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Sky Farm LIC expansion celebrated by community members and leaders

The ribbon-cutting at the newly expanded Sky Farm LIC held on Tuesday, May 21. Photo by Queens Post

May 22, 2024 By Queens Post News Team

Representatives from Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) gathered on Tuesday, May 21, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the expansion of Sky Farm LIC, a one-acre farm located atop the Standard Motor Building. 

The farm, located at 37-18 Northern Blvd., contains beehives, plants crops, and serves as a haven for migratory birds. It also serves as a learning hub for children and members of the local community. 

The $485,000 expansion project included the installation of a new food production area, walking paths, farming supplies and materials advancing NYPA’s commitment to supporting disadvantaged communities in New York. 

Children from I.S. 10Q plant tomatoes at the newly expanded rooftop farm. Photo by Queens Post

Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by several students from I.S. 10Q on 31st Avenue, who planted tomatoes on the newly-expanded farm. 

Costa Constantinides, CEO of the Variety Boys and Girls Club Queens (VBGCQ), said Sky Farm LIC will help educate students and local community members on sustainability, healthy eating, climate change and climate justice. 

VBGCQ will be hosting school trips to the farm throughout June and the farm will be opened to the wider community at some point in the future, according to Constantinides.

He added that children who visit Sky Farm LIC will leave with goodie bags filled with produce grown on the rooftop farm to promote a healthy diet. 

Kids that we serve very often don’t have access to a healthy supermarket,” Constantinides said on Tuesday. “They don’t have access to healthy food. This is a way of connecting them to where their food comes from to help them grow and help them understand about healthy eating, healthy growing, and good habits.” 

He said children who visit the farm will also receive recipe cards instructing them how to cook the food they have taken home. 

Costa Constantinides speaks at Tuesday’s ribbon cutting. Photo by Queens Post

Constantinides added that the farm also promotes sustainability among local children. “The same sun that is growing the vegetables is powering solar power. The same wind that’s blowing the crops is the wind that’s going to power our wind generation. The same water that runs through hydroelectric dams is the water that helps grow our vegetables.” 

Constantinides said the newly expanded farm could also help address the neighborhood’s lack of green space by serving as a “model” for future developments. 

Last July, VBGCQ acquired the rooftop farm from Brooklyn Grange, which had operated it since 2010. NYPA first announced its intention to design and finance a fully functioning rooftop farm for Variety in September. 

NYPA President and CEO Justin Driscoll said Variety has made a “tremendous impact” in the local community, adding that NYPA was proud to support the organization with the new rooftop farm. 

The newly expanded rooftop farm will also grow innovation, ideas and community connections,” Driscoll said. 

One of the coolest things about this is that the children from the Boys and Girls Club can come over here and learn how to farm, learn how to grow certain types of food. And that will lead to healthier eating over the course of their lives and result in better health outcomes.” 

Children from I.S. 10Q enjoying the newly expanded rooftop farm. Photo by Queens Post

NYPA will offer community workshops and learning sessions at the rooftop farm to help educate students and community members on sustainability and climate justice. The Power Authority will also provide farm materials and supplies to facilitate the program, providing hands-on STEM opportunities for local children to learn about topics such as renewable energy and climate change in addition to urban agriculture. 

Meanwhile, VBGCQ is collaborating with LaGuardia Community College to develop a new curriculum centered on urban farming and sustainable agricultural practices. 

Members of Variety and members of the local community will also have the opportunity to participate in these learning programs.

Kenneth Adams, President of LaGuardia Community College, said the school was proud to partner with NYPA and Variety for the initiative, stating that the rooftop farm is using regenerative agricultural practices to bring fresh produce to New Yorkers. 

Speaking at Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting, Council Member Shekar Krishnan said a concept like Sky Farm LIC would have “once been thought impossible.” 

“I’m proud to be a partner and supporter in this effort,” Krishnan said. “In the battle for creating green space, in the battle for thinking about green space and park space as a public health issue, we’ve got to get creative in neighborhoods like ours, in Long Island City, Astoria, Jackson Heights and Western Queens, because we have to create green space where it didn’t exist before. This is one incredible way to do so.” 

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said in a statement that he was “thrilled” to see Sky Farm LIC open its doors to the local community.

This innovative new rooftop farm will help our Western Queens residents have more access to fresh produce and learn more about how to take care of our ecosystem. Together, we are pushing forward on our mission to create a greener, more sustainable Queens,” Richards said.

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