Recently, we partnered with Edgemere Farm in Rockaway to compost of all our excess coffee grounds.
To get to know them a little better we spoke with Mike Repasch-Nieves, a manager at the farm.
When was Edgemere Farm founded?
Edgemere Farm was founded in the wake of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy with a mission to grow and provide fresh food to a part of the city that was (and sadly, still is) designated as a “food desert.” What started as an abandoned, city-owned lot has been transformed into a lush, productive site where we grow tons of fruit and vegetables using sustainable organic practices.
What’s it like running an urban farm in NYC?
It’s awesome! The farm is truly an oasis. Especially amidst the pandemic, we’ve been so grateful to have both this beautiful outdoor space as a sanctuary, and the ability to directly feed our community.
As a city kid growing up in NYC and Puerto Rico, I didn’t come at this with a background in agriculture, and was pretty removed from the idea of “farming,” so it’s been a huge learning experience every step of the way. One of the things that’s so inspiring is just how much food you can grow in such a relatively small space — you don’t need acres of open fields to feed a neighborhood. All that said, it’s a LOT of work! Fortunately, we have amazing, passionate volunteers who work hard and help make it all possible.
What are some of the community and restaurant initiatives that Edgemere works on?
We partner with several local restaurants, and among other things, recently we’ve been working with Rockaway Mutual Aid to provide fresh food to those in need, we’re also partnering with The Cradle NYC, who are opening a West-African food stand / juice bar in Rockaway, and are growing fruit and vegetables here on our farm… And we’re now working with Dripkit to compost their waste coffee grounds!
Can you tell us more about the composting work you do at the farm and the farm’s full circle sustainability mission?
One of the initiatives that’s central to what we do is our closed-loop food waste program. We partner with local restaurants Cuisine by Claudette, where their employees are trained to separate organic food waste (i.e. fruit peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc.) from the rest of their trash.
We collect all of their organic waste, and along with spent brewing grains and hops from local brewery Bright Eye Beer Co., we feed our chickens an exceptional, balanced diet. From that, we get eggs that are off the charts in terms of nutritional value and taste, and the chickens’ waste provides us with incredibly rich fertilizer. What we’re doing is the only fully-functional closed-loop food system in the city, as far as we know.
What are the names of the chickens! :)
We refer to them collectively as “our gals” or “the ladies,” haha. They are wonderful, curious creatures!
What are some ways readers can help support your farm?
Get involved! We welcome everyone to come to visit and volunteer. We have an open-gate policy where anybody can come to work for a few hours and take home some produce. We want to empower folx to get more connected with their food, and learn how to grow it.
Our open volunteer hours are Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11-5. Anyone is welcome to come during those hours and get their hands dirty. We also have a farmstand here on Fridays from 12-5 and Saturdays from 10-3 where we sell everything that we have growing. Volunteering, buying our produce, following us on Instagram (@edgemerefarm), spreading the word — those things are all huge!