Farm Exchange

By Phyllis Odessey

Farmers like to share.  It’s a giving profession.  Squash vine borers, Septoria lyucopersici or just plain squirrels might not sound exciting, but to a farmers these diseases and pests rock our boat.  We went down to Battery Park to meet some of our fellow urban farmers and be inspired.  We were not disappointed.

The Urban Farm at the Battery is under the direction of Camilla Hammer.

On Wednesday, Nick Storrs, Nina Dotti, Eunyoung Sebazco and I went down to the Battery and met Camilla and her staff.  The farm at The Battery is unique in its outline.  The farm is in the shape of the beloved Battery turkey, Zelda, who roams the park.  The fence was  designed in conjunction with the Stam Brothers of Big Bambu , the sculpture on the roof of  the Metropolitan Museum last year.  After the show closed in 2011, Executive Director,Warrie Price of The Battery Conservancy secured some of the bamboo, which now makes one of the most unusual fences you will ever see.

Camilla and her staff and her gave us a guided tour of the one acre farm.  We talked about the Battery program.  “Battery Urban Farm is a one acre educational farm located in historic Battery Park.  As an educational farm, our mission is to inspire and educate youth, our downtown community, and the general public about growing (and eating) great food.  We offer a variety of opportunities for students and youth of all ages to experience the best the farm has to offer.”  The farm offers opportunities for very young children, the City Seedlings Program, teacher led classes, who have their own plots, Farm-Educator led classes and an Enrichment Program, which are basically farm field trips for all ages).

In addition, the Battery Urban Farm has extensive community outreach program.  They offer workshops on Saturdays, supply two schools with produce and have a variation on a conventional CSA.  All this has been accomplished in two years.  To say it’s awesome is an understatement.

If you are ever depressed about the state of the world or climate change or politics, I suggest talking to an urban farmer.  Our spirits are lifted everyday by the work we do.  We are lucky to have the opportunity to work for supportive non-profit conservancies and alliances that make urban farming possible in public parks.

If you are interested in volunteering at The Learning Garden or helping us expand our programming, please contact:  phyllis.odessey@parks.nyc.gov

To learn more about the Urban Farm at Battery Park:

http://www.thebattery.org/projects/battery-urban-farm

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