The one-acre Urban Farm on Randall’s Island grows a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and is composed of 80 raised beds, two greenhouse, four rice paddies and an 11-foot garden made out of plastic milk crates. A play space in the form of a tunnel doubles as a trellis for growing gourds. Two other trellises are used to grow cucumbers, squash and bitter melon. The Farm also includes a berry patch with high bush and low bush blueberries, raspberries that fruit both in the summer and fall, cranberries, sugar cane, one fig tree, one pear tree and numerous grape vines. An adjacent apple orchard contains 40 Newtown Pippins, the original apple tree of New York City, and a dozen Kazakhstan Apple Trees, considered the most ancient apple tree in the world and the first such trees planted in the United States.
The Farm’s hands-on outdoor kitchen and garden programs aim to foster a deeper appreciation and understanding of our natural world, and of how food is produced. The programs demonstrate how choices about food affect health, the environment and communities, and support achievement in meeting academic standards in the life sciences. Students participate in all aspects of planting, watering, weeding, harvesting and composting, using sustainable gardening practices such as rainwater capture and crop rotation. Students also learn about soil fertility, photosynthesis, pollination and botany, as well as nutrition and the history of farming in New York City. They prepare healthy, tasty snacks with produce from the garden, which they share at the end of the visit. RIPA works in partnership with GrowNYC, serving 40 local New York City public school class groups a year — for information on arranging a school trip to The Urban Farm click here.
The Farm offers volunteer opportunities, and corporate volunteers have built picnic tables, raised beds and trellises, and have added landscape fabric and mulch to the garden areas. Volunteers have also worked alongside children in the garden in a program which pairs each adult with a student, who then work together throughout the garden. At the end of the day, volunteers and students share a meal they prepared together. If you would like to volunteer to work in one of the gardens, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For directions to the Urban Farm, click here.