by Ryan Maye Handy
English? Check. Biology? Check. Farming?
Kingsborough Community College will be the first higher-education institution in New York City to launch an urban farm tilled by students, the school announced on Wednesday.
Kingsborough is launching the “Build a Garden in Brooklyn” project to teach students about urban agriculture and organic farming practices. It will contribute produce to the Culinary Arts Program and the college cafeteria, according to project supervisor Dr. Stuart Schulman.
“The farm will function as an outdoor classroom,” said Schulman, who is also the Executive Director for Economic and Work Force Development at Kingsborough. “Instead of sitting in a classroom and talking about vegetables, students actually grow and harvest them.”
Schulman views the urban farm as a great opportunity to promote careers in what he calls a “green economy,” in a world where urban agriculture is becoming increasingly popular.
With the phenomenon on the rise in Brooklyn, Schulman felt that the school’s campus offers a unique urban opportunity that other city school’s can’t match. Unlike more “vertically oriented” CUNY campuses, Kingsborough sprawls across 70 acres of land, Schulman pointed out, and could expand upon the popular version of rooftop gardens.
The project was the brainchild of food and wine photographer Sara Matthews, also a Kingsborough professor. With her connections to California wine country, Matthews helped forge a partnership between the college and DeLoach Vineyards, a vineyard that practices organic and biodynamic farming. In the spring, DeLoach is delivering a gardener to Kingsborough to discuss landscaping and hold seminars on organic farming, according to the company’s marketing director Patrick Egan.
Although the urban farm is a Kingsborough initiative, DeLoach will also be donating to student scholarship funds, according to Schulman. From November until January 2011, for every DeLoach wine purchased in New York City, the company will donate fifty cents to Kingsborough.
At this point, the urban farm is still in its beginning stages, and Schulman said that there is no specific plan for what kinds of produce will be grown.