Bushwick City Farm

has taken over a new vacant lot at Stockton Street and has been converting it into a little urban farming paradise. Go check it out and stop by at their

art show benefit

on Friday and Saturday from 6pm to 11pm at a brand new Bushwick gallery 3rdEye(Sol)ation Gallery (1501 Broadway)…

In the early 90s, growing up in Bushwick, a group of neighborhood kids, their parents and some local officials got together and decided to start up a community garden near the apartment on Garden Street (rather appropriate) where I was raised. Still, I remember getting my hands dirty while planting trees, learning about different types of soil and looking on in awe how we could grow fresh fruits and vegetables on our own–something this city kid had never even dreamed of doing before.

While that community garden is no longer there, Masha and Vinny of Bushwick City Farm are keeping the very ideals behind it alive and well with the work they’re doing around Bushwick these days. Back in March, Bushwick Daily visited their farm, a converted vacant lot at 897 Broadway which is now home to a greenhouse, chickens, ducks, farm cats, compost piles and even a beehive. This location is home to the operation they have going that provides food and used clothing, free of charge, to the needy throughout the Bushwick community.

Today, however, they are taking me on a tour of their latest project, the conversion of a 9000 square foot lot on the corner of Stockton Street and Lewis Avenue. The long-neglected lot will become home to their newest farm site, over four times larger than their Broadway location.

As we walk from the Broadway farm to the Stockton site, Masha and Vinny know nearly everyone we pass on the street–local business owners, parents with their children, even the guys hanging out in front of the bodega, and all smile at the sight of these two neighborhood activists and all have something nice to say. This type of interaction illustrates just how much the pair loves and cares for the community and why they take on the countless hours of work needed to convert empty lots into vibrant farms and greenspaces that Bushwick sorely lacks.

It’s why they have food and clothing giveaways every Sunday (you can drop of any unneeded, gently used clothes along with any cooked or uncooked food at the farm on Saturday or Sunday), coordinate ESL classes and organize urban farming workshops. As they explain, while standing where herbs and vegetables will soon be planted, these sorts of projects build sustainable communities where everyone has a stake and a reason to participate. At the end of the day, this becomes more valuable to Bushwick than simply planting a garden.

Perhaps most impressive is that they undertake these projects with no government grants and no corporate sponsors or funding. Community members help out Bushwick City Farms in any way they can, whether it’s volunteering or giving a few dollars. That makes the tasks that much more difficult to complete, which is why they are organizing a fundraiser this weekend, May 27-28 from 6 to 11 pm at the 3rdEye(Sol)ation Gallery (1501 Broadway) featuring local art, refreshments and music. They have also set up a fundraising page at  IOBY, a site that supports local environmental projects (click here for the Bushwick City Farm IOBY page).

So swing by their benefit or, at the very least, donate through the IOBY page so these two can continue the great work they’re doing!