The April opening of Hayseed’s Big City Farm Supply – the first shop in the city dedicated specifically to urban farming and gardening – represented a clear milestone in the development of the booming interest in growing stuff, mostly to eat, in Brooklyn.
When Eagle Street Rooftop Farm opened in Greenpoint in 2009, it was the first of its kind…on the planet. Joined the following year by Brooklyn Grange, a larger one-acre farm on a rooftop in Long Island City, the rooftop farms seemed to serve as a catalyst, igniting the imaginations of latent urban gardeners throughout the borough, who soon began busily growing food in previously unimaginable nooks in the urban landscape – backyards, schoolyards, windowsills and their own garden-sized rooftops. The arrival of Hayseed’s seemed to signal that after weathering an initial bout of skepticism, snark and outright scorn, Brooklyn’s urban farming and gardening movement is here to stay.
Photographer Valery Rizzo visited the shop this month. Here’s her photo tour of what’s got to be the hands-down most beautiful farm supply store on Earth.
Browsing at Hayseed’s Big City Farm Supply, Brooklyn’s first shop dedicated exclusively to urban farming and gardening. The team behind the shop goes to great lengths to inspire and teach Brooklynites to grow food.
A wall decorated with beautifully illustrated seed packets from Comstock, Ferre & Co. a 200 year old company from Wethersfield, Connecticut which specializes in heirloom and northern adapted seed stock.
All food starts with seed. In addition to Comstock, Ferre & Co seed, Hayseeds carry varieties from Fedco - a cooperative organic and non-GMO seed company from Maine. Long Black Spanish Radish (on right).
The shop carries plenty of farm tools, new and used, for those on a budget, as well as small hand tools and watering cans for apartment gardeners. They also sell bales of straw and meadow hay, good for mulching and feeding livestock, or just lounging.
The space was designed by Domestic Construction, who donated a portion of their studio space to house the shop. It features hanging shovels, repurposed wood, glowing ball jars and vintage toy farm figurines, all of which adorn the walls, tables and ceilings.
A wide selection of instructional books on subjects such as backyard farming, foraging, agriculture, worm composting, growing grains, season extension, natural beekeeping and more, are available. A farm scene created with vintage items (on right).
Books on raising livestock are of equal use to both the urban farmer and daydreamers harboring hopes of having their own farm someday. Hayseed's Co-founder Megan Paska holding Carrot, the shops mascot.
Bags of soybean-free organic chicken feed from Countryside Organics. Rabbit feed too. Vintage overalls, shirts, sundresses, hats and bags are also hot items.
Hayseed's also carries hard to find items like heirloom tobacco seed and wildflower bombs (toss them over a fence or in your garden and watch wildflowers bloom).
Hops rhizomes for homebrewers and shitake and oyster mushroom spawns. Sewing Seeds solar dye kits from Textile Arts Center use natural colors from plants grown in their Brooklyn Sewing Seeds garden.
Just getting into beekeeping? Need an extra frame or super? Hayseed's has you covered. Rooftop Ready Seeds, from Brooklyn, are open-pollinated seeds adapted to the city climate and optimized for container and rooftop gardens.
The shop also carries accessories, like these beautiful vegetable-tanned hand-crafted leather wallets by Folk Fibers and honeybee-inspired jewelry from Jenny Topolski.
Everywhere you turn in Hayseed's, you'll find books and even CDs meant to entice the farmer in you to start growing. EcoForms pots come in a variety of colors, are bio-degradable and are made with rice hulls (on right).
Hayseed's has a vast assortment of soil, compost, soil amendments and fertilizers like kelp, alfalfa and cotton-seed meal, rock phosphates, and crab and oyster shell (great for tomatoes or any fruiting plant as they promote a nice thick cell wall in fruits). The staff are always available to answer questions.
It's always an adventure at Hayseed's, as every week new and interesting items arrive at the shop.
Organic seed potatoes and red baron onion slips, to help you start your own potato and onion patch. Baskets of red, black and golden raspberry starts, horseradish and strawberries all come with a root and cane.
Outside the shop is a space called Design. Plot where there are classes and events covering subjects like seed starting, garden planning, composting, beekeeping, livestock and much more. Shipping pallets are used as horizontal and vertical planters.
Design. Plot is an experimental community garden focused on sustainability, food production, urban living, and art. The space was once an empty green space. It was saved by Domestic Construction from a plan to convert it into a covered parking garage. Growing here are corn, radishes, winter squash and beans.
Hayseed's has many creative ideas for growing food in a city's small spaces - plants can grow inside tires or burlap coffee sacs, which you can often find at your local coffee house.
The food being grown in the plot is shared and given away to the Community.
In addition to exploring different methods of growing food such as burlap bag containers, pallet green beds and vertical gardening, there are also plans to add trees and a birdhouse village to the plot.
Megan Paska, one of the co-founders of Hayseed's, in her backyard in Greenpoint. Megan's blog Brooklyn Homesteader, chronicles backyard and rooftop gardening adventures and shows how much can be done in very little space.
Megan holds one of her many hens - this one is a rare Polish Standard Buff Laced breed. A freshly lain egg inside Meg's homemade backyard chicken coop.
Domestic Construction is a collaborative design company owned by Trish Andersen and Maureen Walsh. They're also co-founders of Hayseed's. The shop was styled and designed by the duo and is housed within their studio space.
With a melding of fine art, pops of color, innovative construction techniques and creative use of materials, Domestic Construction creates an experience that can draw out the essence of any space. A light fixture resembling a window box built hangs over the front counter at Hayseeds.
Chief Beekeeper and Director of Special Projects, Chase Emmons and Chief Operating Officer Gwen Schantz of Brooklyn Grange inside the farm's hoophouse. Chase and Gwen are also co-founders of Hayseed's. Brooklyn Grange is a commercial organic farm located on a one-acre rooftop in Long Island City. A second one-acre rooftop plot is under construction at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
An iconic water tower and mural on the farm's rooftop. Gwen waters the tender greens in the farm's hoop house with a handy shower wands (available, of course, at Hayseeds.)
The entrance to Hayseed's. The shop, housed inside an old garage, offers a surprising contrast to its industrial surroundings. Lush herb and vegetable seedlings for sale.
Hayseed's Big City Farm Supply, located at 218 India Street, in Greenpoint Brooklyn, is a seasonal pop-up. This year, its first, it opened in April and will close at the end of June.
All photos (c) Valery Rizzo. All rights reserved.