A popular Brooklyn community farm faces a permanent crop failure in a suddenly looming lease dispute with its landlord.
Volunteers at the Bushwick City Farm (BCF) are fighting for the survival of the popular outpost that grows and distributes free fruits and vegetables to neighborhood residents.
“We need these things for the community,” said Brooklyn native Lois Walcott. “We have a lot of struggling families around here.”
The farm, to its surprise and chagrin, received a terse letter late last month from property manager Roshodesh Farmarz announcing the termination of their lease effective Aug. 31.
The volunteers are seeking an extension to Feb. 1 in hopes of working out a plan to keep the six-year-old farm operational at its rent-free Stockton St. location.
“We received the letter in the mail a few weeks ago and everyone is scared and scrambling to figure out what to do,” said BCF volunteer Laurel Leckert.
The BCF lot, located opposite the Sumner Houses, opened in 2011 after the volunteers’ first space on Broadway was sold to a condo developer.
“We are afraid it’s going to be the same situation,” said Leckert, a bookkeeper.
The original BCF began in an abandoned lot strewn with trash and hypodermic needles on Broadway.
The farm, in addition to its production of cherry tomatoes, grapes, cucumbers and kale, educates local youth about agriculture and animals.
The BCF is powered by solar panels, and houses 50 chickens, eight ducklings and a turkey named Petunia. Last year, the farm began raising tilapia.
“Before we moved the farm here, the lot was totally abandoned for many years. It was an eye sore and made the neighborhood dangerous,” said Leckert.
Attempts to reach Farmarz for a response to the farm’s extension request were unsuccessful Saturday.
Local mom Evelyn Williams said the farm is a boon to the area for a variety of reasons. Her daughter Tamara, now 14, started volunteering there immediately after the doors opened.
“The farm has helped educate and improve the way of living to so many kids and their families, including my own,” said Williams, 51.
Tamara Williams said the farm provided neighborhood kids with a place to hang out and get away from urban life.
“I love the farm,” said the teen.
Diego Campos, 15, said he understood the economics of the proposed farm closing.
“I get it that this is his property and he wants to sell it,” said Campos. “But why would you take away an outdoor space?
“We are out here and now they want to take it away. I don’t get it.”
With the clock ticking, the volunteers have started a petition, will host a letter writing and put calls in to local representatives asking for their help on Sunday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.