Bushwick non-profit Ecostation:NY has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a community-oriented rooftop farm. The group plans to build the aptly named “Farm-In-The-Sky” atop the Mayday Space, a new center for “social justice organizing, community empowerment and creative expression” to open this summer at 214 Starr Street. But, they need your help to make the rooftop farm of their dreams–and one that should make all of Bushwick proud–a reality. EcoStation’s Kickstarter fundraising goal is $30,000, which they must raise by July 10 in order to secure the funds to implement their grand plans for Farm-In-The-Sky.
EcoStation, which runs Bushwick Farmers’ Market and Bushwick Campus Farm and Greenhouse, projects that for the past several years have helped increase access to fresh produce among Bushwick’s poor and worked to empower the community through urban agriculture, also plans to make the new co-working space at Mayday its new headquarters. Maggie Cheney, EcoStation’s Director of Farms and Education, told Bushwick Daily that the move to Mayday and the construction of Farm-In-The-Sky on site represents “the next stage in EcoStation’s growth” and will increase their capacity to respond to the growing interest in the community in urban agriculture and the health and environmental issues they seek to address. According to the Kickstarter page, the 10,000 square feet of farming space at Mayday, which includes the rooftop and a terrace one floor below, will nearly double EcoStation’s overall urban farm production space. EcoStation plans to complete basic construction by the end of September. Farm-In-The-Sky will be designed around sustainable practices, including a solar-powered irrigation system that uses harvested rainwater.
This will be EcoStation’s second effort to establish a rooftop farm in Bushwick. Their first, which was also called Farm-In-The-Sky, was located atop Brooklyn Fire Proof and operated for two seasons before being put on hold in 2012 in order to find a better site for a more permanent rooftop farm. EcoStation was able to secure a five-year lease for the space at Mayday, and the new site is closer to the students at the Bushwick Campus high schools who make up EcoStation’s paid summer internship program. These youth are instrumental to the plans for Farm-In-The-Sky; half of the funds that EcoStation hopes to raise via Kickstarter would be used to pay stipends to 14 youth interns who will spend the summer helping to design and construct the new farm.
“Farm-In-The-Sky is an incredibly unique project,” said Cheney, because not only will it foster experimentation in urban farming and form part of a community hub, “it is also employing youth.” The presence of the youth at the new farm, she said, will also help “bridge the gap between new people coming into Bushwick and families that have been here for generations,” alluding to the rapid gentrification of the area surrounding the Jefferson Street L-train stop where Mayday is located. Although the plans for Farm-In-The-Sky call for it to eventually sell some of its produce at local restaurants to help cover operating costs, the farm, Cheney said, will demonstrate that growing food in the city is “not just about fancy restaurants.” Instead, she said, this rooftop farm will be about creating community and providing neighborhood youth with a valuable learning experience that may forever change how they view their food–and their planet.
For more information about EcoStation’s plans for Farm-In-The-Sky or to help fund the project, check out its Kickstarter page.