A Farm Grew in Queens

[sorry for the techical difficulties earlier... this should have been yesterday's post.]

Food gardens and cities are not mutually exclusive. I’ve loved gardens since I was a kid—long hours spent watching Victory Garden (I don’t know who that new guy is. I miss the old guy.) and summer pilgrimages to the world’s largest cabbages were formative experiences. Moving to New York just meant I had to rejigger my expectations a bit, so I did a little research. (Here’s one of the great drawings from that book…)

Urban farming at various scales is all the rage these days, and while there are limitations (polluted soil, limited sun exposure, and sometimes unfavorable microclimates can all be serious challenges), growing even a small corner’s worth of tomatoes is a deeply satisfying project. Do it! (That’s an actual photo of a small fraction of the actual harvest of the tomatoes that Paul and I grew this summer.)

Every summer there is a “Young Architect” project in the courtyard of PS1 in Long Island City, and I’ve always found them deeply disappointing. The budget is always too meager, the realization generally too shoddy, the design often too fashionable. So this year I put off a visit until the very end of the summer, but in August I finally stopped by and saw Public Farm 1, designed by WORK Architecture Company. The materials were basic—cardboard tubes, nuts, and bolts created the basic structure—but clear and clean. The field soared impressively, the herbs and vegetables helped supply the small cafe, and chickens pecked in a pen nearby.

Public Farm is gone now, but there’s still a farm in Queens—the Queens County Farm Museum is in Floral Park.

While Public Farm successfully transformed the barren courtyard into a fertile garden (if only for a summer), I’m not sure it lived up to the full intent. Regardless, though, it’s a step in the right direction… if only they (and every other building with a roof or a yard or a generous windowsill) would plant a permanent vegetable patch.



This entry was posted on Friday, December 19th, 2008 and is filed under architecture, landscape. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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