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Photos: Down on the farm, Queens-style

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Created the year after Superstorm Sandy, Edgemere Farm in Far Rockaway is about the size of a city block, but it supplies half a dozen restaurants on the penninsula with herbs and vegetables and is a thriving weekend farmstand.
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Pam Mullen (l.) and Matthew Sheehan run Edgemere and are veterans of the urban farm business who settled in the Rockaways when they found the under-utilized lot the year after the storm.
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The front gate of Edgemere on Beach 45th Street advertises the produce available each week at farmstand. The group that runs it, the East Rockaway Growing Coalition, says it puts all its profiits back into the farm.
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The Gotham Greens operation uses the latest form of urban argiculture — a highly automated, capital intensive, climate controlled process that and grows food yearround.
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One of three Gothem Greens rooftop-growing operations in New York, this greenhouse sits atop a Banana Republic warehouse on Jamaica Avenue in Hollis. The other two locations are in Brooklyn.
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It takes just 30-40 days to go from seedling to harvest because conditions in the 6,000-square-foot greenhouse are so carefully regulated.
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The greens are grown in a material called rockwool, a mixture of stone and sand that is melted then spun into fibers. It holds water much better than regular dirt.
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Jen Griffith (l.) is the agricultural director of the Queens County Farm Museum, which at 2.5-acres is the largest farm in the borough.
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Nearly all the produce from the museum’s fields goes to supply its farmstand, which is open five days a week in summer.
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The range of produce at the museum farm goes from corn and broccoli rabe to squash and flowers, which are sold to several local florists.
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Wasps find a home in an unpicked peach at the Smiling Hogshead Ranch, a co-op farm tucked by the LIRR tracks in Long Island City. The half-acre plot supplies about 35 member families with produce.
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The Long Island City skyline looms over the Hogshead plot, a reclaimed piece of abandoned LIRR property that the group pays $350 a year to rent.
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Mia Roy (r.) and Gil Lopez were two of the co-founders of Hogshead in 2013. The farm got its name when a pig skull turned up during the first clean out of the land.

Against the odds, farms are making a comeback — and thriving — in Queens. Not community gardens, which have always had a soft spot to grow in the borough, but real, working, feed-the-people farms.

The farmsteads come in several types, and while none will challenge the established agribusiness, they are making money from the stuff that comes out of the ground, and that’s a big deal.

In the rough-and-tumble Edgemere neighborhood is the pocket-sized Edgemere Farm, founded out of the ruins of Superstorm Sandy in 2013.

In Hollis, the future of urban agriculture sits on the sixth floor of a Banana Republic warehouse. The greenhouse can grow greens — from seedlings to harvest — in just a month.

The Queens County Farm Museum is the last of the farmsteads from the old days, saved from development in the 1970s by a few forward-thinking community leaders. It produces more than $100,000 worth of food for its farm stand every summer.

And the in Long Island City, under the spreading stand of high-rises, is the Smiling Hogshead Ranch, run by a group of families who contribute $35 a year and six hours a month of physical work to farm a half-acre piece of ground that used to be part of the LIRR railyard.

Here’s what life looks like down on the farm.

Updated 1:18 pm, September 12, 2018
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