“I’m going to a farm,” I announced on a sweet afternoon in my humble Bushwick dwelling. I have to say that my roommate, as well as myself were surprised by the sound of these words, because let’s face it, you can say many things about Bushwick (like that it’s lovable, enjoyable, inspiring), but certainly it’s not the greenest place on Earth. If I try really hard I can name 5 locations with trees in my close neighborhood (maybe)… And now I know a place right here on 897 Broadway between Arion and Belvedere with a greenhouse, compost, heard of chicken, 1 duck and a bunch of shy kittens. Yes, it’s Bushwick City Farm.
I am meeting Masha and her boyfriend Vinnie who have gotten things moving. With the help of community they have turned a vacant lot between two houses into a city farm. They cleaned the lot, built shelters for animals and for virtually 800 single dollar bills they had collected from donations, they bought a stack of fresh soil. Masha says that the soil in the entire Tri-Sate Area is toxic, so they elevated a part of the lot, covered it with fresh soil, built a greenhouse and planted vegetables there.
The chickens are slowly loosing their fear of me and they are curiously checking out my camera. I’m paying my respect to the huge rooster who is proudly bossing around. Masha explains that most of the chickens are rescues from Pollo Viviero, a nearby slaughterhouse where they keep them in terrible conditions. People sometimes bring them new chickens, or they just find them on the street in front of the farm. New additions to the poultry team first have to spend couple of day in an isolated shelter for quarantine.
Masha and Vinnie also collect books and clothes. They made friends among organic grocery stores and bakeries who give them food for free. On the need basis they give it away with all the vegetables, fruit and eggs from the farm to the local people. They teach English and organize workshops where they teach urban people about farming. They have seen school kids discovering on the farm that chickens and eggs have something in common… Masha smiles that they bring generations together. Grandparents explain to the kids how they used to have chicken in the old country.
The volunteers are always welcomed at the farm and you can help, donate and enjoy at the same time this weekend already. From Friday through Sunday at 1-7pm you can come to hang out at the farm, observe social relations in the heard of poultry, play with kittens, drink hot cocoa, taste organic food and enjoy books with Masha and Vinnie.