The Statue of Liberty and the Battery Urban Farm

Craig McCord

Craig McCord › Craig possesses 23 guitars and cannot play any of them. He likes fresh grilled sardines with a ...

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Last week, with members of my family, we visited the Statue of Liberty.

It was the first time for all of us and even though the excursion could be described as ‘touristy’, we enjoyed it very much.

After experiencing Ellis Island and the many stories that were told with the exhibitions there, we boarded the ferry that was to take us back to Manhattan.

Upon our return, as we disembarked the ferry, it was hard not to imagine what The Battery and its surrounding area was like in bygone days.

As our group walked uptown toward our designated lunch spot, we passed by a cultivated piece of land surrounded by an artfully hand made bamboo fence.

Getting closer, one of the grandkids exclaimed, ‘It’s a vegetable garden’! And she was right.

We had stumbled upon Battery Urban Farm.

So there it was, in a small way, what The Battery might have been like when this place was called New Amsterdam.

When there were vegetable gardens all over the place, growing much needed, vital food.

When pigs, chickens and other animals ran around unfettered in what passed for streets.

When maybe just as many people were walking around the lower tip of Manhattan Island in those days as were promenading on this day.

Wisely, the grandchildren wanted to stop and find out more about this garden project carved out of the urban concrete, asphalt and soaring skyscrapers.

Here are a few facts we found.

The idea for Battery Urban Farm was sparked in November of 2010, when The Battery Conservancy was approached by eight students from Millennium High School.

These Environmental Club students asked if they could grow a vegetable garden in the park. The Battery Conservancy recognized the need for more green space for school children downtown and urban students across the city.

The Battery Urban Farm embraced the idea, and quickly got to work. Five months, four thousand bamboo sticks, and 352 cubic yards of organic soil later, Battery Urban Farm was born.

What a great idea.

And what a great execution of that idea.

On the day of our visit to the Statue of Liberty we thought of all the people who entered America through the golden door of Ellis Island.

We were seeing vestiges of days gone by everywhere we looked.

Seeing that modern-day, urban garden in middle of all the steel, glass, concrete, and the noise of lower Manhattan made us all stop and smile.

Photo credit: Craig McCord