The Queens County Farm Museum and Innovation QNS are collaborating on a unique initiative that will give urban farmers across the borough an opportunity to take their neighbors’ food scraps and use them for their own gardens while building healthier food, soil and climate systems.
The new partnership is giving away more than 12 tons of free compost along with seed packets to Astoria residents at community events throughout the fall.
Interested residents can get their compost and seeds free of charge, beginning Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Astoria Film Festival and the Queens Economic Development Corporation’s “Queens Comes Back!” celebration on Oct. 9, both at the Kaufman Astoria Studios Backlot.
The giveaway represents a broader effort by the two partners to support a healthier, more sustainable future for western Queens.
Queens Farm — the largest tract of farmland in New York City, which for decades has provided Queens residents and visitors tremendous access to open space and fresh, nutritious produce — and Innovation QNS successfully completed a soft launch of the program during the opening weekend of the Queens County Fair.
Queens Farm’s composting drop-off program launched in 2011, and since the suspension of the city’s curbside composting program due to the pandemic in June of 2020, the surrounding community has come to rely on Queens Farm’s food scrap drop-off as the only way to recycle kitchen scraps.
“We are excited to partner with Innovation QNS on the 25,000-pound compost giveaway,” Queens County Farm Museum Executive Director Jennifer Walden Weprin said. “Composting is a key component of the farm’s lifecycle. Home gardeners throughout Queens can take what was once food scraps and grow their own fresh fruits and vegetables through this program.”
Compost made locally at Queens Farm is composed of a balanced mix of carbon (“browns”) and nitrogen (“greens”), produced using a combination of organic materials including arm-raised plants, livestock manure, leaves and kitchen food scraps collected from the community.
It is a key component of healthy soil, improving structure and fertility, promoting water retention and airflow, preventing erosion and boosting biological activity. Composting is also a proven and practical method for diverting organic waste from landfills and reducing harmful methane emissions, one of the major contributors to climate change.
The community-focused compost giveaway program is made possible through a partnership between Queens Farm and Innovation QNS, which is a joint venture of Kaufman Astoria Studios, Silverstein Properties and BedRock Real Estate Partners to develop a $2 billion mixed-use five-block area centered at the intersection of Steinway Street and 35th Avenue.
The project would bring more than 2,800 units of mixed-income housing and offices for startups and other businesses in the creative and tech sectors, supported by more than 5,400 on-site jobs, including 1,700 permanent jobs and more than 3,700 during construction.
The Innovation QNS proposal would create more than two acres of open space in a neighborhood that ranks 53rd of New York City’s 59 neighborhoods for open space. The proposal is still early in the city’s public review process after completing a scoping meeting with the Department of City Planning in June. Innovation QNS is looking to have the final approval of the project by the fall of 2022.
“Queens Farm has long been one of our most important environmental champions, helping thousands of Astoria families access the great outdoors and healthy foods,” Kaufman Astoria Studios Vice President Tracy Capune said. “On behalf of Innovation QNS, we couldn’t be prouder to support this new commitment to raising a healthier future for Astoria.”