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Brownsville Student Farm Project

About this listing

Formerly abandoned Brownsville lot reclaimed as an educational farm

Place Details

Borough : Brooklyn
Neighborhood : Brownsville
Parks and Gardens, Labor and Work, Education

Place Matters Profile

Brownsville, a neighborhood located in southeastern Brooklyn, is often associated with the former Margaret Sanger Clinic (opened in 1916, it was the first birth control clinic in the United States), the 1962 union strike at Beth El (now Brookdale) Hospital, and the bitter Ocean Hill-Brownsville school strike of 1968. In the first half of the 20th century, Brownsville was renowned as the home of the largest community of working-class Jews in New York; since the second half the 20th century it has gained notoriety for its high density of public housing complexes, and its complex web of social, economic and political challenges. But between the tall towers and formidable statistics is a resilient neighborhood with a long history of social activism and a strong network of community organizations. Among the newest are Nora Painten and the Brownsville Student Farm Project, an 8,000 square-foot educational farm that now anchors the corner...

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Emma Alpert

The Brownsville Student Farm Project is transforming an empty lot on the corner of Rockaway and Sutter Avenues into a gorgeous, bountiful resource for the community. Volunteers and community members have spent the spring and summer building raised planter beds, filling them with dirt, planting in them and harvesting the results. There is already a summer program for local youth on the farm, and when school starts again this fall, the farm will be integrated into the curriculum at P.S./ I.S. 323, with student stewards taking leadership roles in caring for the farm!

This farm represents the growing movement to -- as the farmer Nora Painten, puts it on the website -- "transform every inch of sunny, idle land in the city into food-bearing and community brightening space." The chicken coop is nearly completed, and a hive of bees already calls the farm home (safely, in a box).

This was one of hundreds of empty lots, but it has been reclaimed and is turning in to something fantastic. Unfortunately, the city could always take the land back, though hopefully it wont.

(August 2012)

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