PSFK reached out to Megan Paska of Hayseeds Big City Farm Supply, a pop-up shop for urban farming and beekeeping located in Brooklyn, New York. Through curated supplies, workshops, and reaffirming a do-it-yourself approach, the store bridges independent urban gardeners with the know-how they need to be successful in tending to their urban gardens. We caught up with Megan about how amongst other things, Hayseed’s hopes to take pressure off of an already strained food system.
Tell us a little about Hayseeds. Can you share some of the back story behind Hayseeds and also what prompted a pop-up store?
My partners over at Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm and I had been ordering pallets of organic chicken feed and distributing it from their loading dock to other chicken owners to save money. We started thinking about how in other aspects of our urban farming projects we had a hard time getting a fair price on goods and tools unless we ordered larger quantities…people in the community were interested in pitching in and chipping away at mountains of potting mix so we figured now was the time to start doing this sort of thing in an actual storefront. We met Trish and Maureen from Domestic Construction this fall and fell in love with their energy and style and just a few months later, here we are.
Do you see this store as contributing to larger DIY/Urban Farming movement? What do you think is driving its resurgence?
I’d like to think so. I think what our store is offering people is an accessible place to come and ask the questions they need to answers to, before they feel confident enough to get started. The bulk of our customers so far are fairly new to growing food so having a real live person with experience there to walk them through the process is a big deal. In that regard, I think we are helping to create a larger number of independent urban gardeners that might actually be successful. They may get to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor often.
Can you describe its intended appeal? How will your store cater to those both familiar and unfamiliar with urban farming and beekeeping? Is there an educational component to your store?
Our goal was to not only appeal to beginners but also provide fairly priced tools, soil amendments and seed to more experienced gardeners that normally have to pay exorbitant shipping fees to get them, oftentimes ending up with 40lbs more of one thing than they need. We wanted to be the place where a someone can go when they are about to run out of chicken feed or need some neem oil for a cucumber beetle infestation in a pinch.
We also teach Sunday classes on topics like growing mushrooms, raising chickens, composting, gardening, growing flowers and making sub-irrigated planters for rooftop gardening.
How important is your curation of products and events to the success of this pop-up? What will the workshops add to the experience?
We’ve made a real attempt to create a place that gets people inspired to get involved in the production of their own food. We think that everyone can grow something to eat in some capacity and that any little bit can help to take pressure off of an already strained food system. Growing lettuces and radishes for salads in window boxes or small buckets of oyster mushrooms in a closet is a small way to exert some food independence. More importantly, I feel that it enlightens people to the real work that farmers go through to produce these large quantities of food, giving their products more value in the eyes of those who consume them.
Beyond any political or social aspects, I just think gardening or working with animals helps people relax and even out after a crazy day of commuting around NYC.
Do you see your store as fostering a like-minded community? If yes, how so?
I hope so! Our customers are pretty diverse but the one thing they have in common is an inherent love or fascination with nature and our ongoing relationship with it. We’re just trying to spread the word that just because you live in a city, it doesn’t mean that you’ve forsaken the natural world. It’s here blooming up through the cracks of the pavement.
Photos by Trish Andersen