stone soup blogFor a few months now, the farm has been mostly resting as we continue to get the final harvests from our kale and collards, lettuce and arugula, purple top turnips and watermelon radishes. Those few crops are trying to stay warm under low-tunnels or braving it in the elements. Instead of suffering out there with the plants they tended all fall, our student farmers get to have the farm come to their classroom! Every year November through March we bring farm fresh tastings, science projects, and stories to schools to share with our 1st grade student farmers. After working outside all fall and preparing to return and work on the farm all spring, this is a great chance for us to cook, draw, read and discover new questions to explore.

An important topic to discuss in the winter is seasonal eating. We all love to eat, eat, eat during these cold months – but if food isn’t growing on the farm, where is it coming from? So in the middle of winter we learn about the crops that can take a little chill (carrots and spinach), crops we can grow in a greenhouse (lettuce and radishes), ones we can harvest and store (onions and sweet potatoes), and of course those that must be grown somewhere warmer and shipped to our NYC plates (bell peppers and tomatoes).

One of the easiest crops to preserve for the winter is herbs. Back in October we harvested and dried mint and lemon balm to enjoy during our lesson on seasonal eating. After exploring how we are able to enjoy our favorite winter meals, we all sit down on the classroom carpet with a hot cup of refreshing tea and Stone Soup. The mint and lemon balm tea made from our farm herbs goes great with a story all about sharing what you’ve got, and building a community that supports each other. These are messages that we practice every day on the farm, and they are important ones to continue practicing even after the holiday season.

Sip on your own cup of tea along with a winter read:

  • 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp dried lemon balm
  • Sugar and lemon juice to taste

This tea will boost your immune system and invigorate your senses. Enjoy after a hot bowl of stone soup!


Written by Anna Scott Ellis, Farm Educator 


The Staff of The Battery Conservancy was informed last week that Zelda, its resident wild turkey, had been hit by a car as she walked along South Street toward Pier 11.  Zelda had become the endearing wildlife symbol of the parks revitalization over the past eleven years.  She made her first appearance on May 5, 2003 when garden designer, Piet Oudolf and 50 volunteers planted the Gardens of Remembrance along the waterfront in honor of all the survivors of 9/11 who had fled to safety through the park.

Zelda became a beloved member of The Battery Conservancy team, taking care to make an appearance at every Conservancy event. Since the first Battery Gardeners’ Luncheon in 2003 and her first Battery Gala in 2004, Zelda was seen and photographed mingling among the guests before returning to her favorite trees to roost and watch the lively movement of the park’s visitors.

Zelda’s last appearances were at the 11th annual Battery Gardeners Luncheon, on September 17th, making sure to greet guests as they arrived, and at the previous day’s Conservancy board meeting, where she monitored the discussions of the park’s future from a nearby tree.

The memory of Zelda’s days in The Battery and the fact that she had an unusually long life leaves us with a legacy of encouragement, a dedication to continuing to nurture these 25 aces of historic landscape and to forge ahead to complete the Park’s improvement.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this year’s Earth Fest! We had a fantastic turn out and we want to thank all of our visitors and community participants for making this family-friendly event such a success.

Earth Fest is our free annual event that showcases New York’s commitment to sustainability and greening our communities.  This year’s event included rice planting with Randall’s Island Urban Farm and sweet pea planting with PS3 Charrette Elementary School. Guests were also invited to visit some animals—Sprout By Design showcased an aquaponic system with crabs, fish, and frogs; Billion Oysters Project brought an oyster demonstration; and local beekeepers from BeeVillage brought a demonstration hive. We also had lots of arts and crafts, with rubber band painting from Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day (and samples!), natural dye painting with Battery Urban Farm’s apprentices, nature-themed crafts from The New School, and a wool-spinning how-to from the Queens County Farm Museum.

It wasn’t all crafting though–Millennium HS brought their very popular “What’s Your Water Footprint” game and sent participants running around the farm! Musicians Brian Dolphin, Gotham City Pickers, and the 5 Mile String Band had everyone singing along and tapping their feet, if not all out dancing through the park. To top it all off, visitors also enjoyed delicious cookies, lemonade, sandwiches, and more from local eateries, Ciao for Now and Gogo Grill.

Even with the rainy forecast, Earth Fest was a huge, sunny success and we hope that all those who participated continue to learn about sustainability and become empowered to help make a greener New York City.

Thanks for joining us and we can’t wait to see you in October for Harvest Fest!



Students from PS 276 weeding out chickweed

Students from PS 276 weeding out chickweed

Yay – spring is here and we couldn’t be happier!  Classes have returned to the farm to start pulling up those pesky weeds, amending the farm’s soil with fresh compost, and planting many, many seeds.

Our first graders have been caring for lettuce and scallion seedlings back in their classrooms, and this past week they finally got to move them out to the farm. What should we cook with these ingredients – delicious scallion and herb pestos? Fresh springtime salads? Our students are very excited to continue watching their plants grow and we cannot wait for harvest time.

We’ve also had some amazing Farm Field Trips from PS 8 in Brooklyn. The 5th grade classes got a lot of work done from planting arugula, lettuce mixes and radishes to harvesting compost and finding tons of decomposers. We spent our class learning about the seeds we eat, and before we planted any in the ground we learned about the different parts of a seed and how they germinate. The students were surprised to realize how many seeds end up in their daily meals – from peanuts to black beans, the accidental apple seed and the wheat and cacao in their chocolate chip cookies.


Students from PS8 planting spicy lettuce mix

Students from PS8 planting spicy lettuce mix

At the end of the class the students reflected on their favorite parts of the visit. It was clear that the compost was a hit:

“I liked composing with my friends.”

“I liked seeing people getting excited about touching the worm.”

“I liked smelling the compost.”

“I liked feeling and finding the worms.”


And best of all:

“I loved everything about the Battery Farm. I like getting to be here and be outside.”


What a way to start off the season!