When I decided to build a farm in Brooklyn with my friend Ryan Watson, we knew it would be supported by supper — we just didn’t know how. Then one of our volunteers turned out to be a trained chef.
The first time I met Emma Gonzalez, through the fence of the former parking lot of the Domino Sugar factory on South 3rd Street, she asked the same thing everyone else who joined our team had asked:
“What’re y’all doing in there?” Followed quickly by, “And can I help?”
That was April 2013, and over the next two months she helped us convert 10,000 square feet of the parking lot into the first site of North Brooklyn Farms, where we grow everything from D’Avignon radishes and hakurei turnips to white cherry tomatoes and red romaine.
In July, we started throwing dinner parties at Sunday sunset, serving dishes like grilled kale with sweet mustard dressing, chilled carrot soup with crisp fried capers, and Mexican chocolate-zucchini cake, all eaten amid the matrix of four-foot-wide boxes, within view of the Williamsburg Bridge.
Soon the farm will disappear, replaced with what could be the tallest buildings in Brooklyn. Meanwhile, we’re trying to milk the magic as much as possible.
“Once you spend a little time outdoors and on the farm,” says Emma, “you realize that there was a hole in your life, you realize that you were missing that thing.”