A FarmShare Social Network Grows In Brooklyn
For all those that remember the novel, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, the 'Tree of Heaven' grew out of cement through cellar gratings. FarmShare is the 21st Century real-life rendition of that fictional tale. However, instead of just one tree, you have Brooklynites sharing their backyards, their compost and their time to transform privately owned backyards into lush, fruitful farms. Throw in a good dose of social media and a dash of crowd-sourcing and voilà you have instant urban farming.
By signing up to share your yard with a urban farmer, you can eat fresh from your own personal farm during the harvest months, and even sell produce to your neighbors - growing a community built around fresh local food. The best part is, you don't even have to lift a finger, BK Farmyards does all the farming for you.
The program uses Web tools and social networking to connect myriad unused resources that would otherwise be wasted. For example, homeowners can announce that they have a patch of land ripe for farming and receive a portion of the yield in return. Meanwhile, local businesses and community groups can announce that they have 10 pounds of coffee grounds begging for composting. Participants can also sign up to volunteer on any of the micro-farms in their neighborhood.
As the brainchild of Stacey Murphy, the service which is still in its early phases just became a finalist in the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge which seeks to find big-idea solutions for "humanity's most pressing problems." Murphy has five years gardening experience in the midwest where she learned to battle tomato hormworms. As a founder of BK Farmyards, the group's mission is to reduce the city's reliance on fossil fuels, produce home-grown produce, while offering local jobs to boost the economy.
Differing from some other urban farming proposals, BK Farmyards presents an additional element, the dinner party component. These social gatherings provide a space for spontaneous or planned neighborhood groups to share food, recipes, and stories. The dinner parties give power back to the crowd-sourced communities that help build the backyard farms by determining what type of collective food culture they would like to cultivate.
This map pinpoints the locations of the current backyard farms that have been estabished to date.
As this local food movement grows and more people become interested in urban farming, FarmShare will be tracking all the land converted to farmyard and tallying the total amount of acreage over time. Presently this initiative has amassed 3.2 acres of backyard farms. No minor achievement for a grassroots initiative that is just getting underway.
According to the Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation, in 2000, the U.S. decennial census counted Brooklyn’s population at approximately 2.5 million, making it New York City’s most populated borough. Perhaps next year at this time, the backyards of the majority of these citizens will once again become the rich farmland it was in the 1880s, prior to urbanization.
Hats off to Stacey Murphy's vision to grow a FarmShare Social Network in Brooklyn. Like Betty Smith's fictional tree, it's truly a mission that's heaven-sent!
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