Staten Island, once known for it's farmland, is returning to it's "roots" with a new agriculture development in Bloomfield on the West Shore.
A vertical farm was planted back in October on the underutilized lands of the West Shore Green Zone on Bloomfield Avenue. The project came to life through a joint effort by the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation (SIEDC) and Living Restoration, a start-up focused on integrating nature into already developed areas. With the help of Nanoponics, a Bloomfield-based company, a special soil blend was developed, containing slow-release nutrients which makes it last longer. A system of delivering water to the plants also needed to be devised, considering there was no usable water at the site.
The short 7-week trial season harvested a thousand pounds of kale, lettuce, Swiss chard, and other leafy greens from 200 vertical planting towers. Laura Adrian Wilton, project director of Living Restoration, stated that leafy greens were used because they are usually the first to spoil in transit. The harvest was donated to the Community Health Action food pantry.
The benefits of locally-grown produce include reduction in environmental toxins and operating costs. Gas will be saved since the goods will be arriving from across the island, as opposed to across the country. Also, the project will likely create more jobs. The next planting season will begin in March. Hopes are high for expansion of the project, and for an even larger harvest to be brought in.
[Photos courtesy of Living Restoration]