All Articles
All Articles

EcoStation:NY's Farm-In-The-Sky, Bushwick

A rooftop garden led by kids aims to raise awareness of food justice for the community, while growing delectable fresh greens

by Nara Shin
on 30 June 2014

Between the blocks of stunning graffiti in Bushwick lies a newly renovated building that will soon become a community center named Mayday. Located steps from the Jefferson stop on the subway's L line, the space at 214 Starr Street will host a bar, fair-trade cafe and events area (with profits supporting free public programming and social justice initiatives), and will also operate as a co-working office space once it opens this fall. One of its first programs will be adult education classes led by Make the Road New York.

But atop of the community center building is perhaps where the biggest work is left to be done. Enter EcoStation:NY, a young grassroots non-profit devoted to supporting food security, environmental justice and community health—a big part of their work is making sure that people have access to affordable, locally-grown produce as well as the opportunities and skills to do it themselves. The altruistic organization is planning to transform Mayday's combined 10,000-square-foot rooftop and terrace into urban gardens, calling it Farm-In-The-Sky.


While Farm-In-The-Sky had a temporary trial run on another rooftop a few years ago, the combination of Hurricane Irene and the roof's old age led to its closure, until EcoStation could find a new viable space. They're now launching a Kickstarter to raise $30,000 to make Farm-In-The-Sky a reality and do work that goes well beyond merely growing fresh herbs and vegetables. It will be a space for youth to practice teamwork, leadership and responsibility—as well as becoming versed in the issues of social justice, equity and food—and remain involved in every step of the process, from planning to planting. The bulk of the Kickstarter is funding paid stipends for 14 kids as part of a summer internship program. While there will be adult supervision in the form of three co-managers, it's really the students who will be tending the greens and hosting workshops and cooking demos while becoming instigators of change in the community.


Sari Gonzales, one of the co-managers and a soon-to-be Farm School alum, told us of one example of how the project will be led by students. "We did two design sessions so far: one for the roof and one for the terrace. It's really all student-driven—we sat down with them and said, 'What do you want to grow? What containers are you going to grow them in? What challenges do you think you would have?' They came up with a design, and then we hauled four tons of soil to the terrace."

bushwick-campus-farms-1.jpg bushwick-campus-farms-2.jpg

Farm-In-The-Sky is embracing sustainable, DIY techniques, such as using recycled containers and building movable raised beds themselves, but is also raising money to purchase solar panels, an educational water catchment system and more. "The first year, it's all going to be donated to the Ridgewood-Bushwick Senior Center," says Gonzales. While the rooftop farm isn't large enough to provide meals every day for the more than 2,000 elderly residents, the EcoStation team asked for requests; since there is a big Latino community, many wanted to see hot peppers and herbs such as cilantro, which Farm-In-The-Sky will focus on. "The second year is going to be a combination of donations and giving volunteers and students access to the food, and also provide some of the food to our local markets, because we have five local markets out in Bushwick," she continues. Farm-In-The-Sky will be able to feed more people as it will be able to produce 6,000 pounds of food annually, doubling EcoStation's annual yield to 12,000 pounds (as they also have Bushwick Campus Farms up and running).

We live in a concrete jungle, so being able to eat what you're growing—it connects so many different ideas and concepts.

"A lot of people don't know that they have different options," says Gonzales. "That there is a farmer's market in Bushwick where they can get affordable produce that's organic and local. Many people think they just have to [get their food from] the bodega." She finishes, "We live in a concrete jungle, so being able to eat what you're growing—it connects so many different ideas and concepts."

Transform Farm-In-The-Sky from a few sketches into a reality by donating to their Kickstarter—and scoring a bag of local greens or even a dinner at Momo Sushi Shack in Bushwick.

Lead photo by Nara Shin, all other images courtesy of EcoStation:NY

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology
Loading More...