Tag Archives: urban farming

The Glorious Red Pepper

Have you ever taken a bite into a red pepper and felt like you’ve gone to heaven? Unlike it’s earlier plucked green cousin, the red pepper packs a delicous punch of sweet and savory. Our Brooklyn rooftop garden has about 5 pepper plans that are all doing well in the after the hot summer. The peppers are all on the small side and I’ve eaten a few delicious green ones. I’m leaving the rest on the plants to mature into reds. I just picked a glorious red pepper off of my Brooklyn rooftop garden. Here she is:

A Brooklyn Rooftop Red Pepper

So – what does it take to grow a red pepper? Although many people eroneously believe that red peppers are a different species or type of pepper than the green pepper, they are actually the exact same plant – the capsicum (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capsicum). Red peppers just stay on the plant longer and turn red as they mature or age. That’s why they are more expensive at the supermarket. They take more work and water to grow.

The pepper or capsicum is indigenous to the Americas and was cultivated first in South and Central America. Columbus noticed peppers being eaten by Native Americans and named it a “pepper” on account of the sharp taste which reminded him of black pepper. Columbus and other explorers brought peppers back to the “Old World.” Colonists then spread peppers throughout  North America. An interesting history of the pepper can be found at the Texas A &M Agricultures Site.

One of the Brooklyn Red Peppers

Interestingly, a red pepper has 10 times the amount of Vitamin A and double the amount of vitamin c as a green pepper. And, both green and red peppers have more vitamin c than a whole orange.

If you want to grow your own peppers, wait until next Spring and then go for it – it’s easy. Here’s an easy guide for pepper growing: http://www.gardenersnet.com/vegetable/pepper.htm

Last but not least, a quick video guide for roasting red peppers. So many good recipes have roasted red peppers. This video shows you 3 easy ways to roast ’em:


The Brooklyn Rooftop Garden

This year’s rooftop garden in Park Slope, Brooklyn is a major success.I can’t write the name of the street or the address because, strictly speaking, we’ve never been on the roof since it’s not allowed and the owners of the building probably don’t want us traipsing around up there.

But traipse we do, and we’ve managed to build quite the garden up there. We have tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, green beans, snap peas, snow peas, Serrano chiles, bell peppers, mint, parsley, rosemary, cilantro, dill and basil. For a look at other Brooklyn gardens, check out http://brooklynroofgarden.com

Just the other night, we ate two salads with all of the ingredients coming from our Brooklyn rooftop garden. The  first is a cucumber salad with dill and the second is cucumbers, tomatoes and basil with olive oil. Delish.

cucumber salad

tomato and cucumber salad

The best part of the garden is watching the plants grow and seeing the vegetables ripen.There’s nothing like eating your own, home grown vegetables. We water our garden by running a hose from the kitchen sink out into the hallway and up the ladder to the roof. I’d love to to a massive, roof -wide garden like the huge garden in Greenpoint brooklyn. Check out this Daily News Article for more on that.

I’d love to hear from others who have good “urban farming” experience.

Urban Farming in NYC and Beyond

Fact – more than 50% of the world’s population now lives in urban environments. It’s estimated that by 2050, the number could be as high as 80%. If we think we’re disconnected from our food supply now, the future looks even more bleak.
This is just one reason that urban farming and urban agriculture projects are so important and interesting.

Urban farming projects range from re-claiming unused public land to school gardens to more innovative vertical farming schemes.

I love the Eagle Street Rooftop garden here in Brooklyn, NY. Ben Flanner and Annie Novak built and tend this rooftop garden. Check out this picture of the farm:

For the full story, check out the article on Serious Eats. Even if you don’t have roof-space like the Eagle street operation, you can grow food in much, much smaller spaces as well.

Another great project in New York City is Added Value, a community farm in Red Hook, Brooklyn. According to their own website:

“Added Value is a non-profit organization promoting the sustainable development of Red Hook by nurturing a new generation of young leaders. We work towards this goal by creating opportunities for the youth of South Brooklyn to expand their knowledge base, develop new skills and positively engage with their community through the operation of a socially responsible urban farming enterprise.”

Added-Value took over a dilapidated, unused city lot and turned it into a functioning 2.75 acre farm. It’s an incredible project and they take volunteers on weekend. Go visit.

For a list of some large-scale NYC gardens check out this article.

A great organization to check out is Growing Power, a great organization founded by former NBA player and MacArthur Fellow Will Allen. Growing Power’s projects in Milwaukee and Chicago are teaching kids and adults alike the value and power of sustainable food production. Watch Allen’s youtube video to see what Growing Power is all about:

Please leave comments about other interesting urban farming/gardening projects.



A Man Staring at Goats

The Men Who Stare at Goats

Well, it’s official – goats are everywhere. The latest Clooney movie is The Men Who Stare at Goats. According to Wikipedia, the film is about:

The book examines connections between paranormal military programs and psychological techniques being used for interrogation in the War on Terror. The book traces the evolution of these covert activities over the past three decades, and sees how they are alive today within U.S. Homeland Security and post-war Iraq. It examines the use of the theme tune toBarney & Friends on Iraqi prisoners-of-war, the smuggling of a hundred de-bleated goats into the Special Forces command center at Fort BraggNorth Carolina, and the connection between the U.S. military and the mass-suicide of members of the Heaven’s Gate cult in San Diego.[1]

Rabbis Goats and Other Characters

Then, I notice a neighborhood artist, Jonathan Blum with a new goat exhibit

If I could have a goat in Brooklyn, I would buy one right now. They are smart, nice and will eat just about anything. Then, I would be able to milk them twice a day and make my own cheese! Bliss. But where to put the goats? They’d be a mess on the streets of Brooklyn.

I got an idea while visting Georgia last summer. About an hour from Atlanta, in Tiger, GA,  I found a rest-stop/restaurant called Goats on the Roof. Below is a video I found of the place:

I think I could do Goats on the Roof in Brooklyn. What do you think?

A Garden Grows In Brooklyn

My Monterey Jack is still aging nicely, but I haven’t had time for cheese-making in the last few weeks. Boo hoo.

I have been feeding my sourdough starter every few days and it continues to flourish. I’m planning on baking this week, but it is so hot out that a hot oven does not sound so appealing.

A Garden Grows in Brooklyn

A Garden Grows in Brooklyn

What is nice in the summer is the rooftop garden on Anya’s roof. Cherry tomatoes, serrano chiles, cucumbers, bell peppers, basil, mint, parsley, cilantro ….. All are growing nicely.

We’re having lots of sunshine and lots of rain too so it’s good garden season.