Bringing A ‘Farm In The Sky’ to B’wick
EcoStation NY has announced a Kickstarter campaign, “30K in 30 Days”, to build a 10,000 sq. ft. rooftop garden atop its new headquarters at 214 Starr St. in Bushwick.
The organization hopes to use the rooftop garden to grow fresh herbs crops and plants, to be distributed locally, Maggie Cheney, director of farms education for EcoStation NY said. The nonprofit will hire 14 area young people to help build the rooftop garden.
The Farm-In-The-Sky will nearly double EcoStations yield, and grow almost three tons of food annually, the organization said.
Entering its fifth year, the organization seeks to educate all in the community on healthy eating, nutrition and food justice issues.
EcoStation holds many community events, and plans urban agriculture classes on the rooftop garden, Cheney said.
For the Farm-In-The-Sky campaign, EcoStation is “actively recruiting donors,” she said.” We’re nearing 5k, but have a lot to go. “People can contribute one dollar, or 5k.”
The building at 214 Starr St. will become the groups headquarters and will also house a community events space.
The space will hold nutrition workshops, fitness classes, and Yoga . “(It’s) indoors for a lot of classes,” Cheney said. “It’s very a multipurpose (space).”
Fourteen young people will also be employed to build and run Farm- In-The-Sky, through the food justice team, a paid summer internship entering its fourth year, the organization’s Kickstarter page said.
The “Farm-In-The-Sky will be a combined 10,000 sq. ft. of terrace and rooftop garden utilizing traditional and experimental DIY growing techniques. It will also serve as a center for learning about urban agriculture, and food justice issues.”
The Kickstarter campaign began June, 10 and will close July, 10.
EcoStation also works with community organizations and local high schools on the Bushwick Campus, which houses five separate high schools.
Food grown in the community is sold in the neighborhood after it is harvested.
“Our primary focus is the five Bushwick farmers markets,” Cheney said.
One community partner, Make the Road NY will rent space from EcoStation to hold English classes for second language learners.
The organization will also help educate the community on healthy eating habits, proper nutrition and food justice issues.
Health concerns like “diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure are all tied to diet,” Cheney said.
To help people eat healthier foods and learn to prepare meals for themselves, EcoStation will hold culturally appropriate cooking demonstrations designed to get Bushwick’s diverse cultures excited about cooking and eating healthy foods.
EcoStation held 125 cooking demonstrations in 2013, according to Cheney.
The demonstrations will focus of African-American and Dominican food styles and incorporate the cultural heritages of those living in Bushwick, Cheney stated.
“Bushwick is an incredibly vibrant neighborhood filled with different cultures,” she said.
“So it’s not just all about kale chips and brown rice,” she said.
The plot at Bushwick Campus is a quarter of an acre and grows 100 varieties of crops, according to Cheney.
It is maintained by EcoStation with the help of high school students that learn about farming urban, and agriculture and how to grow healthy, fresh foods.
“With Farm-In-The-Sky, we will increase access to healthy food in the low income neighborhood of Bushwick, and create opportunities for people–especially women, people of color and recent immigrants-to grow food for themselves,” EcoStation stated.
Food grown at Farm-In-The-Sky will also be donated to young people, community organizations and senior citizens, the group said.
The organizations vows to keep with EcoStation’s focus on human and environmental health, employing “sustainable practices.”
To Irrigate the rooftop garden, a rainwater harvesting system, powered by solar panels will be used, and organic waste will be composted, then put back into the garden.