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Hell's Kitchen Farm Project is on a mission to create a healthier and more connected neighborhood – one kiddie pool at a time! Five floors above West 40th Street, on the rooftop of Metro Baptist Church, grows an abundant and community-building farm; an unexpected landscape of 52 plastic children's pools, directly supplying a food pantry housed within the same building. That this space can impact both food security and the creation of a greener city, has been an undertaking that resonates deeply with the project's creators, its many volunteers, and those who benefit directly from the endeavor.
HKFP is a collaboration between MCCNY Charities, Metro Baptist Church, Rauschenbush Metro Ministries (RMM) and the Clinton Housing Development Company, with the goal to provide greater access to fresh and safe food and the information to make healthier food choices. Through funding from United Way's Urban Farming Seed Grant in 2011, this shared vision became a reality. On a bright morning in June, more than 60 volunteers assembled on 40th Street to transform a barely used New York City rooftop into something greater. The crew worked together as a bucket brigade to haul seven tons of soil up five flights of stairs in less than five hours. Once on the roof, the soil was transferred to the bright blue plastic children's pools that dotted the roof's surface and planted with kale, lettuce, spinach and an assortment of vegetables.
After only two growing seasons, the farm has become much more than soil and kiddie pools and seeds. It has become a much needed lunch break, an urban oasis, a teachable moment, and an opportunity to connect with friends, neighbors and nature. Whatever form it takes for the many people who enjoy it, the farm remains driven by a mission to be a true source of connection and wellness in Hell's Kitchen. It is fueled through the work of dedicated volunteers throughout the community and partnership with agencies invested in the health of this city.
In fulfillment of this mission, HKFP has also partnered with a local farm to provide subsidized CSA shares for the past two years. Hell's Kitchen Farm Project CSA provides even greater access to fresh, local, and organic produce throughout the growing season, and supports the efforts of small farmers in New York.