Battery Urban Farm is an agricultural oasis nestled in the heart of the hustle and bustle of Battery Park in downtown Manhattan. The farm’s organic aesthetic is defined by a beautiful bamboo fence enclosing the beautiful vegetation.
In the spirit of sustainability and reusing our valuable resources, the bamboo material was donated by the Starn Brothers, the makers of the “Big Bambú: You Can’t, You Don’t and You Won’t Stop,” a big bamboo sculpture that was once on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Inside the bamboo fence grows an abundance of super local goodness. Orange and pink flowers pop up amongst the lettuces, kale, chard, squash, cucumbers, carrots, beets, tomatoes, radishes, corn, grains, and culinary and medicinal herbs. Buzzing through the greenery, bees grace the space with their powers of pollination.
Battery Urban Farm, a project of the The Battery Conservancy, is an educational urban farm in its 2nd season. The project was initiated by high school students curious to learn about growing vegetables as part of their environmental club. After asking for a small piece of land to cultivate, the students were gifted with over an acre of Battery Park.
The project has far extended beyond a high school gardening project and now hosts many programs in addition to student programs including a local CSA, monthly adult volunteer days, a local community garden for businesses and organizations and regular workshops open to the public. The farm also nourishes local school cafeterias through the Garden to School Cafe Program, as well as providing produce for 2 restaurants, the North End Grill and the Ritz Battery Park Restaurant.
Among the rows and sections of vibrant vegetables, one can find the “Looking Glass Garden,” a section of themed gardens hosting plants traditional to different regions around the world. The Dutch Garden honors the history of people who settled New York, then called New Amsterdam, bringing their Dutch produce from across the seas.
A teepee structure stands tall in the midst of the urban landscape as part of the Lenape Garden, supporting the “three sisters,” a technique used by the Native Americans to farm corn, beans and squash. The 3 vegetables symbiotically support one another, the beans climb up the corn and the squash protects the ground. The Global Garden grows produce that originated from other continents. The Pollinator Garden attracts bees and butterflies. The Grain Garden grows wild oats, quinoa and amaranth. Students participating in the growing of the farm learn history by getting their hands dirty, touching these agricultural traditions.
The Battery Urban Farm is one of many budding urban farming projects. As people awaken to the value of local food, there is an increasing trend of connecting directly to the source of our food and with that, the greening of the urban landscape. Life is more vibrant when we have opportunities to see where food comes from and maybe even get our hands a little dirty. Other creative and inspiring urban farming projects are The Brooklyn Grange and Truck Farms.