Green City Force X Farm School Partnership

Artboard 1 Announcements Featured
icon-clock November 18, 2021

Photo Credits: Chloe Lazarus, Green City Force’s Operations Manager

My name is Chloe Lazarus and I am the Farm Operations Manager at GCF. I’ve been farming for 14 years on small-scale, intensive, organic farms in the city, upstate New York, and in Pennsylvania. During my time at GCF so far, I have been focusing on transforming our eco-hub sites into production-focused spaces that utilize similar techniques and technologies that you may see on small-scale farms outside of New York City.

I am currently teaching a course with Farm School NYC – this partnership actually happened before I even joined GCF and it was so wonderful that we were able to partner and get our folks involved in the project too. Farm School NYC trains local residents in urban agriculture in order to build self-reliant communities and inspire positive local action around food access and social, economic, and racial justice issues. Farm School saved 5 seats in the High Tunnel course for GCF affiliates and I had interested individuals fill out a form explaining their interest. I believe 8 or 9 people officially filled out the form and from there I chose 5 people: 1 Service Coordinator, 2 Eco-Hub Fellows, and 2 Corps members. We have been meeting Monday evenings virtually but part of the course included actually constructing a tunnel and we were able to do so at Forest Houses!

Photo Credits: Claudia Navas, Farm School NYC’s Project Manager

The tunnel was purchased by GCF, though Farm School also purchased tools and supplies to assist in the actual build. The tunnel is from Farmers Friend LLC – it is a 14’x80′ gothic pro tunnel with lift kit. A high tunnel is an excellent structure to add to our eco-hub sites because it offers a protected growing space that we can use in a variety of ways including: season extension (growing earlier and later into the season because heat will stay trapped inside the tunnel), seed starting (using the space like a greenhouse throughout the year), curing and seed saving (holding crops like squash and garlic or seeds at optimal temperatures for ideal preservation), experimental growing (growing crops ordinarily challenging to grow in this region), and more!

Photo Credits: Jazz Kerr, Farm School NYC’s Communications Storyteller

Other classes in the course focused on high tunnel permitting, funding, maintenance, variability, and durability. The goal is for students of the course to have the skills and experience necessary to construct their own tunnels or other structures at their own sites across the city. For GCF, this has been a huge opportunity to teach a lot of construction and maintenance skills, some design skills, and the tunnel will also allow for less of a reliance on purchased plants and a greater opportunity to start our own seeds throughout the year and grow during the winter months. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the tunnel doesn’t get too wildly vandalized, but we will do our best to include the community in its use and progress so that everyone feels more attached and involved in this project!

This collaboration with Farm School also fits into a larger conversation Erin and I have had about tunnels and greenhouse structures at all sites. We are hoping to be able to build another high tunnel at Bayview (and hopefully Mariner’s Harbor eventually, too!) so that we can have a more closed-loop system and offer more skills and training for our members.

In Service,

Chloe Lazarus