New York Farm City – Voices of the Urban Farming Movement in NYC

“I think urban farming is only in it’s very infant stages, this is only the beginning,” says James Beard-award winning chef Patrick Connolly, of NYC eatery Bobo at the beginning of New York Farm City, an inspiring short film produced by Petrina Engelke and Raul Mandru. There is so much potential to grow more food in the hearts of cities, and the movement is growing each day.

A common misconception is that some things just don’t grow that well in cities, but that’s not true. With just a little bit of determination you can grow just about anything.

Goodlifer: New York Farm City.

Gina of Nourishing NYC, an organization that runs a community garden in East Harlem.

Gina of Nourishing NYC, an organization that runs a community garden in East Harlem.

“We grow everything here, from squash to basil, peppers, pumpkins — you name it, we grow it,” says Gina Keatley of Nourishing NYC. “We’re a community food program, located in East Harlem. We offer nutrition for all through our produce program. We’re growing and giving out free produce.”

"We deal with people who don't understand that carrots from underground," says Keatley.

“We deal with people who don’t understand that carrots from underground,” says Keatley.

The educational aspect of Nourishing NYC’s community garden program is especially important to Keatley. “We deal with people who don’t understand that carrots from underground,” she says. “I think that programs like this and gardens throughout the community are important to keep a connection between what’s healthy and what people are actually eating.”

Daniel Bowman-Simon started a petition for Mayor Bloomberg to establish a vegetable garden in front of City Hall.

Daniel Bowman-Simon started a petition for Mayor Bloomberg to establish a vegetable garden in front of City Hall.

“It’s about inspiring people, teaching them that the can grow food,” says Daniel Bowman-Simon of People’s Garden NYC, a petition to Mayor Bloomberg for the establishment of a vegetable garden in front of City Hall.

Patrick Connolly is the head chef at NYC eatery Bobo.

Patrick Connolly is the head chef at NYC eatery Bobo.

Connolly says the best thing for him as a chef is to get produce that is grown as nearby as possible.

Connolly says the best thing for him as a chef is to get produce that is grown as nearby as possible.

“My job is to cook food and the best thing for me is to get food that is produced nearby. It tastes better, it’s the best quality, and you’re supporting the local economy,” says Chef Connolly. “It’s great to say that the produce comes form 50 miles from here, but to say that it came from the roof above your apartment building, that’s even better.”

Brooklyn Grange's one-acre farm in Queens is made up of roughly 1.2 million lbs of soil and over 20,000 linear feet of green roofing material.

Brooklyn Grange’s one-acre farm in Queens is made up of roughly 1.2 million lbs of soil and over 20,000 linear feet of green roofing material.

Brooklyn Grange Farm is financed through a combination of private equity, loans, grassroots fundraising events and through a campaign at Kickstarter.com.

Brooklyn Grange Farm is financed through a combination of private equity, loans, grassroots fundraising events and through a campaign at Kickstarter.com.

Since they do not spray pesticides, the people at Brooklyn Grange clean their produce from larvae and bugs manually.

Since they do not spray pesticides, the people at Brooklyn Grange clean their produce from larvae and bugs manually.

“I ran a rooftop farm in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, last summer, and we learned a lot. It was a smaller scale and we wanted to figure out what scale we need in order to come up with a business model that could survive in the city,” says Ben Flanner of Brooklyn Grange Farm. “For it to work, it has to be fiscally sustainable, be able to stand on it’s own to feet financially,” says his partner Anastasia Plakias. “The main problem with growing food in NYC is space, yet we have all these roofs that have sunlight on them all day long,” says Flanner. “This summer we grew about 12-15,000 pounds of produce.”

Goodlifer: New York Farm City

Goodlifer: New York Farm City

“We can at least raise some awareness and consciousness of what food looks and tastes like,” says Bowman-Simon. “If you can have a naked lady in front of City Hall, why not have a vegetable garden too?”

You’ll have to watch the film, above, to make sense of that one.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
1 comment on this postSubmit yours
  1. my dream is coming true..gardens every~where..especially* the rooftops in urban areas.

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