What the cluck!
Urban farmers are being kicked out of their flagship plantation in Bushwick by a landlord who says he wants to build, leaving them to sow the earth at only one, less-noticeable location.
The all-volunteer Bushwick City Farm is packing up its original home on Broadway between Belvidere Street and Arion Place for the bigger pastures of a lot it already controls around the corner on Stockton Street, but farmers say the move will hurt its ability to attract volunteers and neighbors.
“We are disappointed to lose that spot, especially because it has so much visibility there on Broadway,” volunteer and organizer Jason Reis.
Reis said the farm, which has never paid any rent at either the Broadway lot or the lot around the corner on Stockton Street, was supposed to be out by August, but that the volunteers are taking their time moving the chicken, bees, cats and plants to the other space.
Bushwick City Farm opened on the Broadway lot back in 2008. Since then, volunteers have helped neighbors learn how to grow produce and raise fowl, as well as given away food, throw kids’ parties, and teach English to Spanish-peakers.
Reis said the volunteers are not angry with the owner, who had promised the space to the organization for at least three years and ended up giving them five, for kicking them out.
The farm opened its second location around the corner in late 2012. Having that spot makes losing the Broadway lot a little easier, said Reis, but the volunteers are still sad about it.
“The Broadway lot was especially important because there was so much foot traffic on Broadway, so it gave us a lot of exposure,’’ said volunteer Aneta Bujno. “That dramatic shock that the residents had the first time they saw us felt like accomplishment. We have less of that on the other lot.”
Neighbors said they will miss the excitement of walking by the lot on a daily basis.
“It gave the kids something to look at instead of just another apartment building,” said Evelyn Williams, whose three children all volunteered at both lots. “It teaches them how to go out in the community and do something for the environment.”
Reis said the organization is looking for other lots in the area, and that volunteers are also talking to the city about installing flower boxes on the grounds of the Marcy Houses and Sumner Houses, which are both city-run housing projects.
Jeff Hiller, the owner of the lot on Broadway, could not be reached for comment.