“I would rather stay here and eat salad than go to recess.”
-- Battery Urban Student Farmer, 3rd Grade
Here's what you need to know about Battery Urban Farm, and why we need your help:
First, watch the video above, and see why we are more fun than recess. Battery Urban Farm is a one-acre educational community farm located in The Battery, one of New York City’s most famous and beloved parks. We teach children how to grow and eat healthy food, and provide a thriving public farm to the 6 million visitors, residents, and commuters who pass through our park every year.
Battery Urban Farm Staff teach free and suggested-donation classes to thousands of students from all over New York City. In order to keep our programs running, we need support from YOU – our community, our city, and anyone who believes in the power of knowing where our food comes from.
Support from our community became even more crucial last fall when Superstorm Sandy hit - our offices were completely destroyed, our farm flooded.
We have worked hard through the winter to rebuild and recover, but now we need some help. We are calling on all of you to support Battery Urban Farm and help keep us growing veggies and growing farmers. Here's how far we've already come:
- In our first year, 2011, we taught 870 students from 11 different schools
- In 2012, those numbers doubled: 1,800 students from 30 schools visited, learned, and tasted from the farm
- It’s early in 2013, and already we have requests for 1,500 students from 23 schools to come learn with us
WHAT WILL OUR NUMBERS BE IN 2013? This is up to you.
Support Battery Urban Farm and you ensure that we can say YES to every child and every request that comes our way.
As you can see from the numbers above, we receive a lot of requests, in part because we are fortunate enough to have our farm located in one of the most heavily trafficked areas in NYC, with 6 million visitors annually from across the globe. With your help in 2013, we will continue to thrive and show the world what’s possible when you combine an acre of land, an inspired community, and a whole lot of hard work.
The Battery Conservancy and Battery Urban Farm rely on the support from our generous donors to keep our programs running, and that need has grown even more since Superstorm Sandy. Help Battery Urban Farm meet our goal of $15,000 and 200 gifts in the next 40 days.
What your donation does:
- Ensures the continuation of our program despite the tremendous damage to our organization during Superstorm Sandy;
- Helps us continue to offer all our programs for free or a small suggested donation;
- Supports the salaries of the four dedicated staff members who made the dream of Battery Urban Farm a reality.
The kinds of things your donation will pay for:
- $25: New worms for our vermicompost system that was flooded in Superstorm Sandy
- $50: Pantry items for making salads and smoothies on the farm
- $100: A children’s bike to use with our bike blender for on-farm food prep
- $500: A Farm Share for a local family unable to afford a donation
- $1000: A year long share of vegetables for a school cafeteria that cannot afford a donation
Can’t donate? Here’s how else you can help!
- Share this campaign with your friends and family via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, carrier pigeon, or word of mouth!
- Write a blog post about us!
- Come to volunteer at the farm every Wednesday from 4pm-6pm and help us rebuild!
THE STORY of BATTERY URBAN FARM
The Battery Conservancy was created in 1994 to rebuild and revitalize The Battery and Castle Clinton National Monument. The Battery remains one of the oldest public open spaces in continuous use in New York City. The Conservancy honors and preserves this heritage by rebuilding the park’s landscape to interpret its past. The new landscape also celebrates the natural environment while meeting the needs of a growing residential population, crowds of bustling commuters and workers, and the millions of visitors who come from all over the world to see the Statue of Liberty, the magnificent harbor, and New York’s many cultural destinations.
In 2011, The Battery Conservancy received an intriguing request: Eight students from a local high school wanted to grow vegetables in the park. The Battery Conservancy saw an oppurtunity to take advantage of our highly visible location by building an interactive, productive and educational farm that had the potential to create real change in our community. So instead of saying YES to just eight students, we called every school in Lower Manhattan and invited them to come join us in building a farm right in the Financial District.
Though we only intended to run the farm for one year, the tremendous support from our community convinced us that the farm had to stay. Two years later, we have educated thousands of children and adults.
870 student farmers
1800 student farmers
1500 (So far…)
11 schools and camp groups
30 schools and camp groups
23 (So far…)
1100 (So far…)
Here at Battery Urban Farm, our goals are to educate youth and the public on growing and eating healthy food. Here’s how:
Healthy People: Empower NYC children and community to make healthier eating choices through farm-based education.
Healthy Community: Inspire and encourage the creation of edible gardens in communities throughout NYC and globally.
Healthy Planet: Cultivate a broader awareness of sustainability through sustainable farming practices and responsible waste management.
Battery Urban Farm works with schools all over New York City on a variety of educational programs, all of which are free or ask for a suggested donation. No one is ever turned away because they cannot pay. We provide a wide array of programs for the diverse needs of our community, so teachers, parents, students and neighbors can all find something for them at Battery Urban Farm. Our programs include:
- Farm Educator Led Classes
- Teacher Led Classes
- Enrichment Visits
- City Seedlings Summer Program
- Weekly Open Volunteer Hours for Adults
- BUF Saturdays (Volunteering, Farm Stand and Workshop Series)
- Free Community Events such as EARTH FEST and Harvest Festival
(For more information on our programs, please visit our website)
Though our main focus at Battery Urban Farm is education, one way in which we are different from many other educational farms is that we are a highly productive growing space. Battery Urban Farm focuses on growing for production and education, because we want the public to see how much food can be grown on just an acre of land. We also feel it is important that our students' farm work is modeled on real production-oriented farming practices, in order to teach them the value of hard work, patience, and cooperation.
The thousands of pounds of veggies, herbs and flowers we grow each year have three main destinations:
- School Cafeterias: First and foremost, produce is donated to our school cafeterias through the Garden to School Café Program
- Farm Share: Members of our community join our summer farm share (like a CSA!) and receive a bounty of fresh seasonal vegetables, herbs and flowers when school is not in session.
- Restaurants and Soup Kitchens: These receive all excess produce that our schools or CSA members do not need/want, to ensure that no food ever goes to waste.
WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO
Too many children have little or no idea how the food choices they make every day (including how the food was grown, processed, transported and prepared) affect both their health and that of our environment. Largely as a result of this disconnect, rising obesity rates among our nation’s youth have hit alarming levels. In New York City, many families are without access to fresh fruit or vegetables, as they live in “food deserts” where there are no grocery stores or farmers markets, only delis and bodegas which sell mostly highly processed foods.
In the two years since we opened, Battery Urban Farm Staff have noticed that many of our students do not understand that most of what they eat comes from a plant that was once growing on a farm. Battery Urban Farm works to help students find the connection between farming and eating, so they understand that without farms, there would be no food. We often have students guess that their pizza came from a “pizza factory,” as they do not realize that the cheese, tomatoes and flour they are eating all came from farms. They often remark that mint tastes like gum, and are surprised and delighted that the popcorn we grow on the farm could be microwaved just like the popcorn they eat at home in front of the TV.
Change that Parents and Teachers Can See
Children are notoriously finicky eaters, frequently refusing to even try new foods. And yet come harvest time, all it takes is a few weeks of tending a row of sweet little turnips and one brave, enthusiastic classmate to encourage thirty first-graders to go from “yuck!” to “Can I have seconds?” We’ve witnessed it firsthand. Ask anyone involved in gardening with kids, and they’ll tell you what we see at Battery Urban Farm almost every day: that if kids grow it, they’re more willing to eat it.
“Olivia LOVED the gardening class. She NEVER eats veggies, but she was actually munching on Swiss Chard at the farm!! The day she brought home the tomatoes and cucumbers, she was so excited and called me at work to ask me to buy lettuce, carrots and celery so that she could chop up what she had brought home and make a salad.”
-- Battery Urban Farm Parent
And that's just the beginning. Battery Urban Farm is encouraging students to learn not just on the farm, but beyond. Children in New York City are not only often without access to fresh fruits and vegetables, but they rarely have the opportunity to explore the natural world. Many of our students have recess in their cafeterias, and some of them have never seen worms before. By giving students the opportunity to engage with flowers, plants and insects, we allow them to exercise the natural curiosity that every child enjoys.
“Nadia has been watering the trees in the playgrounds [since joining the City Seedlings summer program] - she fills up her bucket with water from the sprinklers!”
-- Battery Urban Farm Parent
“It was a rewarding experience when [after weeding chickweed during a farm lesson] we were on another field trip at a solar estuary and some of the kids started weeding – my group of students discovered a gardener pulling chickweed and insisted on doing it for him!”
-- First Grade Teacher
Additionally, teachers often share stories of how students that may not excel in a classroom setting shine on the farm. Other teachers report that students are more responsible and respectful with their classmates during and after farm visits.
“The experience of bringing students to the farm has been invaluable. There is something very powerful working in the space- as I have observed students collaborating and sharing in ways in which they haven’t in the classroom.”
-- Therapy on the Farm, Teacher
Giving Kids the Tools
The skills and concepts students learn on the farm are not limited to the farm sphere. Battery Urban Farm is an outdoor classroom that reinforces and enlivens concepts learned in school with farm-based projects, exercises and vocabulary that bloom into a broader, interconnected web of knowledge. Our lessons incorporate Math, Science, Art, History and English, so that the experiential education on the farm is interdisciplinary. In order to ensure that our curriculum is reinforcing concepts from the classroom, we make sure all our lessons correspond to NY State CORE curriculum standards.
For example: Lessons on food miles encourage kids to think about what their breakfast is made of, calculate how far it traveled, and how much energy it took to fuel that trip based on the method of transport. An introduction to the history of The Battery and traditional Dutch and Lenape farming methods encourages students to think about the history of the land and the many cultures who have farmed here before us.
At Battery Urban Farm, Kids are changing what they eat, how they treat plants, and how they treat each other.
Here are some people who agree with us about the importance of bringing our students outside and into the garden:
- California Board of Education: A Healthy Nutrition Environment: Linking Education, Activity, and Food through School Gardens
- National Science Teachers Association: School Gardens Grow Science Achievement Scores
- Harvard Education Letter: Taking the Common Core Outside: School gardens offer lessons beyond science and healthy eating
- School Nutrition Association: School Gardens as a Strategy for Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption
- American Journal of Preventative Medicine: Neighborhood Greenness and 2-Year Changes in Body Mass Index of Children and Youth
The Team: Who We Are
Camilla Hammer, Project Manager
Camilla has always been fascinated by the natural world. When she moved to the urban jungle to earn her B.A. in Environmental Philosophy and Food Ethics at NYU, she realized that her inner country girl could not be ignored. She learned how to grow vegetables by travelling through India and Europe working on a variety of small organic farms, which taught her the importance of developing your own farming method in response to your land and your community. Just prior to joining Battery Urban Farm, Camilla spent a season learning about biodynamics as an apprentice at Live Power Community Farm in Covelo, California. As the Project Manager of Battery Urban Farm, Camilla is grateful to have a job that rarely feels like work.
Lauren Kaplan, Project Coordinator
Lauren grew up on the North Fork of Long Island, where she developed an early and deep-seated appreciation for the value that small-scale farms and access to locally grown food bring to a community. After a six-year career in book publishing, Lauren felt the pull of her rural roots and made the decision to support diversified, sustainable and local agriculture with more than just her fork. She worked or volunteered with Red Jacket Orchards, Garden of Eve, GrowNYC, two East End wineries and a flower shop before joining The Battery Conservancy as Project Coordinator of Battery Urban Farm. Together with her Battery Urban Farm team, she cultivates young farmers, conscientious eaters, garden advocates – and vegetables, of course – from the ground up.
Anna Scott Ellis, Farm Educator
As a high school student, Anna started her love of urban farming at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. There, she learned how to produce a variety of vegetables from small plot of land and teach others the joy of growing their own food - something she hasn't stopped doing since. Before becoming the Farm Educator at The Battery Conservancy, she lived on Martha’s Vineyard managing the education garden at the Farm Institute. Anna graduated from Beloit College with a B.S. in Environmental Biology and a minor in Studio Art. She is delighted to return to her New York City roots and encourage other “city kids” to go ahead and get their hands dirty.
Henry Sweets, Farm Foreman
Henry has a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of the South and has worked for the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, NY, and Greenacres Farm in Cincinnati, OH. Henry spends most of his time out on the farm tending to plants or building and maintaining farm infrastructure. He will be growing several varieties of his favorite vegetable, Okra, because he still can't decide which one he loves most.
Thank you to all the teachers, parents, students, volunteers, and partners who have helped turn the dream of Battery Urban Farm into a reality. We are proud to call you our community.