Today’s story is about turning our compost pile, with the help of the nice folks over at the Liberty Partnerships Program at Kingsborough.
In the deepest depths of the kingdom of Kingsborough’s Urban Farm, towards the T1 building and behind the student beds lies the mysterious Mount Compost. Rumor has it that this mountain is made of garden waste and the bodies of fruits and vegetables that never get eaten. They say that mysterious figures wearing sun hats and farm clothes add to the mountain every week. It is believed that otherworldly forces transform this plant matter into soil. I know the truth. Mount Compost is made of much more than just the bodies of our fallen plant brethren. Mount Compost is composed of a network of of Bacteria, Fungi, and Protists that digest plant matter and convert it into the rich soil that we use on the farm.
Every day I look at the progression of the tan on my arms. I trace over the marks and splotches that the plants have bestowed upon my epidermal layer. They are the gentle kisses that the farm leaves behind after a hard days labor. On the train I am wrapped in my cozy dirt blanket. The light dusting protects all of my exposed parts from the cold train car, allowing me to rest rather than shiver. As I am lulled into sleep I admire the soil locked behind my fingernails. I feel my fingers worming through the land as I try to free my loves from the saboteur weeds stealing their nutrients.
Today’s story is about staff distribution, one of the most exciting times of the year. We hope you enjoy!
The sign outside the farm gate seemed simple enough. It told the staff and faculty what time the distribution of vegetables began. 11:30 A.M. on the dot, never a second too early, and never a second too late. From the back of the farm looking out, the farm crew could see a sea of bodies. Bodies of people who had dedicated themselves to two things. The first was serving the Kingsborough community to the best of their ability, the second was getting their farm fresh organic veggies before our stock ran low. This crowd had been waiting all year as students came and went as they pleased to student only distributions of produce. They were ready, they were hungry, and we were ready to serve them.
We’re excited to introduce KCC Urban Farm’s new Farm Manager, Cris Izaguirre!
Cris completed the Ecological Horticulture Apprenticeship at the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems in Santa Cruz, California (the same training program as our previous, Farm Manager, Silvia Torres!). Previously, Cris worked on permaculture and Native Hawaiian farms on the Big Island of Hawaii, while also assisting elementary school gardening classes at Honaunau Elementary School. Having worked part-time as a Farm Assistant pre- and post-Hurricane Sandy at KCC Urban Farm, Cris feels like they are returning to their farming home.
KCC Students! Did you know you can get FREE and FRESH farm produce grown and harvested on campus from KCC Urban Farm? Not only will you get bunches of produce, but you’ll also be able to sample yummy recipes of what you can make with what you take. Distributions happen every Thursday beginning at 11:30 and will continue until everything is gone.
Locations alternate between KCC’s Single Stop (V-231) and KCC Urban Farm (between T8 and T2). This week’s distribution is at Single Stop. Stop by at 11:30, bring your KCC ID, and get ready for fresh, delicious, and healthy food!
Learn how to cook a nutritional meal with cheap and accessible fresh produce
Learn about budgeting for eating healthy
Leave with all the groceries needed to prepare that day’s recipe
Classes are Monday evenings from 5:00-6:30 and run from June 22nd-July 27th. If you are interested in signing up, contact Hattie Elmore from KCC’s Single Stop either at firstname.lastname@example.org or 718.368.5411.
2014 student research assistant Adriana Valerio measuring brix in kale leaves
We are looking for students who are interested in gaining lab experience by helping KCC Urban Farm measure nutrients in our soil and plant tissue. Duties will include using testing kits to track select nutrients for some of our crops and amending KCC Urban Farm soil based on soil test results. No experience is necessary, but students should be responsible, dependable, and enjoy working outside. Applicants should also ideally be able to commit to both spring and summer semesters.
Research assistants will be hired as student aides and must be full time. To apply, please send a resume, cover letter, and class schedule to email@example.com by April 13, 2015.
Designed by Farm student aide, Tirrell Alford, the logo features KCC’s iconic MAC building (Marine Aquatic Center…did you know KCC has an aquarium on campus?) and what some might say is the Farm’s most famous produce: carrots. We couldn’t be more pleased!
We haven’t spoken much about science on the farm, but we’ve had a number of projects going over the last few years. Last season, KCC Urban Farm ran a small experiment to see how adding minerals to our soil could boost plant nutrition. This year, we plan to expand upon that experiment, so stay tuned for internship opportunities!
Soil is made out of minerals (50%), air (23%), water (23%), and organic matter (4%). Because KCC Urban Farm is lucky enough to receive donations of compost from the Department of Sanitation, however, our soil has 30% organic matter! What does this mean for us? For growing our high quality vegetables, it means we have to test our soil for the nutrients plants need to grow.
Based on the soil test results, we can add mineral amendments based on what we’re missing.
Student research assistant Adriana Valerio measuring brix in kale leaves
We want to know if our mineral amendments are leading to healthier crops. In 2014, we ran a small experiment on our tomato plants: we amended only half of the plants for each variety of tomato. After a couple of weeks, we measured calcium and brix levels in new and old leaves for all of the tomato plants. We did the same thing a couple of months later. Calcium is important for plant growth – plant cells use it for structure. It’s also a good indicator of nutrient uptake. Brix is a measure of plant sugars – if brix is high, we know our plants have everything they need to thrive.