Battery Urban Farm changes landscapes and mindscapes

A mere stone's throw from the 4/5 Bowling Green station is a small urban farm that yields herbs, vegetables and fertile soil from compost.

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In real estate it’s all about location, location, location, and the same is true for sustainable environments. The landscapes people encounter and interact with daily are the ones that need to be greened, not those on the fringe that require people to deviate from their usual paths just to get there.

Battery Urban Farm operates in conjunction with Battery Park Conservancy Credit: Rachel Northrop

In Battery Park, compost is decomposing, vegetables and herbs are growing, students are learning, and urban landscapes are shifting. A mere stone’s throw from the 4/5 Bowling Green station is a small urban farm that yields herbs, vegetables, and fertile soil from compost. Last Wednesday, at a fundraising dinner held by NRDC, diners enjoyed a meal made entirely from the farm’s yield. Battery Urban Farm is sustainable in its practice and its design; the bamboo fencing is entirely reclaimed from last summer’s rooftop installation at the Met.

Battery Urban farm is clearly a success, with hearty green plants, veggies and herbs in full bloom. Manhattan is ripe for harvest. Credit: Rachel Northrop

Walking off the sidewalk into the grass around the farm is refreshingly un-Manhattan-like. The difference in surface between pavement and earth is noticeable, but most New Yorkers in their daily bustle don’t have the chance to experience both.

Many incredible NYC farms are in the outer boroughs or Harlem, and therefore off the radar of many. While Battery Urban Farm is moderate in size (it feels more large vegetable patch then farm), it is completely visible, centrally located, and 100 percent open to anyone to see, smell, and touch. You can pass by buildings housing incredible rooftop farms and never know it from street level, but hundreds of thousands of commuters heading to and from South Ferry pass the farm daily, and thousands more Wall Street employees see it as they enter and exit massive office buildings.

Curious New Yorkers explore a new, sustainably urban landscape near their offices. Credit: Rachel Northrop

Battery Urban Farm marks the integration of sustainability into a familiar, corporate and concrete landscape of Manhattan. Nearby schoolchildren use the farm as a living classroom and volunteers work alongside Battery Conservancy employees to maintain it, but those most significantly affected by the farm are those who will probably never participate in it but simply see it.

The more visible and pervasive sustainability becomes, the more likely it also becomes that residents who are not particularly “green” will begin to consider their own living and working environments in new, more sustainable ways.

Battery Urban Farm provides a reference point from which more urban farms inside existing city parks can stem. Imagine if Central Park, Bryant Park, Thompkins Square Park, Washington Square Park, Union Square, Madison Square Park, and Marcus Garvey Park all also had small urban farms to educate local students and feed nearby residents (think donations to food banks, even localer green markets, or even sales to restaurants).  The entire composition of the city could shift–CAN shift–as soon as we look places like Battery Urban Farm and conceive that it’s possible.

More details about the farm, here.

View slideshow: Battery Urban Farm

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