It's December at the Bed-Stuy Farm and our extended season growing is coming to an end. We are harvesting the last of our tomatoes and peppers while planning for next years growing season. We have 4 new youth farmers this winter and have jumped right into the work of cleaning the hydroponic system. We are taking advantage of the 60 degree weather this past week and emptied the water from our hydroponic system being careful to use it to water our evergreen plants, compost and worms. The new farmers are just learning the basics but they will soon be up to speed on all of our farm duties including working with the worms, caring for the chickens and working with the hydroponic system.
This Summer at the Bed-Stuy Farm was full of life and youthful energy. It was our first summer with our new greenhouse and hydroponics system. We added many potted pepper plants, tomatoes, and eggplants to feed our community through the food pantry and community farmers market. Our farm interns Marcquis, Erica, Kenny and Dwayne spent the summer planting in pots for the greenhouse and in rows outdoors. This was a year we grew most of our crops from seeds instead of seedlings. We had son highly skilled interns with a very green touch the farm looks amazing.
We had many visitors to the farm this summer. We hosted a local youth group who helped us move plants in and our of the greenhouse with wheel barrows, many children from local daycare centers, senior high school and middle school administrators and a missionary group from Montreal Canada who worked on our farm for one full week. We also had visitors from the Bird's Nest Foundation Dylan's Lunchbox and Tracie McMillian author of The American Way of Eating. Three of our youth interns had an extraordinary summer experience from seed to the farmers market and discovered they had special customer service skills along the way. We thank all of our donors who help make this summer a huge success.
This Spring, nine of our farm interns learn how to maintain our hydroponic food system in an April workshop taught by MPS Consulting. Our farm interns cleaned and sanitized the grow bed and styrofoam rafts making room for our new seedlings to be planted in the hydroponic system. The interns learned how to take apart the food system and rebuild or replace worn out parts. The farm interns also planted seeds in the growing medium to ensure that we have continuous food ready for the Brooklyn Rescue Mission food pantry. This week the youth will harvest Swiss Chard and Kale for distribution at the pantry, we are also keeping a close watch on our tomatoes which has alread begun fruiting.
We have been busy, busy, busy with our greenhouse and aquaponic growing project. The first bed is up and we are happy to see some baby bok choy and deer tongue lettuce emerging. We are still in the process of adding the fish tank to the large bed but that has not stopped the greens from growing. We are now preparing to add the fish tank with fish included to the system. We have completed the work on the heater, the fan for cooling (not needed yet) and all the electrical outlets. We are still in the process of mastering the greenhouse computer system control and all of our youth interns are super excited. We have one more huge step to complete and that is the fish. We are also considering adding another growing bed to double our food production and a bucket system to grow tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. I like to thank everyone for your continued support on our fish project and by the way the chickens are doing fine 13 eggs today!
Our second greenhouse for our large aquaponics system is almost complete. We have been working hard and discovered many unexpected twists and turns during the construction process. We are still in need of purchasing and equipment for the project including growing beds,seeds and tanks for the fish house. We also still need to install the electrical system but everything looks good and we should be growing food by December. As the weather turns colder our youth interns are learning alot and really appreciate the concept of working inside of a warm greenhouse.
We look forward to hosting more youth from our local high school and introducing everyone to our fish, chickens and worms. It has been alot of hard work but it will all be worth it when our youth farm interns become the youth farm experts and we begin to share our vision with others in the community. We look forward to sharing the photos of our first winter greens with everyone in December / January.
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