Hello, everyone—Joel Zenie will be the farmer at South Pine Street Farm in 2016 and Trish Hawkins will be his trusted aide-de-camp. We’re both very happy to be growing vegetables at South Pine Farm for another year. Our opening day is May 30 and our farm stand hours will be the same as last year M-W-F 3 to 7 pm. Something new: this year we will be joined by Ted Griese, who will be growing flowers and helping to communicate with more Kingstonians about the Farm.
Do you know the history of South Pine Street City Farm? If you haven’t been to the Farm, it is on South Pine street, south of Greenkill Avenue. We’re right near the infamous 5 corners where everyone does pretty well with taking turns, also near the route 32 to Rosendale and the Stewart’s there and the wonderful Cakebox bakery and lunch place. We are on a lot right across from the Binnewater Ice Company. The whole lot is probably about ¼ acre.About half of the lot is under cultivation, the front half. We have 20 wooden raised beds, each measuring 20 feet by 4 feet. We have a small wonderful roofed farm stand and a delicate wooden gate that looks a little Japanese. Actually a guy dropped by last summer to see how the gate was doing—he had made it, it had been in his garden, and he had given it to Jessica Clark when she was first building the South Pine Farm 4 years ago. The back half of the lot has trees, some lawn, a perennial shade garden that has lost touch with the man who created it a few years ago and needs more loving care, a small shed to store tools, compost heaps with lots of leaves and coffee grounds, and two large picnic tables, suitable and open for picnics, lunchtime meetings, and resting in the shade of trees.
In addition to the vegetables and strawberries we grow, just the place itself has value for Kingston, I believe. Let me tell a bit about how the Farm came to be. Binnewater Ice is now owned and operated by Diane Davenport. Her somewhat illustrious farm-family took it over—the Binnewater building was built as an ice house, and Diane’s family used it to store the ice they packed their corn and broccoli in when they loaded their produce onto trucks to transport it. Now the business of Binnewater Ice is to store,cool and truck drinking water in jugs and bottles to the community. The Binnewater building itself, with its huge cold rooms, and long loading dock, and little cockpit like room in the front,is unusual and fascinating. The lot across the street, where the farm now it, used to be a big house—possibly occupied by the owner of the icehouse. By the time Diane inherited Binnewater Ice, that house had been divided into apartments and was rather broken down. After some thought, Diane decided to tear it down and to use the lot to do something good for the neighborhood and the city, possibly a garden. Then she ran into Rebecca Martin, who with others had founded the Kingston Land Trust. Rebecca suggested to Diane that the lot could be turned into a small farm under the farmership of Jessica Clark. Jessica was and is a great farmer who lived nearby, as Joel and I do, and she was looking for a farm at that time. Diane liked the idea, and liked Jessica. It was a real community effort, led by Rebecca and Jessica, to get the lot transformed into the farm we know today. Another part of the setup was that Jessica grew food for Diane Reeder at the Queens Galley on Washingston Avenue, which as you probably know used to serve free meals to those living in the boarding house on Washington Avenue and to others in the community. Joel and I would love to find a similar setup: supplying a community kitchen that appreciates fresh and sustainably grown vegetables. We’ll see!
The farm on South Pine Street is still under the umbrella of the Kingston Land Trust, and we are also a member of Eatwell Kingston. And up until now, each year there has been a different farmer: Kaycee Wimbish farmed there the second year, then she established the farm at the YMCA. Philip Horwarth farmed there the third year, And Joel and I were the farmers for the fourth year—and are very happy to be starting our second year in 2016.
As a friend said the other day, South Pine Street City Farm is an oasis in the city. It is beautiful, and the picnic tables are under the shade of a huge tree, which keeps them cool in the heat of summer. We feel strongly that the farm is a place of beauty. Without being too organized about it, we’d like people to visit , enjoy, buy vegetables, and feel at home.
Joel and I hope to see you this summer at the farm. “I’m talkin’about South Pine Street City Farm!” You can walk there from Uptown and from Midtown. And just around the corner, South Wall Street is a good route to the Rondout!
We’ll see you at the farm. Let’s all have a wonderful Spring, Summer and Fall!