not to be able to go on some of the trips we had planned, our days were full of delicious new recipes, art + garden activities, and a special heat wave treat!

ZzZGaQGrkLY46mIS4SKU6VIuvbBRnWMm538QH2DjfMcOn Monday, our campers braved the great outdoors for an interactive and fun trip to the Brooklyn Grange. There, our campers learned about bee pollination, harvesting vegetables, and a great song about compost which we put to good use later in the week. They also had the opportunity to create a delicious quinoa salad using fresh vegetables from the farm.

On Tuesday, we spent some time in the kitchen baking nutritious morning glory muffins. Everyone thought it was fun to see how good vegetables can taste in a muffin, and they were the perfect mid-morning snack before an afternoon at the movies! To escape the heat, everyone made a special trip to the theater for a showing of Despicable Me 2. It was a nice way to eas into the hot week ahead.

LwFvmI9yb3tw0hsFa-GhAYVma1C2D7czP-EW0trrWwoWednesday was a very exciting day at camp. After a few long days of anticipation, our campers traveled to Ample Hill Ice Cream where they learned about the ice cream making process, and then made their own vanilla ice cream on a bicycle! It was a big hit among the campers, and everyone was very excited to finally taste what they had churned. The campers returned ready for some nourishing food, and worked together to make tomato, mozzarella + pesto sandwiches. We rounded out the afternoon by making our own play dough and dying it using different foods! We had blueberries for purple/blue, pureed kale for green, and ketchup for red/orange.

Thursday we started the day with sparkling fruit sangria [don’t worry… it was kid friendly!]. White grape juice, seltzer, peaches, grapes, and nectarines made a refreshing drink before our morning art project. For lunch, we worked hard to make veggie hand pies + mashed potatoes. The campers even made the dough from scratch, and they were delicious. During lunch I even overheard one camper exclaim ‘This is the best thing I have ever tasted!’ Needless to say we have some budding young chefs among us.

N0ETonHm7MuIo0sQVWs8VS9wLFaPlylyzkRnqeo5MXcAs a Friday treat, we made another round of popsicles [blueberry + ‘coconut cream’] in the morning before heading the Union Square Farmers Market for another edition of Top Chef – Grain Salad! Each group bought three different color vegetables, 1 herb, and 1 type of salad green to mix with their quinoa, couscous, or brown rice. It was the perfect lunch for such a steamy day. We finished off the week with a relaxing yoga class. As our first session drew to a close we presented our Food + Garden experts with their very own cookbooks, a graduation certificate, and a golden spatula to symbolize their time with Butter Beans.

Raising the roof for the local food revolution

11 Apr

5834928694_1b1db4961fIs this reality, or our we dreaming? Growing food on top of roofs in the middle of metropolitan centers, feeding thousands of people off of the harvest, using little to no fossil fuels to transport the food, cleaning the air and providing homes to bees, birds and worms, creating jobs, stimulating the local economy and feeding our communities.

Rise and shine, and welcome to the bright green roofs of Brooklyn + Long Island City!

Bright Farms, a company that grew out of the New York Sun Works NGO which launched the Science Barge environmental education center on the Hudson river, has secured a rooftop space in Sunset Park, Brooklyn that spans 100,000 square feet with the vision of growing over 1 million pounds of vegetables per year! The farm plans to open in 2013.

In the meantime, our friends at the Brooklyn Grange are opening a new 45,000 square foot rooftop farm at the Brooklyn Navy Yards this spring. Their new venture is in addition to their other 40,000 square foot farm in Long Island City where they offer a CSA, a children’s education program, and supply local restaurants with fresh produce. They are also in the midst of fundraising for an apiary project with the goal of managing 25 bee hives year round. These 25 hives will end up producing more than 1,000 lbs of local honey, with the added bonus of pollinating the countless trees and gardens of New York City. Here’s a toast to the rooftop farm visionaries of our dear City!

Photo courtesy of this is awkward

It’s seed season!

12 Mar

7040367667_83e2da04a2Enjoying this Spring-like weather, and looking to sow some seeds this Spring?  The much loved by its members Park Slope Food Co-op in Brooklyn has received a shipment of vegetable and herb seeds from Artistic Gardens based in Vermont, FEDCO from Maine, and Seed Savers Exchange based in Iowa. Follow the links to order your seeds directly to your home or garden. We are going to pick some up for our summer campers, as we teach them how to grow vegetables, flowers and fruit from seeds.

7746101738_084590765bWe can’t wait for our annual summer visit to our friends at the Brooklyn Grange where we get the golden opportunity to pick farm fresh veggies, make a summer farmers salad and check in with their chickens and beehives on their glorious rooftop farm. They have big plans for the future of urban farming and have expanded their rooftop farm vision to another location in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, many congratulations to all of your hard work and dedication!

Photo courtesy of tterrag and Kristine Paulus

new city farmers

30 Jun

Whenever caterpillars have been mentioned, or talked about in our house, up until now, it has always been associated with butterflies – even the ones that never actually turn into butterflies. Well, yesterday, we discovered a bunch of caterpillars in our tatsoi plants, and my daughter wanted none of them. It did not matter if they were going to turn into beautiful butterflies that would amaze and inspire profound curiosity about what is possible. They, in one day, had made our once beautiful full leaves, into cobweb designs, and had completely eaten a few of them so that you wouldn’t know there had been a leaf at all. Clearly, a family had settled in quickly just in time to multiply – there were beautiful green caterpillars of all sizes getting cozy. We proceeded in harvesting all that was left and I dutifully took every caterpillar, attached to a piece of green for the ride of course, and sent them off to find a new home. Does anybody know what tiny black rounds all over the leaves, seemingly associated with the caterpillars – are? Is it their waste? Is it their eggs?  I don’t know, and we got rid of them faster than we could take a picture, but I still wonder what their role is and if our plants will recover for another round of harvest. Maybe we need to plant a plant just for the caterpillars. There must be a way to harmonize.

Thank goodness for the bean stalks that are growing. Pristine, bold and steady without any intruders to speak of.

Our questions and insecurities would surely inspire at least a giggle from seasoned gardeners. City dwellers – we can be farmers. I am getting quite excited about our summer camp beginning next week. I am especially looking forward to hanging out with the farmers at the Brooklyn Grange. The Brooklyn Grange is the biggest rooftop farm in the country, and they have lofty goals. They want to create lots of farms on rooftops. Imagine – especially all of you who long to leave the city in order to reconnect with growing food and green spaces. Imagine if people came to the city to learn to farm, if the city were in fact a farming mecca where people of all ages in every community felt connected to their local farm and food chain, where weekly markets were an integral part of our culture’s harmony.

seeds have coats – did you know?

24 Mar

It has always felt like a miracle at our house, when a seedling we planted turned into a plant – because sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t.  Never having had any official lessons on sowing seeds, we’ve done different things at different times – really pressing the earth down so the seed felt secure, putting it deep, putting it shallow, watering daily or every other day, keeping them inside or outside, always with great intention and promise. There are so many options really. Thanks to Anastasia Cole- resident farmer and our guide at the Brooklyn Grange (an incredible roof top fruit and vegetable farm and oasis in Queens, NYC), our family has tangible confidence about the seedlings we will plant this season.

With our Spring Food & Garden Experience group, we labeled our beds with a stick bearing the name of the crop, the date, and where the seeds came from. We sowed seeds of sorrel, and little gem lettuce in rows left to right, top to bottom – just like you read a book (this is an important part of early literacy, knowing how to follow words on a page). We made very small indentations in the dirt – because seeds don’t need to be deep. In fact, if they are sown too deep in the soil and grow tall too quickly in their search for sunshine, they will be weak forever. Their roots won’t be developed enough to absorb the needed nutrients of a bigger plant so young. So just under the surface we placed them, one seed per square. Then we sprinkled new soil on top of all of the seeds and watered them, much more than the sprinkling I wanted to give them. No intense stamping of the soil needed – new seeds need room and a good amount of water to take off their seed jackets, to grow up to their potential. New seeds and young children have a few things in common it seems.

They seedlings will be kept indoors for a few days or weeks depending on the weather – they need to be kept warm and get good sunlight. Windowsills are perfect! Little green sprouts should be visible within a week or so, depending on the seed. However, if two weeks have passed and you don’t see anything, you probably never will. Another good reason to label your seed beds with the date and seed seller’s name.

One of the students with us this week for our Food & Garden Experience shared his surprise at meeting Anastasia. She isn’t the image that many of us have of a farmer. She isn’t a man with a name like Jo or Bill or Old MacDonald. She is young and smart and beautiful and energetic, and she inspired trust and hope in our crowd. As we walked among the planting rows, with snow and rain falling from the sky (farms happen and farmers work in all types of weather!), and the sub-irrigation system below the dirt was highlighted, this same student asked a serious question. Is there enough water in the world?

All eyes were on our farmer. What would she say?

She spoke truth and offered opportunity. We don’t know. The Earth is changing all the time and we don’t know what our resource needs will be in the future with water for our growing population. What we do know, is that we need to manage the water we have, better. Our sewer system is not set up to handle all of the rain that falls on our city. When it rains one tenth of an inch in NYC, (measure that out with your fingers) it backs up our sewage system that overflows into Jamaica Bay (click here to learn about the work to better this system).

Farms, on sea or roof level however, absorb water and turn it into produce and plants that clean our air and provide us with sustainable sustenance. More farms, means less water overflow. More farms, more gardens. This is something tangible we can all do to support a sustainable water system in our city. In all cities.

It is time to sow seeds. If you are new to the world of seedlings, start with what is comfortable. Basil, lettuce, hot peppers and kitchen herbs are easy to grow. Start with one. If you live near a farm, consider volunteering for an afternoon to get comfortable with the idea. You may discover that there is a bit of farmer in you too.