Finding Hope in Urban Farming – Fellowship student documents farms
For two months and traveling 10,000 miles, Carlsen discovered much about urban farming
Feb. 16, 2012
Carlsen’s original intent was to visit nine farms and to spend time working alongside the farmers. He also wanted to talk to activists, organizers and community members to get a better understanding of best practices and the effect farms have had on local residents and urban development. Carlsen’s journey led him to a deeper truth about his subject. Nothing, especially this project, would be as simple as thrusting a shovel into the ground and sowing some seeds.
While some of his plans remained unrealized, Carlsen came back with notebooks full of additional material, enough for several academic papers and a series of follow-up interviews with other urban farms. Trips to farms in the surrounding boroughs of New York, as well as Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, are now on his agenda.
And then there’s the project he wants to launch soon in Sunset Park’s Industry City. Where other people might see rutted cobblestone streets, old rail ties and walls of abandoned factory buildings under the shadows of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, where nature is in the form of the East River washing over the nearby pylons and vegetation is represented in the weeds and native grasses pushing through any crevice they can find, Eric Carlsen sees tomatoes, corn, collard greens and brussels sprouts — growing communities providing enough food for the surrounding neighborhood.