This woman is running NYC’s first commercial farm in an apartment complex
Some apartment complexes tout such amenities as pools and weight rooms, but a new development in Staten Island, called Urby, prefers to crow about the organic farm located in the courtyard of one of two rental complexes, which opened earlier this year. They also like to brag about their farmer-in-residence, because if you have an urban farm, you need someone to tend to it, right?
ZARO BATES, 26, IS FARMER-IN-RESIDENCE AT THE URBY COMPLEX ON STATEN ISLAND. (FACEBOOK/URBY)
Smack bang in the middle of a new development of 900 apartments on New York’s Staten Island is an astonishing site — a lush, 4,500-square foot organic farm. And nurturing this small urban miracle, set atop an underground parking garage, is farmer-in-residence Zaro Bates.
Bates, 26, is in the midst of her first growing season, that has already produced thousands of pounds of vegetables, featuring 50 types of produce — from mustard greens to cut flowers and Asian broccolini. With help from husband Asher Landes, 29, who runs the apiary, the farm is providing its wares to a weekly farm stand, three restaurants, a CSA-style “veggie pick-up bundle,” and is making donations to a local food bank. Bates also runs gardening workshops for residents and the public.
Bates’ qualifications for the job include studying at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University — where she looked at the societal shift away from agriculture and toward urban centers — as well as apprenticing at the rooftop farms at Brooklyn Grange, and exploring small-scale farms around the world.
On Saturdays, the public can shop at a farm stand in the lobby of the Urby complex, and the communal kitchen is opened up to host cooking demonstrations.