Youth Conservation Corps Restores Battery Urban Farm

Thursday, August 15, 2013

This past week, members of SCA's Youth Conservation Corps had the chance to spend a day on a farm -- in the center of lower Manhattan.

The Battery Urban Farm, founded in 2010 as a project of the Battery Park Conservancy, occupies an acre of prime real estate at the southern tip of Manhattan. The farm hosts public events from composting workshops to yoga sessions, and provides fresh produce to local school cafeterias. With the World Trade Center rising in the background, and the Statue of Liberty just offshore, it's the perfect place to showcase urban greening in action. However, the exposed location also meant that the farm took a huge hit during Hurricane Sandy, with floodwaters rising up to 14 feet. That's where SCA comes in.
 
Local high school students on SCA's YCC crew arrived at the Battery Urban Farm last week, ready to help get the farm into shape for upcoming school programs in the fall. Soil remediation continues to be a major challenge for the farm -- salt and oil contaminants remain in the soil long after floodwaters recede -- so SCA members grabbed wheelbarrows and pitchforks to help spread compost. They also pulled weeds, harvested summer crops, and did other repair work around the farm and the park.
 
The Battery Conservancy staff had high praise for SCA's work. "The SCA members have so much knowledge already, so that's been really helpful," said seasonal gardener Joyce. "We don't have to watch over them the whole time like we do with most of the groups that come in to volunteer. They just get the job done!"
 
The YCC crew has been in the field for six weeks, carrying out hands-on recovery work at parks around New York Harbor. They have cleared debris on Staten Island and Sandy Hook, and helped survey historic buildings for restoration efforts on Governor's Island. "Governor's Island was our favorite site so far," agreed members Connie and Jessie. "We got to take a bike tour and even explore a secret tunnel! We're always learning while we're working."
 
This week's experience at the Battery Urban Farm was no exception. "I didn't even know there was a farm here," said one member. "And I LIVE here! This has really opened my eyes."
 
"I've never done anything like this before," said another crew member, as he pedaled a bicycle cart through the park to deliver tools to other members of the team. "This is the coolest thing EVER!"

 

Carolyn Lucey

AEO Crew Leader
Gateway National Recreation Area
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Jamal Garcia

AEO Crew Member
Gateway National Recreation Area
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James Coyle

Leader Team Member
Gateway National Recreation Area
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Molly Lewen

Sandy Crew One Member
Sandy Hook
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Vicki Rubino

Leader Team Leader
Gateway National Recreation Area
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Victoria Pennacchio

SCA Crew Member
Gateway National Recreation Area
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