New City Public School Urban Farm was established in June 2010, in Long Beach Ca. The abandoned lot, formerly a 1920's ostrich farm and then a series of parking lots, was cleared, leveled, and shoveled into it's current bed & orchard design by school and community members. The Port of Long Beach donated three large container bins (we painted them a bright "barn" orange!) to serve as a tool shed, a future office and farm stand. A nominal lease from the City of Long Beach sealed the deal and New City Urban Farm was born.
Worth mentioning is that our inspiration was a weekend course at The Edible Schoolyard Academy. School administrators and a lead volunteer spent two days of discovery and hands-on education working in the ESY garden, exploring garden curriculum, and preparing organic meals in the on site kitchen, just as the students at Martin Luther Middle School in Berkeley have had the privilege of participating in for over 10 years.
Our farm classes began in 2011, with a fledgling garden planted, big plans, and 500+ students waiting their turn to experience nature by digging in, right on their own new “campus”! Local garden designer and horticulturist Kathleen Irvine created and taught site-specific curricula that covered a wide range of subjects and grew along with the maturation of the garden. An orchard was planted, berry vines situated to cover the perimeter fence, and volunteers built a 3-section compost bin. Later, a grape arbor was erected and planted with 4 grape varieties to create a natural awning for our bench-lined outdoor classroom. Each multi-age class participated in a series of 10 seasonally oriented lessons on subjects such as composting, plant & water cycles, native plants and their uses, conservation & sustainability, and simple preparation of our garden’s harvest. Students read and wrote garden-inspired poems, used a variety of mediums to capture the farm flora and fauna in their artwork, and used magnifying glasses to get up close and personal with garden flowers and insects.
Future plans for the Urban Farm include summer enrichment programs, weekend community garden and "getting green" classes, shared-space lessons with nearby schools, and partnerships with local food banks and farmers markets.