Remember the Green Acres sitcom? Honestly, I don't. However,the show's theme song comes to mind frequently when Dave and I weigh the pros and cons of moving out of NYC:
Farm livin' is the life for me.
Land spreadin' out so far and wide.
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.
New York is where I'd rather stay.
I get allergic smelling hay.
I just adore a penthouse view.
Dah-ling I love you but give me Park Avenue
You are my wife.
Good bye, city life.
Green Acres we are there.
If Eva Gabor had seen what I saw this week, she would never have suffered the pains of leaving NYC for Hooterville in the Green Acres show. If she was living in NYC now, she could zip downtown like I did and see green houses, wind mills, tomatoes vines and even pumpkin patches "spreading out far and wide" (ok not that wide) on a barge docked on Manhattan's lower westside.
Urban farms, like the one on The Science Barge, are the brain children of the non-profit organization New York Sun Works and the purpose of building such an urban oddity is to test a theory that urban farms can be bountiful without being a drain on the city's water, power supplies or budget. In other words, could they be self-sustaining, productive, environmentally friendly and low cost, all at the same time?
It appears the answer is "yes!" The Science Barge has been a great success, producing it's own energy with solar panels and mini windmills, recycling waste and water, and producing what appears to be a bumper crop of basil, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and now even pumpkins. They even raise worms and fish (Tilapia) on board, both of which I learned play important roles in keeping the operation going. The worms eat the mulched remains of the staff's food. Some of those worms are then fed to the fish and then the fish waste water (which is nutrient rich) is used to fertilize the plants. The majority of the food is being donated to City Harvest, except for the fabulous looking basil which has been sold at the Union Square Green Market. (Gotta get me some of that!)
The barge will close the end of this month but only because New York Sun Works is moving on to their more preferred location - a rooftop in Queens. Queens is only the tip of the iceberg lettuce in the rooftop farm plan. The company's research identified a bounty of open rooftop space across New York's five burrows, enough to host farms that could potentially feed 20 million people. With food costs and contaminations on the rise, it's exciting to think growing our own, doesn't mean we need to be like Eva Gabor and say "good bye city life!"
COMING SOON: An update on my mascot - SAHARA!
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