Southern Brooklyn

Kingsborough Launches Urban Farming Initiative

Courtesy of Paypaul via Flickr

by Ryan Maye Handy

English? Check. Biology? Check. Farming?


Kingsborough Community College will be the first higher-education institution in New York City to launch an urban farm tilled by students, the school announced on Wednesday.

Kingsborough is launching the “Build a Garden in Brooklyn” project to teach students about urban agriculture and organic farming practices. It will contribute produce to the Culinary Arts Program and the college cafeteria, according to project supervisor Dr. Stuart Schulman.

“The farm will function as an outdoor classroom,” said Schulman, who is also the Executive Director for Economic and Work Force Development at Kingsborough. “Instead of sitting in a classroom and talking about vegetables, students actually grow and harvest them.”

Schulman views the urban farm as a great opportunity to promote careers in what he calls a “green economy,” in a world where urban agriculture is becoming increasingly popular.

With the phenomenon on the rise in Brooklyn, Schulman felt that the school’s campus offers a unique urban opportunity that other city school’s can’t match. Unlike more “vertically oriented” CUNY campuses, Kingsborough sprawls across 70 acres of land, Schulman pointed out, and could expand upon the popular version of rooftop gardens.

The project was the brainchild of food and wine photographer Sara Matthews, also a Kingsborough professor. With her connections to California wine country, Matthews helped forge a partnership between the college and DeLoach Vineyards, a vineyard that practices organic and biodynamic farming. In the spring, DeLoach is delivering a gardener to Kingsborough to discuss landscaping and hold seminars on organic farming, according to the company’s marketing director Patrick Egan.

Although the urban farm is a Kingsborough initiative, DeLoach will also be donating to student scholarship funds, according to Schulman. From November until January 2011, for every DeLoach wine purchased in New York City, the company will donate fifty cents to Kingsborough.

At this point, the urban farm is still in its beginning stages, and Schulman said that there is no specific plan for what kinds of produce will be grown.

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  1. I mean, that is pretty fucking awesome, but can’t they work on smaller things that every student can benefit from first? Like, I dunno, more computers with Internet access? More frequent shuttle buses?

  2. Hold up. There was just an article about them not having money or money being taken from them. Now they want to spend money on farming. How about the school invest some Money into signs that read DRIVE SAFE or SLOW DOWN ASSHOLE and put them in the parking lots.

  3. It looks to me like this project is funded by a private company through a targeted donation. Such donations usually come with a requirement for the funds to be spent in a specific way (for a specific project). In this case, its an urban farm.

    “In the spring, DeLoach is delivering a gardener to Kingsborough to discuss landscaping and hold seminars on organic farming”
    That’s what the wine company (not the college) decided to spend their money on. IMHO, thats a much better investment a company can make, comparing to buying elections under Citizens United decision.

  4. R u kidding me or what….again with this? They just put a 1.6 MILLION dollar farm in the back of ps216 on avenue x. for what? Do the kids really need to farm. Do they really need a farm at the school. Cant they go to a real farm for the 1x a year field trip. 1.6MILLION dollars could have been spend much more responsibly not on a farm that will probably be turned back into concrete in a year or 2. Give me a break, go to the produce isle at your nearest grocery store to get all the vegetables that you need…..and dont forget that BENEFIT card 😉

  5.  They have been trying to start this for years. I, myself, when I taught at KCC, attempted to get students involved in a gardening project and got less than 20 signatures during their Eco-Fest one year. As far as I know there are still beds that are unused on top of one of the buildings (I forget which). I hope that because there’s actual funding (and not someone trying to garner funding), that it actually works this time.

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