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MSCC’s Urban Farming and Fashion High School Meeting Minutes

(MSCC) Andrea Winter, December 10, 2017 — MSCC / Inner City Farmers viewed the fashion High School for a possible roof top farm project

Meeting: Fashion High School

Subject: Roof Farm on 10th floor terrace

In Attendance: Judith Dahill, Karen Batts, Andrea Winter

To start, Karen showed me the 10th Floor roof.

Goals: Specific to the HS—We discussed our “farm” which produced 500 pounds of produce and donated most of it. The farm proposed at the HS will have food to distribute as well as a green space to use. The school can do the same by giving food to a shelter or pantry or come up with plan as to what is best use of the produce (how best to help the community). I explained to Karen and Judith that one of the main purposes or our plan (MSCC and Inner City farmer) is to donate food.  However, we can also grow flowers, which help with pollination (attract bees), can also be donated or sold to help defray costs as well as being pleasant to look at. If the terrace is used by the school as a space for learning and gathering, students can sketch them. They also attract all kinds of insect, butterflies and bees. (Are bees insects?) as well as birds.  Karen suggested growing milkweed, which attracts and help monarch butterflies. We have had quite a few monarchs that enjoy our roof garden especially the zinnias in addition to praying mantis, lovely small birds, bees, etc.  The roof also serves to “green” NYC turning Co2 caused by fumes which abounds in NYC into oxygen as well as having an insulating quality.

Composting is another goal. All the food substances are gold for composting. This turns the problem of waste into an asset. Most of  the balance of the compost will come from the gardens when plants are trimmed and then cut down in late fall. I will send Judith the link for rotating composter. I think the school can start with one or two and get more if needed. We also discussed that natural fabric such as muslin can be composted. FIT donates theirs to Governor Island farm.

Educational goals include: Learning how plants grow. We hope to be able to make a “nursery” for seedling on the premises. Judith and Karen will look into a space where grow lights can be hooked up and shelving put up for trays of seedling. The students can plant the seeds, water and watch them grow. We discussed how this could work.  These seedlings would be used on the 10th floor “farm” and some can go home with students along with a small fabric pot and some soil.

I forgot to mention that we could also try to come up with fabric pots made by the students. Made from recycled materials—sewn by students.

How we can proceed: conditions at the site.

Sun:  It has good southern exposure and a long area along the outside edge against supportive walls.

Structural Support and roof quality: The inner wall may be supportive as well.  This means the roof should be able to support the weight of the pots as they can all be place along the perimeter. Karen is going to get me the measurement of the area. The roof is some kind of terra cotta like tile. We will have to put a liner under the fabric pots so prevent roof damage and leakage.  We will probably want to use kiddy pools, which can also serve to collect water.

Water:  water will be collecting as a supplement.(rain collection). However we will have to get water from the nearby teacher’s bathroom as rain collection is not usually enough for summer months especially for fruit, vegetables and flowers. Best idea we came up with so far is to change the cold water faucet to one that can hook up a long hose which can be rolled up after use. I should be able to find someone who can do this work (won’t cost much). It will have to be approved by the HS.

Costs: 2018-The plan is to request money for this project within the request for other roof farms/gardens to be included in 2018 PB grants. We have a few other roofs that are potential for 2018-2019 including local precinct,  Columbia branch public library and BRC and are looking for more. (note BRC cannot get PB funding but we are looking for other sources to fund that) We (MSCC and Inner City Farmer) should be able to cover the cost for start up for the HS and hopefully receive reimbursement.

Labor: The students will be responsible for labor which is mostly watering and harvesting but also include transplanting, seeding, trimming plants, staking plants, composting, some weeding (although it is minimal), fertilizing, washing produce, distributing produce as well as setting up the pots (carrying and spreading the dirt).

We discussed potential solutions during the summer months when regular classes are not scheduled.  The building is open for summer school. Judith suggested the Good Shepherd association and YABC might have students who are interested in the work, which could be a paid internship. We also discussed using ACE or another source that helps homeless or otherwise struggling community members and may be able to provide interns for the summer. Summer months require a good deal of watering but and some harvesting and distribution of food and flowers. We talked about an important part of Inner City Farmer and MSCC is helping the homeless and disadvantaged with employment and self esteem. Learning to farm and grow ones own food can help in both areas. We hope to train “inner city farmers” of the future.

We also discussed a wide range of issues including recycling projects, Materials for the Arts, other garden projects and the possibility of other local roofs and outdoor spaces that may be potential locations for growing food, expanding career opportunities for students and struggling members of the community as well as general enhancements to our community through “greening”, recycling, growing and educating.

Judith and Karen will schedule a visit to our roof this winter and will return with a group of students when the garden is in full swing late Spring.