Imagine a private outdoor dinner with friends and family on a beautiful, warm Rockaway summer night in the rustic setting of a farm, being able to gaze up at the starry sky, faces caressed by a gentle breeze from the ocean, and tantalized with a multiple course menu of sumptuous food and drinks, all created from locally-grown and -sourced ingredients. All this and more, can be yours at Edgemere Farm, which could use a little help from the community.
Edgemere Farm is a half-acre urban farm located in the beachside community on Beach 44th Street. In 2013 its founders transformed an underutilized lot on Beach 45th Street into a lush and productive space, where a wide variety of fresh and locally grown vegetables, flowers and herbs are cultivated. Bees, chickens and many varieties of pollinators also make the farm their home. The team behind the Farm has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of making improvements to this beloved community resource.
According to Heidi Woolever, former sheep farmer, educator, Edgemere Farm grower and founder of Rockaway Herbs, the Kickstarter campaign initiative was spearheaded by chefs and Beach 97th Street Citysticks concessionaires, Justin Harter and Matt Blance.
“The Farm collaborated with Justin and Matt last summer. On our Saturday morning farm stand, they hosted a breakfast, coined the Cowboy Corral. It was this mouthwatering offering of farm-fresh Belgian waffles, an all-organic egg hash featuring bread from a local baker, a bevy of smoothies and a green drink to boot. It was such a hit,” Woolever exclaimed.
“Then Justin and Matt also started hosting dinners with more amazing food and a theater performance. We loved collaborating with them. So, at the end of the season last year, we talked about working together again for 2017. However, to continue the same menu of activities this year, they saw some critical physical improvements that the Farm needed to both improve the overall operation and enhance the experience of the farm for our visitors,” Woolever said.
Woolever explained, “For operational uplifts, the Citysticks duo identified that the Farm needed power for our cold storage, which we, the team of growers at the Farm, also agreed was a critical need. We already built the cooler, so these funds will help us to employ an electrician to install a pole and get power from the grid, which will provide electricity for the refrigerator and other devices on the Farm.” When asked about solar power, Woolever said that they did try to use a little solar power energy last year, but it was not enough to consistently run a refrigerator. Also, the cost of going full solar would be too much. “We are not at that level of funding to go solar,” Woolever said.
“Also, we agreed that overall, the farm needs to be more handicap accessible. Right now the entry path leading to the farm stand has gravel, and it’s difficult to maneuver if you are in a wheelchair or for those walking with a cane. We want to repave the pathway into a hard, smooth surface so that it is easy for anyone to walk on.
“We also have a lot of seniors coming to the Farm with WIC Checks (Senior shares), so having a cane or any difficulty walking, the present gravel surface could be difficult to walk on,” Woolever said.
As for the sink and drainage issue the Farm faces, Woolever said, “We have had an ongoing challenge with the sink as we don’t have a sewer drain, so we have to physically pump all the water out, which is not a bad thing, as the best use of grey water is to recycle it in the compost or on plants. However, it became a really big challenge with events. Taking dishes off site to run them through a dishwasher became a hassle. Obviously, we want everything extremely clean because when you are dealing with food, you have to be extremely clean and safe. We only use Dr. Bronner’s soap, and are really vigilant about not washing any meat or grease in the same basin. In addition, we also have a rain catchment that we share with our neighbor farm next door, which catches the rain that runs off the roof into a cistern, that we are able to access.
“A few years back, someone had left this beautiful old, antique soap stone double-basin sink. With the Kickstarter funding help, we are going install it and use buckets underneath, and empty them as needed and reuse the grey water. Eventually next year, maybe we will dig an underground tank, and source local Broad Channel company, Call A Head to pump out the water,” Woolever said.
In terms of the aesthetic amendments, Woolever and her team, with the Citysticks chefs input, identified that the picnic tables desperately need to be refurbished. “They are old and a bit splintery, so we want to sand, polish and paint the picnic tables for a more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing experience for diners,” Woolever said.
Edgemere Farm and the Citysticks team have set their Kickstarter fundraising goal at $6K. Based on the money donated, some awards donators can receive include: Having the farm for a whole night, with a private dinner for up to 10 people; a breakfast or dinner for two at the Farm; voucher for Woolever’s CSA, Rockaway Herbs, which includes tinctures, teas and ointments; an Edgemere Farm T-shirt and a social media shout out. Depending on what you choose, donators will receive all that is included under the contributed price point.
Edgemere Farm’s Kickstarter campaign went live, Thursday, March 9, and they only have 30 days to raise the entire $6K.
Woolever said, “If we don’t reach our goal, we don’t get any of the money. That’s just how Kickstarter works. I guess it is a motivator to get you to reach your goal.”
For more information on how you can support Edgemere Farm, visit kickstarter.com/projects/1985209985/edgemere-farm-in-rockaway-beach-needs-your-help
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