This week Millennium High School came out to help us inoculate our blue oyster mushroom logs! We drilled holes in the logs, hammered in the ‘plugs,’ and sealed them up with wax to keep out any moisture or foreign fungi. Over the course of the next few months, the mycelium will start growing inside the log connecting together in a giant web and within a year, we’ll have mushrooms to eat!

The process begins with logs that are 4 to 8 inches in diameter. We drilled holes in a diamond pattern 4 to 5 inches apart in rows 1 to 2 inches apart all the way around the log. Next, we hammered in the wooden plugs that are covered in the blue oyster mushroom spawn (Pleurotus columbinus). Then we sealed each hole with wax to keep the good fungus in and the bad fungus out. For now, we’ll keep the logs stacked in a shady spot and water them to keep them moist.

Over the course of the next few months, the mycelium will start growing inside the log connecting together in a giant web. Mycelium, by the way, is the white, stringy material you see when you pull up bark on a decaying log in the woods. The mycelium will grow and grow until it’s ready to fruit and send out its spores—that’s when we’ll see mushrooms! For the blue oyster mushrooms that could be as early as this fall, but could take up to a year.



Practicing classroom-friendly recipes with Battery Urban Farm produce.

Sheri Sankner is a science teacher at P.S. 31 in Greenpoint. Even with a self-proclaimed lack of a green thumb Sheri has designed a beautiful garden with enthusiastic support from her school community.

“Working with the Battery Urban Farm training program has been one of the most rewarding, worthwhile, and beneficial learning experiences of my 12-year teaching career. With a brown thumb at best before, I was worried about starting a schoolyard garden at P.S. 31 Samuel F. Dupont Elementary in Brooklyn. I now feel confident that I can spearhead this new gardening program with our eager students. The content of every class was helpful and interesting. The instructors, Anna Scott Ellis and Josie Connell, were insightful and supportive in giving us their valuable input and wonderful lesson plans, as well as offering us a wealth of resources. I loved the various field trips we took, not only to their beautiful Battery Urban Farm, but also the Edible Schoolyard in Brooklyn, and the other rooftop and schoolyard gardens in Manhattan and the Bronx. It was also a lot of fun cooking harvest goodies with Jennie Plewka from Red Rabbit as well. Since taking the training course, I have established a Gardening Committee at P.S. 31, received a grant from Grow to Learn to start our garden with four raised beds, established a timeline for a Spring/Summer garden, and created a workable crop plan.  I even have a parent volunteer who is master woodworker to build the beds and benches we need for our outdoor learning garden. I will also be distributing 10 indoor subirrigated planters to science and some classroom teachers so that our planting can actually begin indoors next month. We look forward to a wonderful crop of herbs and vegetables.”

By the end of the spring P.S. 31 will go from a concrete play yard to 4 raised beds growing herbs, lettuce, kale, snap peas and so much more. We can’t wait to see how this garden grows!


All bundled up harvesting compost at P.S. 216.

Ahmed Salama, an ESL teacher, joined us from P.S. 386 in The Bronx. Ahmed already had a small garden at his school and is working to expand his growing space and encourage more teachers to enjoy the garden with their students.

“One of the best educational choices I have made was joining the Battery Conservancy Teacher Training Program. My learning experience has been both rewarding and edifying. The urban farming course is well organized, smoothly paced and rigorous. The learn-by-doing approach made newly acquired learning comprehensible and lasting. The seamless combination of hands-on, class work and field visits allowed me to consolidate concepts of urban farming and conservancy. The instructors’ wide and deep level of knowledge allowed them to design coherent and well structured lessons. Through the training program, participants were able to connect and build a network of urban farmers throughout the city which allows for further collaboration and support. I feel very proud to be part of the urban farming movement in New York City.”

Now it is time for us to get into the heavy lifting, measuring, sawing, hammering, shoveling and of course seeding to grow Ahmed’s garden from 4 to 10 raised beds. It’ll be hard work, but we know he’s up to the job.


If you are an elementary public school teacher and you are interested in participating in our 2015/2016 Teacher Training Program, please email
Wishing everyone an amazing 2015 growing season.


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 

2 Watering Peanuts

Remember when we planted peanuts back in May?

Excited about this experiment, we spent the season watching closely as the plants grew larger and larger, producing flowers and what we hoped would be peanuts below the surface.

peanuts transition

NYC has a healthy squirrel population and, since they already use our farm for burying treasure and chewing through irrigation for some fine NYC water, we knew they’d be excited to find peanuts on the menu.  We started out by covering the bed with a row cover immediately after planting. We pinned it down all the way around to be sure they couldn’t get underneath.

Towards the end of the growing process, the peanut plants outgrew our covers and we (reluctantly) uncovered them so they could get the maximum amount of sun.  For the first couple of weeks, we thought the squirrels had been thrown off by the lush green plants but they did eventually figure out the delicious treats that lay just under the soil.

Peanuts take almost our whole frost-free season to grow (mid-May through mid-October) and we had planned to harvest in October. After the squirrels discovered the plants, we decided to harvest, right at the beginning of September. With fingers crossed, we pulled up the plants.

We were pleasantly surprised! The plants were covered in peanuts!

8 Peanut Harvest 3

Most peanut farms will leave the plants out on the ground, peanuts up, for up to three weeks (weather permitting). This allows the peanuts to dry on the plant and then they will be ready for storage or roasting almost immediately! As you might have guessed, we are not able to leave them outside for even a few hours. Instead, we pulled them off the plants and spread them in a single layer in a dark, dry space. After about 3 weeks they were dry! Next up – roasting. We can’t wait to try them!

Want to grow peanuts in YOUR NYC garden space? Here are some tips!

  1. Plant in loose, well-drained soil as soon as the danger of frost is gone; it’s safe on May 15th.  
  2. Cover your planted soil immediately with row covers that allow sun and water through.
  3. As the plants grow, prop the row covers up to allow space for the plants. Make sure to keep the bottom secure, though – those squirrels are crafty!
  4. Hill them up once the start to peg by adding more soil at the base of the plants. (Pegging is when the flower dives into the soil to produce the peanut underground.)
  5. Water regularly until the peanuts start to mature – peanuts like moist soil while they are growing, but if it is too moist once they form, they can rot. Check by digging around the base of the plant to see how big they are.
  6. Once harvested, let them dry inside in a dark, dry spot. Spread them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and mix them around every few days so they don’t stay wet on the bottom.
  7. Roast, boil, or toast (and don’t forget the salt!) and enjoy!


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.

josie eushavia katrina oysters

Now the BUF goes blue! This summer Battery Urban Farm is teaming up with the Billion Oyster Project to help clean up the New York Harbor and educate local students about marine ecology. Oysters, native to the NYC harbor, filter billions, even trillions, of tons of water each year. By placing our oysters in the New York Harbor we will help improve the quality of water and general health of our local environment. Here at the BUF, we have adopted four oyster cages, all bustling with aquatic life, with the ultimate goal of expanding our education programs to include topics such as water quality and ecological resilience, while expanding our understanding of the urban ecosystem.

This effort not only pioneers a new perspective on sustainability and waste reduction, but also gives students across the city an exciting opportunity to get hands on experiences with aquatic science. As an apprentice I have been lucky enough to witness the magic of opening one of our cages and observing the oysters’ growth, as well identifying all of the other marine species found in the harbor. I can’t wait to see the programs growth in the coming years, and the changing landscape of New York City!

By Eushavia Bogan, Battery Urban Farm apprentice


We are thrilled to introduce you to our stellar team of Battery Urban Farm education apprentices! You’ve already met Anandi, but now it’s time to meet…


Eushavia earned a B.A. from Vassar College in Environmental Studies with a focus in ecology and political geography. She completed a thesis on the pedagogy behind school gardens, and hoped to pursue this topic professionally. She was initially drawn to The Battery Urban Farm because of its focus on food system education and integrated learning; but also thoroughly enjoys the opportunity to work with her hands, and team of students outside–sharing the joys growing, tending, and eating delicious foods!


Shannon is a sociologist-turned-chef and food educator, who earned her Master’s in Sociology at American University in D.C. before becoming a certified Natural Chef at Bauman College in Berkeley, CA.  She comes to The Battery Urban Farm to enhance the farm side of her farm-to-fork community education goals.  She loves watching people of all ages taste new fruits and vegetables and discover a world of fresh flavors that should be accessible to everyone!


Katrina Ceguera developed her interest in food justice while pursuing Environmental Studies at UC Santa Barbara. She came to Battery Urban Farm with the intention to learn the ins and outs of urban farming and eventually start her own urban food project. Her favorite thing is to watch a kid hold a worm for the first time.


Aaron graduated from the  University of New Mexico in Albuquerque with a major in inter cultural communications and a minor in sociology.
Aaron is in the program because it is his dream to work with plants and improve his community by teaching people how to grow their own food and eat healthier.
His biggest enjoyment is watching the farm mature and take shape through everyone’s hard work and watching the children light up with enthusiasm as they learn new topics.



By Anandi Premlall

From what I have seen as a Farm Educator Apprentice, Battery Urban Farm serves a key role in creating a tactile and aesthetic portrait of the farm to table experience in New York City. Being a student of Farm School NYC, as well as an advocate of food justice and food equity, it’s apparent how disconnected we are to the New York City food system, where in the world our food comes from, how our food is grown, what our food is fertilized with, and what kind of measures are taken to manage soil and control pests. Access to edible schoolyards, green space, and public gardens to grow local food in a way that respects our entire ecosystem is something that is often missing in our urban communities. Every time I plant a seed and come back a few days later to watch the tiny bits of green push through the dirt, I am in awe. I love that the magic of the seed, soil, Sun, and water come together to create such tender moments of beauty, and am grateful to take part in this bountiful harvest.

I find it a welcome challenge to work with youth groups and children who have little to no knowledge about what an urban farm is, and that there are different and commentary types of farming. A trip to Battery Urban Farm may have a profound effect on anyone who has little or no exposure to dirt in their neighborhoods and how they will relate to their food and environment afterwards. I often draw upon my own experiences as a third-world-country-gal-living-in-the-big-city to find ways to connect with the diverse landscape and foodscape there is among the five boroughs and share about what we do and teach at this farm in the park. I remember when I went on a field trip to Queens County Farm in elementary school and fell in love with it! Part of me felt at home being being among the animals and food growing just about everywhere.

It seemed massive and surreal that this farm could coexist with a city like ours. Before that trip, I didn’t know that there were farms in New York City, much less Queens. When our students learn which items in the garbage are sorted into either the landfill and compost bin with the Compost Relay Game, they may think a little differently about the effects of throwing an apple core or orange peels into the garbage, and how it collectively contributes to greenhouse gases and climate change. Realizing that something so simple can make a huge difference shifts a way of thinking and brings about the realization that the power to create change in our food system and waste stream literally lies in our own hands. Some of my students are surprised to find out that certain weeds are edible, start inquiring about which ones they can eat, are eager taste them, ask how vegetables grow and where the edible parts are: above (like kale, peppers, mint) and below (like peanuts, carrots, beets), and how food waste can be recycled by putting it in a bin with equal amount of browns or carbon to the greens or nitrogen. When bees and butterflies are spotted in action, it’s a perfect opportunity to talk about the role of pollinators in our food system.

I thrive on the excitement I see in the eyes of my students and their pleas of can I taste this, and this, and this — aaaaaand this!? I love that my students want to eat everything in sight and wish I could offer them a smorgasbord of local edibles that would create a permanent love of fresh food and the Earth. An immersion in urban farming may very well unlock a huge chunk of the puzzle in conquering childhood obesity, inspiring healthful lifestyles, and creating edible communities.
Being able to visualize and experience our food cycle with all of senses is not only wondrous, it also begs the question, why would we do it another way and toss our valuable resources into the landfill when we can heal our soil and grow more vegetables?






peanut plant

On May 2nd, a class of 2nd graders from P.S. 230 planted 3 varieties of peanuts on the farm. This was also the day Michael Tortorello from the New York Times came to interview Battery Urban Farm staff about our peanut planting experiment! (You can find the article here.) Since then, our peanuts have all germinated and grown quite a bit! After planting them, we quickly covered them with a row cover and have kept them in hiding from curious squirrels and birds for the last few weeks. So far they have stayed safely in place and are about 4 inches tall and growing. Soon we’ll insert hoops under the row cover to give the plants lots of space to grow while remaining protected. They’ll grow until the fall when we’ll see how our experiment went and what kind of harvest we get! Stay tuned…


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!