Somewhere, deep into hour two of shoveling, I started to have visions of fierce machinery tilling vast fields.  A part of me understands why big companies took over farming:  It’s hard work.  But in evading the process ourselves, we lose a vital understanding.  Where better to remember than at school?

BK Farmyards is the inspired urban farming initiative by Stacey Murphy and Bee Ayer.  They describe it as “decentralized” — they plan to farm several lots around Brooklyn, including private brownstone backyards.  Right now they are digging their flagship project, a one acre farm at the High School for Public Service in Crown Heights.

On a recent Saturday, a crew of about twenty people, including many members of the Farm Club, continued to crack open the school’s front lawn.  They’re early in the weeks of growing food for the school’s 20-member CSA.  By fall, the farm will be incorporated into the health, science and art classes.

But one day at a time.  At the end of this Saturday, Bee happily summed up the group’s accomplishments: “We have our first crops in the ground – kale, beets, carrots, salad mix and marigolds, sunflowers and zinnias.”

Continued below

Bee Ayer Instructs Students On How To Create New Soil Beds

Acting on Instructions!

Like the nascent plants, many of the students involved are freshmen.  They will be the stewards of this farm for their whole high school experience.  Imagine the learning curve coming up for everyone.  Kassandra Midy, Class of 2014, said it best with a few words and dirty hands, “I was scared of worms last week, but now I’m holding one.”

At one point, Stacey took a minute to take it all in.  “This is months’ worth of talking and planning.  To see the physical evidence of all of the work and all the fund raising is pretty incredible,” she said.  Pointing to the active shovels nearby, she continued,”It’s as simple as that person turning over the soil.  This feels really great.”

Now would you like to be a part of it?  I bet you would.  If you’re in New York and ready to work it out in the dirt, BK Farmyards is the perfect place.  You’ll work hard, enjoy yourself, and sleep like a baby when the day is done.  They have volunteer work days every Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm for the next several weeks.  Click here for the full calendar and details!

The Front Yard Becomes a Front Farm

Learning from Bee Ayer & Her Mad Skillz

Digging in for The High School for Public Service

Pausing a Minute to Pose