About us

Who are we and our mission

Our community Farm was created in 2021, and has been active since then, we produced and distributed over 2000 lbs of fresh food through the Sunnyside And Woodside Mutual Aid pop up pantries. 

Our mission is to produce food beyond sustainability and distribute the food to the local pantries, while educating our neighbors in sustainability, safe urban gardening, and responsible waste management/local composting. We also strive to have a friendly green space - in a part of Queens where there are very few public parks and little street tree coverage. Here our neighbors can participate in healthy activities while doing good for their community. Our moto is “feed the soil, feed the community” pointing at the circular “economy” that we model : collecting food scraps to transform into compost, using the compost to feed the soil, which in turn feed healthy plants, that we then harvest to return to community members in need, who’s food waste can be used to produce the next batch of compost.

Our Community 

We are located at the border of Elmhurst and Woodside in the Community Board 4, Queens, an area where, according the NYC food Policy Institute’s Foodscape, the median household  income is just above 49000$, has higher child obesity and diabetes rate than NYC overall, and has over 50% of residents under rent burden (33% under extreme housing burden) while  22.5% of residents receiving SNAP benefits.

We are open to the public at minimum 2x a week, from 10 to 1 pm on Tuesdays and Saturdays, with the main volunteer workday on Saturdays (please see food scraps drop off hours for update) . We are also running a food scraps drop off where people can drop off at any time. We have processed and diverted over 3300 lbs of food waste from unsustainable waste management in the last 49 weeks (on 11/20/2023) since we started proper record keeping. 

3 Photos of Rusty before we cleaned up the land 

Our first attempt on borrowed land, and some of our first produce harvested at a a SWAMA table (in the bag on the ground) (2020)

How did we get started? 

Given the pandemic spread in the spring of 2020, and the ever-growing lines at food pantries, we decided to seek unused land to grow fresh veggies to help our neighbors in need. We found a temporary home for that project at Sunnyside Community Garden, where we were able to use 5 plots of about 8x8 feet, which were generously donated by five of the community garden members. We then Relocated to Woodside Ave when Pastor Joseph Motovani invited us to the plot of land behind the St Jacobus church building. Since March 2020, we have grown over 2000 pounds of food. The first harvest was donated to Queens Together, and the rest was donated to Sunnyside and Woodside Mutual Aid (SWMA) which was formed later that spring. SWMA operates pop-up food pantries in the Woodside (stated with 4 locations but now operating 2: one near northern BLVD in the woodside hourse, and on 61st and Roosevelt). The SWMA, and therefore we, serve approximately 200 families every week. 

With tools found in St Jacobus, donated by people who support our activities, and some composting tools provided by Big Reuse and Queens Botanical Garden Compost Project, we are growing food in the small area behind the church (~ 50 by 20 feet). With limited funding, we managed to grow a considerable amount of food (~2000 lbs in about 3 years) on a small surface. We have recorded most of the harvests’ weight throughout the seasons using  a luggage scale and shared most of our harvest on social media (Instagram and Facebook). 

Our volunteers hard at work

Our volunteers (click here to get to the volunteer page)

Our volunteers come from the neighboring communities, high schools, colleges, and from the Master Composter Program of NYC Compost Project as well. Every Saturday, we have ~ 6 volunteers helping composting, planting, maintaining, harvesting veggies and participating in different projects. Since we started keeping records of volunteers in the late spring 2023, we hosted over 100 volunteers, including a dozen of volunteers who returned multiple times over the summer and fall.

A harvest in progress  

Painting our logo in a storage for volunteer bags

The public getting ready for the Motor Company Show at Rusty 

Our Achievements 

We have done collaborative projects with other community spaces, greenhouse build with the 45th Street Composters; theater show with the Motor Company, Sunnyside Community Garden, and Moore Jackson Community Garden; neighborhood clean up with the Woodside Neighborhood association and QSWAB (queens solid waste advisory board); build a device to demonstrate how we improved the soil at Rusty and increased soil water absorption, showing our results in public events (Sunnyside community Garden, QBG, and Prospect Park) and at Adelphi University; and composting workshops with Woodside Sunnyside Composting. And finally, worked with Flowering Queens to grow plants native to the area to attract pollinators and produce seeds.

The funding from citizen committee in 2021 allowed us to get started at the current home of Rusty, purchasing tools, seeds, lumber, as well as renting a truck to transport clean soil from the stockpile organized by the office of environmental remediation office of NYC, surplus compost produced by Woodside Sunnyside Composting and 45th Street Composters, and mulch from the Queens Botanical Garden. We also built 5 composting bins, are finishing to build a rainwater recovery system (4 out of 5 barrels have provided water though late summer and fall), and a couple of seedling stations in the church basement to extend the season.  

We also fundraised successfully to extend the citizen committee funding allowing us to finish building 5 “mini- greenhouses” which allowed us to extend the growing season though the winter. 

A soil water absorbtion demonstration dusring a workship at Rusty

A public workshop at Queens Botanical Garden