Sept. 27, 2023 By Bill Parry
As Climate Week NYC drew to a close, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) announced it is partnering with Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens in Astoria to expand its Sky Farm LIC atop the Standard Motor building in Long Island City.
NYPA will contract a landscape architect to build upon the current 1-acre rooftop farm located at 37-18 Northern Blvd. and invest in amenities including the installation of a canopy structure to establish an outdoor learning area for students and community members. NYPA will also offer community workshops and learning sessions on sustainability and climate justice, while providing materials and supplies to facilitate the program.
The project directly advances NYPA’s longstanding commitment to support disadvantaged communities within New York, including the development of urban agriculture to create a more sustainable state.
“The Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens has been a wonderful partner over the years and the Power Authority is always eager to team with local organizations to engage community members and young people in sustainability, STEM and climate action learning opportunities,” NYPA President and CEO Justin Driscoll said. “With the expansion of this rooftop garden, students and community members of all ages will be able to learn about sustainable food production and environmental science, resulting in benefits for the local community and advancing the state’s sustainability goals.”
Variety acquired the rooftop urban farm in July from Brooklyn Grange which operated the rooftop farm for the past decade.
“NYPA’s exciting investment at Sky Farm LIC will allow us to provide hands-on learning in healthy eating to our students, who often do not have access to healthy fruits and vegetables in their daily lives,” Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens CEO Constantinides said. “Integrating these works with LaGuardia Community College will be an amazing opportunity to work with a world-class institution of higher learning that shares our mission of providing young people the tools to achieve the dreams of their hearts’ desire.”
NYPA will also work with LaGuardia Community College to support and develop a new curriculum that focuses on urban farming and sustainable agriculture practices, as well as food justice topics. Variety Boys and Girls Club young people will have the opportunity to participate in these learning programs, along with other community members.
“We are excited to be partnering with the New York Power Authority and the Variety Boys and Girls Clubs of Queens on the development of a new training program to introduce the young people of Queens to career opportunities in urban farming and agriculture, environmental science, sustainability, food justice, and more,” LaGuardia Community College President Kenneth Adams said. “We look to strengthen our relationship with the community and remind young people that LaGuardia can be their home for higher education.”
NYPA says it is committed to being a good neighbor to the historically underserved and marginalized communities located near its statewide facilities and assets.
Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez was at Sky Farm LIC on Sept. 22 for the NYPA announcement and she thanked them for the investment.
“I’m excited to see Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens take Sky Farm LIC to the next level as an urban agriculture learning hub through its partnership with New York Power Authority and LaGuardia Community College,” Velázquez said. “This collaboration will transform the rooftop garden into a better functioning farming and learning space. The new canopy structure will also provide protected learning space and holds great opportunity to add solar to this green roof’s climate benefits. I look forward to the climate, sustainability, and stewardship educational programs this collaboration will foster at all levels from young students to the broader community and those seeking hands-on experience for certification in urban agriculture.”
NYPA has worked with schools and community organizations throughout Queens over the last several years, including its Green Classrooms initiative at schools across Astoria, establishing programs at The Steinway, Henry David Thoreau, The Judge Charles J. Vallone School, Mamie Fay School and NYCHA’s Astoria Houses Environmental Learning Lab.
“We are proud to celebrate NYPA’s generous contributions to Sky Farm and LaGuardia Community College’s Urban Agriculture program,” State Senator Kristen Gonzalez said. “These resources will help Sky Farms develop the first-rate sustainability and agricultural programming our children deserve and help cultivate a generation of urban growers prepared to lead New York’s transition to a healthier, more sustainable future for our city.”