The Forest Farm Build

January 10, 2018  |   Posted by :   |   Blog,Projects   |   Comments Off on The Forest Farm Build»

This blog post was contributed by Urban Farm Corps Member Shamon Williams.


I am Shamon Williams, an Urban Farm Corps Member with Green City Force (GCF) from the Bronx. We had four farms when I joined GCF’s ten month AmeriCorps term, (three in Brooklyn, one in Manhattan), and we built a fifth while I was Corps Member. It’s our first one in the Bronx. I was very excited.

To start off, we chose the site at which the farm would be because we thought that it would have enough space for what we needed, and that it would get enough sun to keep the plants healthy and growing. We had to make a few adjustments, like cutting some branches down and relocating a few shrubs. We also had to avoid any water pipes or electrical generators that may require work in the future, because we wouldn’t want any damage to the farm due to necessary work from construction workers.

We laid down landscaping fabric to separate the new soil because of contaminants from the old soil. Not just bacteria, but grass and weeds too.

2018 forest roll out fabric

Next we mapped out the sun spots, meaning the areas of the field that get the most sun for the longest duration of time. Meanwhile, another team of people spread mulch around the farm and a third team worked on pathway renovation. The pathway had to be evened out a little bit. Then, we inserted railings for the edges. We then put rocks down, and added gravel on top of the rocks and padded the gravel down as well.


Then we built the beds. They were raised, meaning 18 inches tall. We also left a side of each of the beds open for deliveries of unfinished compost, (that came from our partner Brooklyn Botanic Garden), and soil that came from 20 feet deep in the earth, (it was tested before being delivered), and we mixed the soil and compost together as evenly as possible. We built the last wall on all the beds after, but to do that we had to shovel the mixture a little in order to create enough space to do so, and leveled it back out after. We also painted the wood with linseed oil to help keep bugs and rain out of it.



Usually, wood chips are not at the bottom of the bed because large pieces of wood suck up large amounts of nitrogen, which is needed for plants, but at Forest we were running very close to the deadline, so some were left in. At the bottom, wood chips help serve as a barrier against weeds and grass, and in the beds they adds color to the farm because otherwise it would be just landscaping fabric or something.

Compost is called black gold because the use or non-use of it can save or damage a plant’s growth. This is because compost is made of food scraps (nitrogen) and wood chips, coffee chaff, saw dust (carbons); which contains nutrients that the plants eat like potassium, nitrogen, etc. (basically recycling by giving back to the earth what we got out of it). We built the farm and finished right before winter really hit, which is the reason why we didn’t use finished compost. Instead, we used slightly unfinished compost which has larger chips in it but we didn’t plant anything besides garlic and cover crops. The cover crops get cut up and mixed back into the soil at the beginning of the growing season. So, by the time we are ready to plant and grow food for the residents everything should be ready.

2018 forest paint shed

We also painted the container GCF green, (sort of lime green), which holds all of our tools, to help keep it cool in the summertime, because light colors reflect more sunlight.

Most things on the farm will breakdown on a microbial level and eventually become soil, which means over time the soil and wood chips must be replaced. Wood chips on the outside of the beds, and compost at the plant’s roots or in the bed itself, before we plant in them.

dump woodchips-3

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