Frequently Asked Questions
What do you grow on Red Hook Farms? What happens to the produce?
We grow a variety of annual vegetables and perennial herbs on our farms – greens, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, leeks, root vegetables, and more. Plus three varieties of kale! The produce is either sold at our farm stands, distributed to families through our farm-share programs, donated to the local food pantry, or taken home by our teen farm apprentices. We also sell to local restaurants and partner organizations.
Vegetables from Red Hook?! Isn’t the soil contaminated?
The soil at the Columbia Street Farm is actually 24 inches of compost in one massive raised bed, built on top of concrete. The compost came from NYC’s Department of Sanitation and has been amended with compost that we produce on site. We test our soil regularly for contaminants – and it’s safe for food production. Similarly, we grow in raised beds at the Wolcott Street Farm, with purchased clean soil mixed with compost.
How did the farms weather Hurricane Sandy?
The Columbia Street Farm was heavily impacted by the superstorm in 2012 – 2 feet of brackish water inundated the farm, rendering the soil no longer arable. To recover, we removed all the original soil and completely replaced it with fresh compost (see above). We also lost our bees, a lot of farm equipment and had to take down our greenhouse. Steadily, we’ve been able to rebuild post-Sandy, with support from the city, volunteers and supporters. The Wolcott Street Farm was just being built when the storm hit, and had to be rebuilt in 2013.
Can I come visit?
Pre-COVID, whenever the Columbia Street farm was open for volunteer or farm stand hours, we welcomed drop-in visitors. See here for directions and more info. Currently the farm is open to the public only on Saturdays for farm stand; we are not allowing visitors to explore the fields for the time being. The Wolcott Street Farm is always open for people to walk through.
Columbia Street Farm: 560 Columbia Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Wolcott Street Farm: 30 Wolcott Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Public Transit Directions: Take the G or the F train to the Smith and 9th Street station and either walk (15-20 minutes) to the farms or catch the B61 or B57 bus. You can also take the R to the 4th Ave/9th Street station, and catch the B61 bus from there. For the Columbia Street Farm, get off the bus at the Ikea stop, the farm is directly across the street. For the Wolcott Street Farm, get off the bus at the corner of Lorraine and Otsego Streets – the farm is one block away, across from the library. From lower Manhattan, you can also catch the Ikea & NYC ferries.
Can my school, camp or group come visit?
We schedule school visits in the fall and spring on weekday mornings, and camp visits on various mornings in the summer. See the school visits page for more info or email email@example.com. For fall 2020, we plan on offering virtual farm visits for schools groups. We also work with groups who want to arrange community service days for their staff – see the volunteer section of our website for additional information.
When can I drop off compost? What do you accept?
Pre-COVID, we allowed residential food scrap drop-off on Saturday mornings from 10am-1pm. Due to the pandemic, as well as city budget cuts, WE ARE NOT ACCEPTING ANY FOOD SCRAPS AT THIS TIME.
Do you sell compost?
We currently do not sell compost, though we use it all to nourish the soil on the farm. Prior to Hurricane Sandy, we did sell or donate compost, and may do so again in the future.
Do you have bees? Chickens?
We have three beehives that are tended by a wonderful volunteer beekeeper, Tim O’Neal of Borough Bees. We mainly keep the bees for their generous pollination services, and leave the honey so the hives can sustain their own populations, especially over the winter. In 2019, our team built a chicken coop and we are now proud hosts to 10 chickens.
How do I sign up to volunteer? Can my child/grandchild volunteer?
We have a number of different volunteer opportunities on weekdays as well as Saturdays; needs include packing produce boxes and making home deliveries for our Fresh Food Box program, as well as farm work. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to sign up – we do not have any drop-in opportunities at this time. All volunteers must be 16 years or older to participate.
Are you hiring? Taking interns?
Check our employment page for updates on internship and job opportunities.
Weren’t you called Added Value before? What happened?
Added Value launched as a non-profit that built the farms and offered programming for the Red Hook community from 2001-2018. All the staff and programs from Added Value were absorbed by Red Hook Initiative in the fall of 2018. Red Hook Farms, a project of Red Hook Initiative, relaunched in late 2018. Our new home will help increase equitable access to fresh produce and provide our youth apprentices with opportunities within RHI’s long-term youth development services.