How’s this for irony: In Brooklyn, where there once was a processed sugar factory, there now grows organic kale. North Brooklyn Farms, an all-organic garden, just took up residency in the former Domino Sugar Factory space in Williamsburg.
Ryan Watson and Henry Sweets (yup, total coincidence) are the farmers and founders behind the project, and will grow crops like tomatoes, Japanese eggplant, arugula, and even flowers, as well as host Sunday suppers and weekly yoga classes on the new farm for the next three years, while a huge development is built on the lot.
“We want to make up for the lack of green space in the neighborhood,” Watson says of the idea, which they hatched across the street in 2013. “And at the same time, show what can be done with all of the vacant land in the city.”
To make the most of that (currently) vacant land, North Brooklyn Farms uses soil sourced from outside of the city in addition to a physical barrier system to ensure that none of the produce can be contaminated by the old grounds. Sweets and Watson refined their growing knowledge at Battery Urban Farm and Brooklyn Botanical Garden where they formerly worked, respectively.
The farm is serious about their community vibes. You can buy products from North Brooklyn Farms on Wednesdays and Saturdays from an on-site farm stand, or sign up for their CSA program launching in August. And the family-style dinners are designed in conjunction with Emma Jane Gonzalez, a local vegan chef, who met Watson and Sweets after volunteering on the farm.
“We’ve watched little kids learn how to walk in our garden,” Watson says. “We want to generate as much of that community feeling as possible.” —Jamie McKillop
For more information, www.northbrooklynfarms.com
(Photos: Andrew Kluger)