Monday, September 15, 2008

East New York Farms and Laura's Rooftop Garden

After a day of traveling, discovering that our apartment was a fourth floor Hell's Kitchen walk-up and a much deserved night's rest (I could complain about carrying equipment up the flights of stairs, but since Scott and Steve lifted most of it, including my 50 lb suitcase, I have little to say) we headed down to 21st and 1st to meet Laura who, despite her diminutive figure, spends her free time hoisting heavy bags of soil and water up to her rooftop garden on a make-shift pulley system she created utilizing a very fragile ladder and hole in the ceiling of her building. She is amazing - landlord of the building (how else would she be able to get away with the hose coming out of her living room window to the greenery above), gardener extraordinaire and a full-time law student at NYU. Let her be proof that if she can find the time to garden and raise her own veggies, we all can!

She has a variety of tomatoes, squash, and strawberries and raises most of them from seeds herself. Citing her need to be in touch with the earth while living in the city, you can see how just this small change in her life has provided so much fun not to mention fodder for her friends who will come over for dinner parties and admire her green thumb!

We then set off to visit Deborah Greig, the Urban Agriculture Coordinator at East New York Farm. Take the 3 train about as far as it can go, look under the tracks and see the most magnificent urban garden you could find! While kids play loudly in the park across the street and people drive by with music blasting, Deborah runs the afternoon program with a group of interns who grow an outstanding amount of fruits and veggies for the neighborhood. They are so popular, in fact, that their market stand will be extended longer into the fall months.

They grow such a variety of produce that the neighborhood really needs and loves. With a high immigrant population, this garden is one of the only resources where they can find staples such as bitter melon - a vegetable used a lot in Bangladeshi and Caribe cooking. (Steve, eager to try something new, ate the juicy red seeds first not knowing that its the meat you eat and discard the rest - he was relieved to hear that they were safe, just not the tastiest part) The garden, Deborah and the youth interns really cater to the needs of the neighborhood, a true food desert. This puts everyone involved in touch with their food's origin and teaches about the time and energy needed to create something so bountiful.

Her Sun Gold tomatoes were some of the best I have tried (and I am quite the SG connoisseur now). I even put some in my purse to bring back to my friend in the city who had never tried these luscious little golden balls of goodness - 3 made it successfully. The other 3 are still being scraped out... Thanks Laura, Deborah and the kids at ENYF for making this a great first day in the Big (Sustainable) Apple!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

go team!
going from borough to borough