As the leaves change, what we grow does too

Each week, a student from NYU’s Urban Agriculture class will share their perspective. This week, Liza Howard updates us on the farm lab’s fall plans. 

Liza and Laurel double-digging some soil in preparation for fall crops.

While many people associate fall with the end of summer’s abundance — perhaps even mourning the disappearance of those mountains of courgettes from the market — it is also a time to shift gears and celebrate the bounty of cooler-weather crops. Yes, those kales, chards, and bitter mizuna lettuces that made you wrinkle your nose as a child are now almost ready for planting at the NYU Farm Lab.

We have been busy these past couple of weeks preparing the farm for our fall crops.  After harvesting the last rainbow-hued glut of tomatoes, we got to work clearing and weeding the beds. A series of volunteer days was spent clearing the land and digging new rows.

Volunteers stake out fall beds.

Removing the matted, weedy mass of bindweed and mallow, we measured out beds and turned the earth, adding ample compost to enrich the soil and make it as tilthy as possible.  During one afternoon of work, our Farmer-in-Chief Laurel (who is not Obama) aptly remarked, “who needs the gym when you can work your biceps with a spade?”  It is tangible, rewarding work – and nice to think that what we feed the land now can feed us later.


We spent a windy Thursday afternoon a few weeks ago sowing a multitude of seeds (including cavolo nero, bok choy, and brassicas), and our seedlings are almost ready to be planted out.  They shot up under the grow-lights in the Food Studies office, but they need to be in the ground to really thrive.

The fun part about farming is that is allows us to be creative: maybe we are sowing later than normal for broccoli, but why not try it and see what happens?  We will keep you posted as we go.

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