Frequently Asked Questions
I would love to get involved. How can I can help?
We always welcome volunteers and sponsors, and are so appreciative of anyone in a position to donate time, services, or supplies to The Battery Conservancy in support of Battery Urban Farm. You can make a donation to our project, or click here for more information on volunteer opportunities. You can also sign up for our mailing list, where you will receive our monthly e-newsletter and announcements about apprenticeships, special events, and more!
Can I bring my class (or my child’s class) to the farm for a visit?
Yes! For more information on Farm Field Trips, see our Youth Education page.
What are you growing on the farm?
We grow a polyculture (as opposed to a monoculture) of generally annual vegetable crops. Last year we grew a wide variety of vegetables and companion plants. This year, we have expanded by adding grains (oats! popcorn!), select fruits, and cut flowers. Here are some of the varieties we grew in our first year:
Basil (purple, Genovese)
Bush Beans (yellow, green, purple)
Pole Beans (various Italian/French)
Beets (red, Chioggia)
Carrots (orange, Scarlet Nantes)
Chard (Bright Lights)
Cucumbers (Diva, Lemon)
Eggplant (Italian, Asian, other)
Kale (curly Winterbor, Lacinato)
Lettuce (Buttercrunch, organic mix, Mottistone, Romaine—Jericho, Rhazes)
Onion (Scallions, King Richard leek, sweet)
Peas (Snap and pea)
Peppers (Italian, poblano, jalapeno, Asian, bell)
Radish (French Breakfast, Pink Beauty)
Summer Squash (zucchini, yellow crookneck, scallopini)
Tomatoes (Big Red type, Green Zebra, Striped German, Sun Gold, Purple heirloom)
As an educational farm, our mission is to get the food that we grow to schools and into the homes of our young student farmers. With help from the Garden to School Cafe program, we are thrilled to be sending much of our produce during the school year to the cafeterias of two downtown schools! In addition to getting food into school cafeterias and harvesting much of it for tastings with each class and field trip, we also offer our produce in a Pick Your Own Farm Share and donate it to local food pantries.
Where did your soil come from? Is it organic?
Our organic soil is a specialized vegetable mix that we purchased from Long Island Compost.
Do you compost?
Yes! We teach composting in our classes, and are an official NYC Compost Demonstration Project site, and compost as much of our green material as we can fit in our three-bin compost system, built with help from the NYC Compost Project in Manhattan! Click here for photos of the compost build-out. Additionally, as of October 2013 we are processing food waste for a new compost drop-off at GrowNYC‘s Bowling Green Greenmarket on Tuesdays. All compostable plant materials will first go into a mesh receptacle, located to the right of the wooden compost bins, in the tail of the turkey. From here it will be processed and distributed into the compost bins as needed to maintain appropriate green/brown ratios, pile temperature, etc.
We ask that individuals not bring any waste to the farm unless you have read the compost signage as to what can go into the greens and browns — and what can’t — or unless you have cleared it with the farm manager. Please read the signage at the compost bins for more information on appropriate waste products and where they should go.
Why is the farm built in the shape that it is? What is the fence made of?
Battery Urban Farm was conceived by New York designer Scott Dougan, who designed the farm in the shape of a wild turkey in a playful tribute to Zelda, a wild American turkey who has resided at The Battery since 2003. Tracing a perimeter that evokes Zelda’s silhouette, including her distinctive head and tail feathers, Dougan with architect partner Shane Neufeld utilized over 5,000 bamboo poles which were donated to the Conservancy by renowned artists Mike and Doug Starn.
The bamboo is re-purposed from their internationally acclaimed installation work Big Bambú: You Can’t, You Don’t, and You Won’t Stop, which occupied The Metropolitan Museum of Art Roof Garden during the summer and early autumn of 2010.
How and when did Battery Urban Farm get started?
Our project began with a request in November 2010 from students of Millennium High School’s Environmental Club, who asked to plant a vegetable garden in the park. Saying YES launched a farming initiative that included 30 schools and summer camp groups and 1,800 students (PreK-12) in 2012 — plus a wide array of community groups, residents, tourists and the neighboring workforce who long to give their hands and hearts to cultivating and harvesting home-grown food. Read more about our history here.
How long will Battery Urban Farm be in place?
Battery Urban Farm is here to stay! The farm will be ever-so-slightly relocated to a more permanent location after the completion of the Battery Bikeway Gardens in 2014-15. As a new and fast-growing program, we need your support. Please consider making a donation today!
How else can I be involved in urban farming and school gardening?
If your school has a garden, register with Grow to Learn! Or if you are an educator interested in incorporating garden education into your school, consider applying for our Teacher Training Program.
Read more about the great work that organizations such as GrowNYC, Grow to Learn, Just Food, and other NYC urban farmers/gardeners are doing at Brooklyn Grange, Bushwick Campus Farm, City Growers, Eagle Street Rooftop Farms, East New York Farms, Edible Schoolyard NYC, North Brooklyn Farms, Queens County Farm Museum, Randall’s Island Urban Farm, Red Hook Community Farm / Added Value, and elsewhere.
Other resources include ATTRA: National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, National Farm to School Network New York, Northeast Organic Farming Association of NY, Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, and The Virtual Grange.