Clark’s vision is a quarter-acre oasis on South Pine Street where fruits, vegetables and even chickens will provide to Kingston’s finest restaurants and most needy residents. The effort brings together Clark with the Queen’s Galley Soup Kitchen, which provides free meals and nutrition education to any who seek it. Clark’s plan calls for the farm to donate fresh produce to order for the soup kitchen, while earning a profit by selling products to area restaurants.
“You name it, we’re probably going to grow it,” said Clark who fell in love with farming after graduating from Vassar College and most recently worked as manager of the not-for-profit Phillies Bridge Farm Project in Gardiner. “It will be food that’s real, food that you pay attention to and it will be all organic, because I don’t know how to do it any other way.”
Clark’s plot is located on a quarter-acre parcel owned by the Binnewater Ice Company. Five years ago, Binnewater President Diane Davenport tore down a dilapidated house on the parcel and donated the land for use as a community garden. When the garden project failed to take off, Davenport agreed to donate the lot for Clark’s farm project.
“I would love to see a healthy, small urban farm come out of it,” said Davenport, who comes from a farming family. “I just thought it would be nice for the community, rather than an old rundown building, to have something fresh and green producing something there.”
Queens Galley Executive Director Diane Reeder said that the farm would run as an extension of the Washington Avenue not-for-profit, providing much-needed staples for the soup kitchen and for the group’s Cooking Matters program which provides free classes on healthy food preparation to kids, adults, teens and seniors around the Hudson Valley. Reeder said she hoped the farm would provide a steady flow of carrots, onions, garlic and celery, which form the basis for dozens of soup-kitchen staples.
“With donations, you never know what’s going to come in, (with the farm) you know that if the stuff grows, it’s coming into the kitchen,” said Reeder. “It gives us more control.”
Along with providing produce to the soup kitchen, Clark said the farm will grow food, including mesclun greens, beets and more for sale to area restaurants and at the city’s popular Wall Street Kingston Farmer’s Market. Clark said that the farm would capitalize on a growing awareness of the importance of fresh, local food.
“Kingston is kind of ripe for this kind of thing,” said Clark. “There are a lot of people here and people moving here who are interested in having more of a food and farm presence in their lives.”
Clark, who is the only paid employee of the farm, has already built 20 raised beds and begun fencing off the lot in anticipation of the spring growing season. Now, she’s turning to an innovative new fundraising tool to come up with the balance of the startup costs. The website kickstarter.com helps connect entrepreneurs and artists with funding. Visitors can pledge money to an array of ventures, but the money is only delivered when and if, the project hits a certain goal. As of early this week, Clark has raised $2,127 towards a goal of $5,500. The money, Clark said will pay for tools, seed, fencing and a shed. For more information or to make a tax deductible contribution, go to kickstarter.com and search for South Pine Street City Farm.