Hell's Kitchen, the western stretch of Manhattan between 34th Street and 57th Street is awash with food. In between the dollar pizza stands and high end restauraunts however, what was missing was accessible and healthy food options.
In 2010, four organizations, embedded in the neighborhood - Clinton Housing Development Company, Metro Baptist Church, Rauschenbush Metro Ministries, and Metropolitan Community Church decided to address this issue. The organizations drew upon their varied but crucial resources to produce what they called,
The Hell's Kitchen Farm Project.
On a bright morning in June, more than 60 volunteers assembled on 40th Street to transform an underutilized rooftop at Metro Baptist Church into something greater. The crew worked together as a bucket brigade to haul seven tons of soil up five flights of stairs in less than five hours. Once on the roof, the soil was transferred to the bright blue plastic kiddie pools that dot the roof’s surface and planted with kale, lettuce, spinach and an assortment of vegetables.
Now in its fifth growing season, the farm has become much more than soil and kiddie pools and seeds. It has become a much needed lunch break, an urban oasis, a teachable moment, and an opportunity to connect with friends, neighbors and nature. Visitors to the site often express amazement and wonder at the presence of a “Garden of Eden," literally across 9th Avenue from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Whatever form it takes for the many people who enjoy it, the farm remains driven by a mission to be a true source of connection and wellness in Hell’s Kitchen. It is fueled through the work of dedicated volunteers throughout the community and partnership with agencies invested in the health of this city.