Last March we started with an idea: convert a piece of vacant land in Brooklyn into an urban farm and open it to the public. We didn’t have any funding, established organizations supporting us or a precedent set that might make us think we could accomplish what we set out to do - just two guys with an idea. We knew that green oases where city dwellers could reconnect with nature were lacking, so we put our heads down and started digging.
Here we are over a year later: what was once a rubble and trash-filled parking lot is now a lush green space filled with flowers, vegetables, butterflies, dragonflies, and birds. We've taught hundreds of elementary school children how their food is grown; we've fed scores of people delicious and healthy food at our farm-to-table dinners; hundreds of volunteers have reconnected with their inner green thumb at our regular volunteer hours; and a close-knit "farm family" has rallied to make the project an immense success.
But our journey has just begun, and we have more to do. There are over 600 acres of private and public vacant land in Brooklyn - just like our lot - that have an untapped potential. We're reaching out for your support so we can scrape the surface of this vast piece of unused earth and redeem some magic before it becomes developed.
When we built our farm - and the larger green space called Havemeyer Park that it lies within - a state legislator noticed and introduced a bill that would give tax breaks to property owners if they allow public green space to be built on their land while it sits vacant and unused.
So while everyone is watching, we want to do the best job we can. Every week we receive new requests from local schools asking to arrange a farm visit, and the park in which we operate is unable to pay staff members to keep the space open every day.
With your support of this campaign, we will:
- Hire additional education staff so we can expand our programming and accommodate twice as many farm visits from schoolchildren.
- Build 10 more raised pallet beds to increase produce and cut flower production.
- Keep North Brooklyn Farms and Havemeyer Park open 6 days a week
- Seek to secure a 2-year lease on another vacant lot in North Brooklyn, build an independent urban farm and move our plants and infrastructure to the new site.
Our goal is set to $15,000, which will ensure we maximize the potential for the 3 months we have left on this lot, and then move to a new lot when our lease is up on August 31. For each additional $15,000 we raise, we will set out to transform an additional vacant lot into an urban farm.
In a city that feels increasingly off limits to you and your dreams, North Brooklyn Farms reminds you of what is possible. If we reach our goal, we could remind everyone -- not only in New York City, but across the country and throughout the globe -- of what is possible with a shovel and an idea.
Risks and challenges
At the end of August, construction of the Domino Sugar development is set to begin on the site where our farm currently resides. This is an inherent risk of working in vacant lots.
August is peak season for us. We'll have hundreds of pounds of organic produce growing in our raised beds. If this timeline persists, that food will need a new home, and it will need one quickly. We have identified a couple of problems that may arise for us:
1. Moving raised beds
Knowing that our access to the current farm space was only temporary, we anticipated the inevitable move and built our raised beds on pallets to make the farm mobile. Some of them could break during pick up, so we developed a trick to rebuild weak beds before they are moved.
2. Finding a new space
Anyone who's searched for an apartment in Brooklyn knows it's no easy feat and problems can always arise at the last minute.
We have dozens of neighbors who put in hundreds of hours to carve out a beautiful space where countless memories have been made, and we have relationships with the developers who work in South Williamsburg. New leads for new sites spring up often, and it's usually someone who is motivated to help.
The more successful our campaign, the more resources we'll have to pursue each lead and consider if it's a good fit for us. We have a strong network of followers and relationships with schools and businesses in North Brooklyn. In our experience working with one major developer, Two Trees, we learned about the matrix of regulation, permitting, insurance and human dynamics that need to be navigated in order to make a project like this happen. So we are confident that we can seal the deal and find a new home for our plants, and continue growing from there.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (25 days)