Tag Archives: urban farm

Farm Hands

By Lilja Walter, KCC Urban Farm student aide11222936_1021180417903973_6387449318426881408_o

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.

I dig my arms deeper into the soil.

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A Slice of Farm Life: Tales From the Field

By Ben Hanon, KCC Urban Farm Student Aide

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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.

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Welcome Cris Izaguirre, new Farm Manager at KCC Urban Farm!

10333808_10152116532037705_1215833138407859233_oWe’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.

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KCC Urban Farm Produce Distribution

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!

Science on the Farm

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!

The problem:
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.

The solution:
Based on the soil test results, we can add mineral amendments based on what we’re missing.

The experiment:

Student research assistant Adriana Valerio measuring brix in kale leaves

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.

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KCC Urban Farm in the Community

IMG_1750Want to meet the farmers of KCC Urban Farm? Farm staff will be at two events in March:

March 21, 2015: Making Brooklyn Bloom at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

March 28, 2015: NYCHA Goes Green (location to be announced)

Come talk with Farm Education Manager, Mara Gittleman, and Farm Manager, Silvia Torres, about what goes on at the farm from the students who help the farm runcontinuing education classesproduce distributions and culinary arts partnerships. We’ve got it all!

KCC Urban Farm is Hiring!

Are you a full time KCC student? Do you want to work at KCC Urban Farm? Now’s the time to get connected with us. Help with harvesting, propagation, composting, demonstrations and general site maintenance. Read the flyer below for more information. (If you can’t access the flyer, contact Farm Manager Silvia Torres for more info: silvia.torres@kbcc.cuny.edu)

kcc urban farm hiriing 2015

2015 Classes on the Farm

beetsCome grow vegetables with us! This winter and spring KCC Urban Farm will be offering classes to get you on your way to a great 2015 growing season. Register online or at 718-368-5050. For a regularly updated listing of classes at KCC Urban Farm, check our website.

WINTER 2015
Planting Seeds
NHB39, $40
Tues., March 17, 5:30-8:30pm AND Tues., March 31, 5:30-8:30pm

Learn the ins and outs of growing edible crops from seed. This two-day
course will include seed science, pest management, equipment, and
maintenance to successfully carry your crops through the process of
germination. Participants will take home their own seedlings to kick-start their gardens!

SPRING 2015 (registration opens in March)
Intro to Organic Vegetable Gardening
Tuesdays, 5:30-8:30pm, April 28 – June 16.
$100 + $15 materials fee

This course covers all of the basics of urban gardening from soil to seed to table. Learn how to grow edible crops organically, start plants from seed, manage pests, and more at KCC Urban Farm. Students will gain skills in soil conditioning, crop planning, composting, planting, and harvesting to get on their way to producing their own fresh herbs, greens, fruits, and vegetables. This course also covers finding land for gardening in NYC and building a garden from scratch.

Planting Seeds
NHB39, $40 + $5 materials fee
Weds., April 29, 5:30-8:30pm AND Weds., May 13, 5:30-8:30pm

Learn the ins and outs of growing edible crops from seed. This two-day
course will include seed science, pest management, equipment, and
maintenance to successfully carry your crops through the process of
germination. Participants will take home their own seedlings to kick-start their gardens!

Student Success Story: Maya Stansberry at KCC Urban Farm

CEWD KCC Urban Farm 1 9.15.14If you’ve read any of our recent posts about KCC Urban Farm, you’ve probably seen photos of one of our most dedicated and energetic student aides: Maya Stansberry. Before the holidays I sat down with Maya to talk about her work on the farm and her future plans in urban agriculture.

What is your interest in urban farming and where did it come from?

Growing up, gardening was a pastime that my mother and relatives eagerly shared, and something that I learned to appreciate as well as enjoy. While my family has no professional/educational background with gardening, we always had gardens or small, indoor greenhouses going on somewhere. As a result, and I feel like a hippie saying this, I love being outside and connecting with the earth. There’s something exciting about putting something in the earth and getting something else back.

I wouldn’t say that my interest in urban farming comes from growing up in Baltimore, but more comes from growing up in a family with a southern/country heritage where gardening/farming incidentally runs in the family (my fraternal grandfather, who grew up on a farm, has his own vegetable garden which I helped tend to in my early teens; my maternal grandmother has a vegetable garden at her church; my mom encouraged my siblings and I to attempt to grow things, etc.).

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