Battery Park Urban Farm

Battery Park is on the very southern most tip of Manhattan, on the edge of the financial district. The area is filled with gleaming modern high-rises and mammoth art deco buildings remaining from the New York of old. I will hardly be the first person to say that New York is a city of contradictions. But, as I sat on the grass in the sun watching volunteer farmers learn how to tell if a yellow tomato is ripe, I felt the rumble of a subway passing beneath the ground and I felt that it was impossible not to be awe-struck by the clash between the new and the old, and the city and the farm.

Just feet from the last stop of the 1 train there is a flourishing urban farm on the edge of Battery Park, surrounded by a strange woven bamboo fence.  Inside the fence the Battery Park Urban Farm is filled with organic cucumbers, tomatoes, beans and flowers. The farm’s primary goal is educational, and the events that they host make the farm an indispensible part of the local community. Local schools and families visit, and the farm is open for the public every weekend during the growing season (April through November).

The one-acre farm hosts a number of community outreach programs. Youth volunteers do the farming, and in the process they learn about the origins of food while working up a sweat and meeting new people. Trained supervisors are there to oversee and answer any questions that the volunteers have.

One Saturday a month the farm hosts “Farm Saturdays,” where for a suggested donation on $10 community members can get the chance to stop by and play in the dirt with their neighbors while learning about how to harvest. After the day of work participants stay for a cookout together and a workshop on topics ranging from natural dyeing to urban beekeeping before going home with an armful of fresh vegetables.

In addition to “Farm Saturdays,” the farm offers programming such as the “City Seedlings” initiative especially for area youth. Kids get the opportunity to try their hand at farming, and begin to develop an understanding of how what they eat gets on their plate. Other programs available specifically for youth include farm educator-led classes and enrichment visits.

The Battery Park farm may be small, but by being both educational and entertaining it is making an effort to reach and impact as many people as possible.

Stay Saucy,
Madeline Muzzi
Summer 2012 NYC Food Warrior

This post is from one of the interns in the Real Time Farms Food Warrior Internship Program. These interns are collecting data, pictures, and video on the growing practices of our nation’s farms, gathering food artisans’ stories, and documenting farmers markets. We all deserve to know where our food comes from! Boring legalese we feel we must include: this was written by a real live person who has their own opinions, which we value, but that do not necessary reflect, though they may (or may not), the values and opinions of Real Time Farms. That is for you to guess and us to know.

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