Queens County Farm announces 1.6-acre expansion to bring more food ‘from farm to fork’

Photo by Jenna Bagcal/QNS

Food’s journey from farm to fork is about to get shorter following Queens County Farm’s newly announced 1.6-acre expansion.

On Tuesday, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets confirmed that nearly two acres of land would undergo restoration at the Floral Park farm, which would increase the crop-growing area by more than 30 percent. The development, spearheaded by Councilman Barry Grodenchik, will aid one of New York State’s longest continuously operating farms in bringing more fresh produce to hungry residents.

“New York City residents are fortunate to have the Queens County Farm in the middle of a city of nearly 10 million people,” said NYSDAM Commissioner Richard A. Ball. “The farm is a treasure and a testament to New York State’s appreciation of its agricultural heritage. A lot of our work at the Department is about connecting the dots between our farm communities and our urban centers. This farm is proof that urban farming plays a major role in driving New York’s economy and enhancing [the] quality of life for its residents.”

The nonprofit organization and the New York State Office of Mental Health, which owns the property, reached an agreement to lease the land for crop production. According to Queens County Farm Museum Executive Director Jennifer Walden Weprin, the planned growth enables them to expand crop production to include more variety including garlic, potatoes, winter squash, sweet potatoes and corn.

Weprin joined Commissioner Ball, Assemblyman David Weprin, Councilman Grodenchik and members of John Bowne High School’s FFA chapter for the Dec. 17 announcement.

Since its inception, the Adriance family farmed the original site for over 100 years and through five generations. Four subsequent owners continued to farm the land until real estate investor, Pauline Reisman, bought the land in 1926 and turned it over to the state. The state-owned Creedmoor Hospital continued the farming tradition for produce and other plants.

Once Creedmore announced plans to sell the property, community members collaborated to save the farm and establish the Queens County Farm Museum in 1975.

“This is big news for Queens Farm. This land leased to us by the State was part of the farm’s original footprint in 1697. This expansion supports the farm’s planned growth and will help enable us to broaden our reach so we can serve more people in need of fresh produce in our communities,” said Weprin.

The land is located just behind the soccer fields on the premises. To prepare for the upcoming expansion, Weprin said that they need to install a gate between the existing fences and get a tractor to even out the road area.

Additionally, farm employees will observe the property for one season to observe what organically grows on the land and how best to maintain it.

The farm hosts an average of 400,000 visitors, 100,000 of which are students, each year. Since 1975, Queens County Farm has welcomed nearly 10 million visitors to learn about the nearly 14,000 pounds of fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers as well as the 270 farm animals on site.

“The Office of Mental Health is delighted to provide Queens County Farm Museum with the space it needs to expand crop production and bring more produce to kitchen tables in Queens. Food scarcity is a critical social determinant of mental health and we are happy to support any effort that combats its effects,” said NYSOMH Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan.