Nov. 9, 2013 By Christian Murray,
A group of guerrilla farmers who illegally started a garden on an abandoned Long Island City lot will soon get the recognition they have long sought.
The group put down a garden on an industrial site, located on the corner of Skillman Avenue and Pearson Place, nearly 3 years ago. They call their plot the Smiling Hogshead Ranch.
“It’s over an acre in size with largely unused railroad tracks crisscrossing through it,” Gil Lopez, a co-founder, said. Lopez said that the group rode their bikes around the area at the time—and used computers—to find the site.
The land, however, belonged to the MTA—despite the fact that there weren’t any signs saying ‘No Trespassing’ or ‘Keep Out.’
However, Lopez’ group has been lucky. It’s working with the MTA to structure a deal where it will be able to use the land in return for a small fee.
With recognition looming, the group is starting to put forward some lofty plans. It seeks non-profit status to raise funds; offer job-training programs for prospective gardeners; and work with schools to introduce children to horticulture.
Lopez said the group has had the soil tested at the industrial lot and that its members eat the produce—which include tomatoes, eggplant and fruit. He said that they have used mushrooms to clean the soil through a process call mycoremediation
The group has a large compost pile and is urging the public to drop off leaves, fruits, eggshells and other table scraps between noon and 4pm on Sundays.