Frequently Asked Questions
What do you grow on Red Hook Farms? What happens to the produce?
We grow a variety of annual vegetables and perennial herbs on our farms – greens, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, leeks, root vegetables, and more. The produce is either sold at our farm stands, distributed to families through our farm-share programs, donated to the local food pantry, or taken home by our teen farm apprentices and adult staff. In the past, we have also sold to local restaurants and partner organizations.
Vegetables from Red Hook?! Isn’t the soil around here contaminated?
The soil at the Columbia Street Farm is actually 24 inches of compost in one massive raised bed, built on top of concrete. The compost came from NYC’s Department of Sanitation and has been amended over the years with compost that we produce on site. We test our soil regularly for contaminants – and it’s safe for food production. Similarly, we grow in raised beds at the Wolcott Street Farm, with purchased clean soil mixed with compost.
How did the farms weather Hurricane Sandy?
The Columbia Street Farm was heavily impacted by the superstorm in 2012 – 2 feet of brackish water inundated the farm, rendering the soil no longer arable. To recover, we removed all the original soil and completely replaced it with fresh compost (see above). We also lost our bees, a lot of farm equipment and had to take down our greenhouse. Steadily, we’ve been able to rebuild post-Sandy, with support from the city, volunteers and supporters. The Wolcott Street Farm was just being built when the storm hit, and had to be rebuilt in 2013.
Columbia Street Farm: 560 Columbia Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Wolcott Street Farm: 30 Wolcott Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Public Transit Directions: Take the G or the F train to the Smith and 9th Street station and either walk (15-20 minutes) to the farms or catch the B61 or B57 bus. You can also take the R to the 4th Ave/9th Street station, and catch the B61 bus from there. For the Columbia Street Farm, get off the bus at the Ikea stop, the farm is directly across the street. For the Wolcott Street Farm, get off the bus at the corner of Lorraine and Otsego Streets – the farm is one block away, across from the library. From lower Manhattan, you can also catch the Ikea & NYC ferries.
Can my school, camp or group come visit?
We schedule school visits in the fall and spring on weekday mornings. See the school visits page for more info or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We also work with groups who want to arrange community service days for their staff – see the volunteer section of our website for additional information.
When can I drop off compost? What do you accept?
We accept food scraps everyday, any time – stop by the Columbia/Sigourney gate (the one closest to BASIS school) or the Beard/Otsego gate (the one closest to Ikea) and you’ll see brown bins outside. Those bins are there 24/7 – please no meat, dairy, or bones. Plastic bags in the garbage please! We often do compost giveaways for the public in with Big Reuse, whom we partner with to manage collections and processing.
Do you sell compost?
We don’t sell it, we give it away! (and use a lot of it at the farm). Check our Instagram for monthly compost give-away announcements! Available for individuals, community gardens, greening groups, and the like!
Do you have bees? Chickens?
We have two beehives that are tended by a wonderful volunteer beekeeper, Tim O’Neal of Borough Bees. We mainly keep the bees for their generous pollination services, and leave the honey so the hives can sustain their own populations, especially over the winter. In 2019, our team built a chicken coop and we are now proud hosts to 7 hens. They lay green, blue, pink, and brown eggs, which our youth farmers and staff take home.
How do I sign up to volunteer? Can my child/grandchild volunteer?
We have a number of different volunteer opportunities on weekdays as well as Saturdays. All volunteers must be 14 years or older to participate. See the volunteer section of our website for additional information. Once you fill out the intake form, you’ll get a link in the auto-reply that takes you to the shift sign up!
Are you hiring? Taking interns?
Check our employment page for updates on internship and job opportunities.
Weren’t you called Added Value before? What happened?
Added Value launched as a non-profit that built the farms and offered programming for the Red Hook community from 2001-2018. All the staff and programs from Added Value were absorbed by Red Hook Initiative in the fall of 2018. Red Hook Farms, a project of Red Hook Initiative, relaunched at the end of 2018. Our new home will help increase equitable access to fresh produce and provide our youth apprentices with opportunities within RHI’s long-term youth development services.