The Sweetie and I were driving through the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, reluctantly following the bossy directions of the GPS who was taking us through what would commonly be called “a lousy neighborhood.”
The elevated train was rumbling above us, and I was looking around at the ramshackle collections of shops. Suddenly, among second-hand furniture and used TV stores I saw a fence and the sign: BUSHWICK CITY FARM. What? In this unlikely spot?
We parked the car, walked in, and were greeted by an amiable young woman, a teenager, six chickens, and two cats. It turns out that the amiable young woman decided–fortunately for the U.S. in general and Bushwick in particular–to emigrate from Russia. With a slight accent, Masha Radzinsky told us that she lived in Bushwick and every time she passed the garbage heap in this deep, skinny lot, she thought about turning it into a garden. One day she started doing just that. Here’s a mighty example of what one person can do…
With the help of neighborhood volunteers who signed on when they saw her beginning to remove the rubble, Masha first carted off tons of debris. Once the land was cleared, she rescued six chickens about to be slaughtered and two cats about to be put down at the neighboring shelter. The chickens are there to eat the weeds and produce excellent compost. The cats are there for fun. (The cats and chickens get along just fine.)
Masha has already set up a compost bin and, while we were there, a neighbor parked her bike at the entrance to the garden and dropped off some vegetable scraps. Others have contributed soil and plants.
There’s a raised bed at the back waiting for more soil and vegetable seedlings with the idea of giving the produce away for free. But the garden has run out of money. The Sweetie, being his usual generous self, opened his wallet. But more help is needed. If you know of anyone who would like to contribute organic soil or seedlings–or some seed money or sweat equity–contact Masha at firstname.lastname@example.org. (At this point, the farm has no help from the city and no grants or other financial support.)
Below this photo of the garden, you’ll find a U-Tube clip of Masha telling us about the garden and showing us around. You also meet one of the volunteers, Coralis Henriquez, who will tell that she loves hanging around the garden and helping out “because it’s so nice and green around here.”