All-volunteer Bushwick City Farm brings the neighborhood together by growing organic food and raising chickens

From foul to fowl

The Brooklyn Paper
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There will soon be more chickens clucking ironically in Bushwick.

The Bushwick City Farm, a grassroots, all-volunteer farm started on a vacant Broadway lot four years ago, is now fixing up a much larger lot around the corner on Stockton Street at Lexis Avenue.

Volunteer Spike Appel, 27, said that moving into the Stockton Street lot across from Sumner Houses was a natural extension of the work they’ve been doing on Broadway.

“It was a dirty place and there was a lot of trash and rats,” Appel said of the previous condition of the Stockton Street lot. “With more space, we could produce more food and reach out to more of the kids from the projects across the street.”

Last fall farm volunteers built 15 raised beds for the Stockton Street farm — many of which are growing winter crops kept warm under sheets of plastic. Now, the volunteers are completing a chicken coop, so that there can be egg-producing birds on both lots. In the spring, they plan to build another 20 raised beds. Volunteers are invited to help out from 12:30 pm to sundown Saturdays and Sundays.

The Bushwick City Farm does not have leases for either of the lots. Instead, they have permission from the property owners, who can’t build on the spaces and are happy to have someone maintain them.

The soil on both lots is probably contaminated, so the volunteers only plant on raised beds filled with organic soil brought in from Long Island.

The farm’s programs range from growing organic food and raising birds with the help of neighborhood kids, to handing out freshly grown food to the neighbors. The farm also collects and distributes donated clothing and offers free English lessons to adults.

“It’s a great way to teach kids skills they would never normally learn in the city,” said Jason Reis, who has been serving as volunteer farm manager. “It’s pretty unique. I can’t think of anywhere else in New York City where everything they produce is totally free.”

The chicken coops don’t only house chickens. They also have the random pheasant, turkey, duck and whatever other kind of rescue birds the neighbors bring over.

When the weather gets warmer, kids from a woodworking class at Lyons Community School will build a gazebo on the Stockton Street lot, which is nearly four times the size of the Broadway lot. But kids from the neighborhoods are helping to build the coop.

On a weekend afternoon last week, four kids from the Sumner Houses gathered at the farm, begging to work on the coop even though temperatures were well-below freezing.

“It’s big and it’s clean and it’s fun. You can go play around,” said 13-year-old P.J. Suarez. “Sometimes I work, but there’s also a lot of sitting and talking.”

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at
Updated 5:39 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

diehipster from Brooklyn's better half says:
A bit off topic but I have a great idea for a story: Bearded transplants who give chicken raising in a giant city a try.
Feb. 1, 2013, 7:07 am
ty from pps says:
Diehipster -- You do know that raising animals like chickens and pigs for food is not new to Brooklyn, right? Just because it 'fell out of fashion' over the last few decades doesn't mean it's not a "Brooklyn" as an ill-tempered halfwit like you. It used to be very common for families to have a chicken coop or a "pet" pig in their brownstone gardens. I know several folks who grew up in Park Slope and Crown Heights in the 60s with just that...
Feb. 1, 2013, 11:54 am
diehipster from smashing Ty's thick frames says:
Wow you still don't get it? A lot of hipster hate stems from these interlopers being glorified for simple things. Like playing with chickens, making chocolate, eating tacos, etc.
Feb. 1, 2013, 3:10 pm
diehipster from smashing Ty's thick frames says:
The people you speak of JUST DID IT. End of story. It wasn't news or incredible. You stupid yup.
Feb. 1, 2013, 3:12 pm
pack ur bags from here says:
Diehipster and his mook buddies can't stand the fact that people who may have recently moved to NYC have the nerve to improve their adopted neighborhoods by cleaning up vacant lots instead of using them as outdoor garbage cans. He doesn't understand why no one wants to write articles about him sitting around in his Yankees sweats in his inherited rent controlled apartment (which affords him the luxury of not having to work much for a living, unlike all those 'yups'). While the 'transplants' he despises bring the skills and energy to start new businesses, Diehipster has nothing to offer the city except hatred and spit on the sidewalk.
Feb. 2, 2013, 11:08 am
ols time brooklyn from slope says:
hipster madonna and chicken
Feb. 2, 2013, 2:25 pm
SwampYankee from pack ur bags Mast Brothers Taint says:
Ewwwwwww! cleaned up lots!!!! scared of you! Who the —— do you think cleaned up those lots crack whores & junkies and made those neighborhoods safe for you to move in? You have no idea what those neighborhoods were like before real New Yorkers cleaned that —— up. You moved after the murder rate and arson rate was driven to all time lows. You fixed NOTHING!!!! Where were you when the bullets were flying and FDNY never had time to go back to the firehouse? YOU WERE DRINKING SUNNY-D AND EATING RICE CRISPY TREATS IN OHIO!!!! You daddy could just afford to subsidize your rent. you made nothing, you built nothing, you moved into a vaccuumm. you are not from here, you just live here, you will never, ever be from Brooklyn, you will always just be......Brooklyn based. —— stains
Feb. 2, 2013, 7:25 pm
Albert from Ditmas park says:
At Ty from pps

Yeah, my grandmother came to the US from Puerto Rico in the mid forties, bought a brick row house in Sunset Park, grew herbs and raised some chickens in our backyard for our consumption as well neighbors.

We cleaned weed choked lots and made our area a great little place. Transplants are doing nothing new.
Feb. 3, 2013, 4:30 pm
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
your abuela raised chickens and she didn't have a blog with an FAQ, an "about us" section, another section with a calendar showing events or a section where the press could contact her? No offense but why would she raise chickens if it wasn't so she could say "LOOK AT MEEEEEEEEEEE, OF PLEASE EVERYONE LOOK AT ME!!!" like the beardo above?
Feb. 4, 2013, 8:12 am
Beardo from Bed Stuy says:
Hi Everyone, Before you make all these assumptions and judgements, come to the farm and see it for yourself. Ask, the "real New Yorkers" that live on the block how they feel about Bushwick City Farm. Come turn the compost, clean a chicken coop and take some free eggs, carrot or lettuce to your family. You would be surprised how much the "real New Yorkers", whatever that means, really appreciate having this space in the community. These lots were previously being used as for dumping trash. I think growing free food and having community gardens is a much better alternative to building condos or keeping the lots full of trash and toxic materials. So for all the haters, I challenge you to come see it for yourself or make some positive change in your community. Mentor a young person, clean up a lot on your block, plant a tree, do something besides talking trash.
Feb. 4, 2013, 11:29 am
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
you still don't get it. If you wand to raise chickens, fine, raise chickens. But please stop acting like you deserve some kind of credit it for it. You have to blog about it, take pictures of it, have a "contact us" section, a Press information section and an about us section. you know what all of this says? I don't want to raise chickens I want people to LOOK AT MEEEEEEEE!! i'M RAISING CHICKENS IN THE BIG CITY! Why not do it for whatever sense of peace or accomplishment it gives to you instead of shouting it out from the highest mountain top? This is nothing new, you didn't invent chicken raising, people have been doing it for the whole history of the city, not just the few years that you have been here on staycation. I've been cleaning up my block, mentoring my kids, doing charity work, growing my garden, planting trees forever and I am not blowing a trumpet about it. How about a bit of quite humble instead of seeking attention for the most simple and mundane things?
Feb. 4, 2013, 3:21 pm
Albert from Ditmas Park says:

Yeah, "Loook at meeeee", wasn't the point with my abuela and I wish it wasn't the point for the hipster set either.
Feb. 5, 2013, 9:49 pm
Albert from Ditmas Park says:
Or maybe that is one of the many points for hipsters, f**k if I know. I pay no mind.
Feb. 5, 2013, 9:49 pm
"Interloper" from Kent Ave says:
SwampYankee and dieHipster - What's your problem? Its a bunch of people that wanted to start a grassroots, all-volunteer farm in Bushwick. They're not grandstanding about it...they're just operating it. The paper is the one that is reporting about it.

Also, SwampYankee - I'd be willing to bet that you've never done anything of the sort regarding "cleaning up my block, mentoring my kids, doing charity work, growing my garden, planting trees". You're obviously too miserable of a person to think about anybody but yourself and how you can one day rid Brooklyn of the hipster hoards defiling it. You're a complete joke.
Feb. 6, 2013, 12:59 pm
Spike from L.E.S. & now Brooklyn says:
I was born and raised in the lower east side surrounded by the 300 community gardens in the neighborhood. I think the community gardens movement helps to maintain strong and resilient communities. Bushwick City Farm works to keep positive open space where neighbors can cooperate and help eachother, to produce and share free food.
Feb. 9, 2013, 10:19 pm

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