About Feedback Farms


Feedback farms formed in 2011 around the idea of making temporary farms on vacant Brooklyn lots. While rooftop farming is becoming increasingly popular in NYC, farming on vacant lots has distinct advantages including potentially lower costs, less wind, flexible growth mediums, and ease of access.

Right now in NYC, there are an abundance of stalled construction projects - the economic crisis of 2008 left many developers unable to get financing to break ground or unable to complete construction projects in the five boroughs.While construction is pending or stalled, lots often become impromptu trash dumps and rat warrens. This is where Feedback Farms comes in. We take over lots at the behest of private landowners and public agencies, maintain the lots, keep them clean, shovel the sidewalk and we use them to grow vegetables.

  • We are turning the three vacant lots at 346 Bergen into a temporary research farm, a community space and our partners at Textile Arts Center are working on a natural dye CSA.

In 2012, on at least two geographically distinct lots in Brooklyn we will conduct field trials of several growing mediums and sub irrigated planters designed for mobility and with integrated remote monitoring capability. Our produce will be available at select farmers markets and restaurants.

The Story:

We found the first lot on Bergen Street in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn via 596 acres, the Brooklyn public land mapping project (596acres.org). Collaboratively Gregory, Kallie, Clare and Tom developed the idea of feedback farms into something simple and powerful: Our mission through engineering and research to establish multiple temporary farms in the urban context. Together we bring our diverse backgrounds in agriculture, research, art, community organizing, education and engineering to the project.

A Big Thanks! to our friends at: 596acres, NYC HPD, The NYC Dept. of Sanitation, Green Thumb, IOBY, and the Brooklyn Borough President's Office.

We can't wait for spring. We are farming at 346 Bergen St. between 3rd and 4th avenues in Brooklyn - with the blessing of Greenthumb.

Tom, Clare, Kallie and Gregory

Our Mission

Feedback Farms seeks to grow and maintain a profitable network of small scale farming operations by developing systems and appropriate technology to overcome challenges of land tenancy, scale and labor in the city. Feedback Farms promotes environmental and economic sustainability within the organization as well as in the broader community via community engagement and education.

We Are:


  • Clare Sullivan
  • Clare Sullivan is currently the Environmental Coordinator of the Millennium Village project in the Tropical Agriculture and rural Environment Program of Columbia University. Before that she worked in a variety of capacities in the food service industry - running a collective bakery in St. Louis, working as a pastry chef in New York and doing agricultural research at the International Potato Center in Lima, Peru. Clare is also a serial crew leader for the Student Conservation Association and has served on it's advisory board. She has M.A. in International Affairs with a focus on Environmental Policy from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and a B.A. in Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis.

  • Kallie Weinkle
  • Having graduated from the the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Furniture Design, Kallie moved to NYC in 2008 where she has committed herself to supporting the local food and agricultural community by focusing on expanding local food production, education and availability.

    Kallie has a unique farming background having gained her vegetable production experience as a farm hand at Eagle Street Rooftop Farm. She also has extensive experience in curriculum development and as an instructor for farming and environmental education at both Eagle Street and the New York Botanic Gardens in the Bronx. In 2011 Kallie founded the Eldert st CSA, in Bushwick, Brooklyn, which she continues to oversee.

    In her free time, Kallie holds a full time position as Market Coordinator for Hot Bread Kitchen, a social enterprise bakery located in Harlem where she works closely with Greenmarket, managing all of Hot Bread Kitchen's market operations.

  • Tom Hallaran
  • Tom got his first taste of farming in the 1990's when he attended high school in Vermont with a working organic farm. In the following years he spent several seasons working on farms in Maine and Connecticut and he's been trying to find his way back to the land ever since. Along the way he worked in bioinformatics at the Washington University Genome sequencing Center, at a collective bakery, a biofuels production plant, and in online advertising. Since 2009 Tom's day job has been running IB5k.com a new media production and software engineering company based in Manhattan.

    Tom Lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter Maeve, a few blocks from feedback farms' Bergen St. lots.

  • Gregory Sogorka
  • Has a wide background and experience set that ranges from programming, classical/jazz composition, and mathematics. He and Tom discussed the idea for Feedback farms in a parked car in Bushwick during the summer of 2011; in that a moment a string of events led to the birth of an idea and a group of people committed to realizing a project. With his knowledge of software and wireless hardware he is applying new exciting ways to transform the urban agriculture landscape. The integration of skillsets with the other members of Feedback farms is ideal to his sense of intellectual cross-pollination and cooperation.

Where: Brooklyn! @ 348 Bergen St.


View Feedback Farms Bergen St. lots in a larger map

Lots at 348 Bergen St. Boerum Hill Brooklyn.
3 Blocks from Atlantic Terminal 2,3,4,5,B,Q,D,N,R,LIRR
3 Blocks from the 2,3 at Bergen.

Research Agenda

  • Arduino Uno
  • In 2012 we will conduct field experiments on at least two geographically distinct lots in Brooklyn. We will conduct trials of several growing mediums and sub irrigated planters designed for mobility and with integrated remote monitoring capability.

    Planters will be equipped with tensiometers, temperature, photo sensors and RFID chips to enable tracking of ambient light, moisture and temperature as well as location, planting date, variety, watering schedule, harvest time, and yield. We hope to learn which sub irrigated planters and growing medium are optimum for urban farming. In 2013 we will expand using this data to inform our decisions.

 

Technology Development

The concept of appropriate technology guides our technology development program but our research agenda mandates that we develop technology that is far more intensive than would be required for agriculture on its own.

Our technical development breaks down into two distinct areas:

  • Sub Irrigated Planter Design
    • We use sub irrigated planters because they enable us to move a given farm operation mid season
    • it is unsafe to grow food for consumption in the ground in the urban NYC context
    • We seek to develop movable, inexpensive, and effective sub irrigated planter systems
  • Remote Monitoring, Automation, and Control Systems
    • Systems may serve two purposes
      • data collection for research
        • photo sensor
        • temperature sensor
        • tensiometer
        • RFID
        • data collection for farm management and operations
          • tensiometer
          • RFID
      • Our remote monitoring platform is in development and so far makes use of the following components
        • Zigbee protocol radios
        • 3g cellular data network
        • RFID

    Sub Irrigated Planters

    Mobile farming operations in NYC require modular, lightweight, low cost, planter design.

    • Preliminary bed design
    • Bergen lot sub irrigated planters to scale
    • Bed design - detail view
    • Sub irrigated planter detail
    • Collapsable design
    • Wood design, optimized for a palette

    contribute

    calendar

    images

    Contact

    info@feedbackfarms.com

    Feedback Farms
    306 Dean St
    Apt 2b
    Brooklyn, NY
    11217
    (203) 560-4506

    volunteer

    Wish List


    We could use the following, got one(or 2)?

    Allies

    These folks are good friends

    • The Boerum Hill Neighborhood Association . A volunteer organization of residents who seek to preserve and enhance the unique qualities of our neighborhood through advocacy, education and community building.
    • Runner and Stone will be serving Feedback Farms produce come Harvest. Right now you can get some exquisitely bespoke bread at Brooklyn Flea; restaurant coming soon to Gowanus .
    • Bob Hyland and Inside Urban Green The authority on Sub Irrigated Planters - and inspiration for our flex drain based reservoir SIP design
    • Brooklyn Grange the one and only NYC rooftop farming empire.
    • McEnroe Organics is supporting feedback farms with donations of soil for our research project.
    • Textile Arts Center - The main goal of the Textile Arts Center is to provide support to fiber artists, and everyday people interested in working with fiber, by acting as a resource facility and creative meeting place
    • Eagle Street Farm - First Rooftop Farm in the US - based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
    • IOBY - Funding for environmental projects in our backyards
    • Hudson Valley Seed Library - A small, farm-based seed company growing and saving vegetable, herb, and flower seed in the Hudson Valley of New York State.
    • Saint Lydia's A dinner Church in Gowanus, Brooklyn
    • 596 Acres - Public vacant lots in Brooklyn. Find the lot in your life. Contact the owner. Grow something. We can help.
    • A Small Green Patch - The Facebook group for our community garden in Park Slope
    • Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory - Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory seeks fundamental knowledge about the origin, evolution and future of the natural world.

    Some pictures of the Bergen lots, more to come...

    Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

    Resources

    Sites and organizations with utility

    • Farming Up - FarmingUp is an NYC based, urban agriculture project created in 2010 to study and improve rooftop agriculture and create a large-scale, financially self-sufficient rooftop farm.
    • HPD -HPD is the largest municipal developer of affordable housing in the nation.
    • Brooklyn Borough Presidents Office
    • Greenthumb - The largest community gardening program in the nation
    • NOFA NY - The organization of farmers, gardeners and consumers working to promote organic in NY state.
    • OAsis - Richest source of community maps of NYC all in one place
    • comfood listserv - Out of Tufts - COMFOOD is an email list created to link individuals and organizations involved with or interested in community food security (CFS).
    • Build It Green -Build It Green! NYC, is New York City's only non-profit retail outlet for salvaged and surplus building materials.
    • Brooklyn Food Coalition - The Brooklyn Food Coalition is a grassroots organization dedicated to the vision of a just and sustainable food system in Brooklyn through community organizing, public education, and research and advocacy.
    • Gowanus Conservancy - The Gowanus Canal Conservancy is a nonprofit organization working to clean up and develop Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal into a park with full public access.
    • Brooklyn Foodshed Great space for food events on Atlantic - project of the Brooklyn food Coalition.
    • Cornell Extension - Soil testing, support of small farmers from Cornell Ag.
    • Johnnies Seed - Great seed company, based in Maine
    • Kitizawa The oldest seed company in America specializing in Asian vegetable seeds. Since 1917 we have been the source for oriental vegetable seeds for home gardeners, retailers, and commercial growers.
    • Greenhorns Blog This blog is part of Greenhorns, a land-based non profit serving young farmers across America. Here, you'll find links about land, events, jobs, news, gossip and video ephemera relevant to the young farming community.

    Check our

    Location


    View 348 Bergen lots in a larger map

    Contact

    info@feedbackfarms.com

    Feedback Farms
    306 Dean St
    Apt 2b
    Brooklyn, NY
    11217
    (203) 560-4506