Tenth Acre Farms: An Abandoned Brooklyn Basketball Court Transformed into a Lush Green Space

by , 06/30/11

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Tenth Acre Farms was started in 2009 by three guys — Jordan Hall, Bennett Wilson, and Adam Wilson –who work part-time for CollegeHumor.com, all of whom grew up with farming families. The project began as a small backyard garden behind Hall’s apartment in East Williamsburg, then expanded to the abandoned basketball court at St. Cecilia’s School at 215 Richardson St. in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

The farm is 100 percent organic, but the group says they will never apply for the official USDA certification because it is expensive, and it would unnecessarily raise the cost of Tenth Acre’s produce. Still, they give their word that no chemical ever touches the plants or soil.

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The produce grows in raised beds, which means that they can use real soil and absolutely no “soil substitutes.” Fake soil does not allow for a healthy microbial and worm population, meaning that the soil is not as nutritious for the plants. Raised beds also mean that no feet ever have to trample on the soil, so the roots are free to grow wherever they like, including the spaces in between rows. Walking between rows of vegetables may seem like a totally normal thing to do on a farm, but it puts unnecessary stress on the roots, forcing the plants to use energy to fix their root systems rather than growing vegetables. To top if off, the raised beds mean that the soil and roots are above ground. This lets the soil heat up faster in the spring and cool down slower in the winter, giving Tenth Acre Farms a growing season that is three to five weeks longer than other farms.

The small farm — it’s literally a tenth of an acre — grows nearly seven tons of food each year. They compost as much as possible, putting the rich soil right back into their crops.  The farmers sell their harvest at a market located on their farm, and they encourage visitors to walk through the farm as well. For the first time this year, Tenth Acre also started a CSA for the local community.

+ Tenth Acre Farms



  1. Aussie.Ker.In.NYC September 11, 2015 at 7:23 pm
    Fantastic work guys! An enterprising and positive contribution to the city.
  2. bennettwilson October 2, 2013 at 11:23 am
    No seeds from Monsanto, Cargil, or any other GMO producer are ever used in any of our urban agriculture projectss. They are not sustainable products. Most of our seeds come from Johnny's Seeds and the rest we save or get from other farmers. The beds were made of untreated douglas fir. This was a cost saving measure as we had no long term lease agreement with the church. We have since had to move the farm and some of the wood had been repurposed for raised beds in other projects with success. Cedar is by far the best way to go if you have the money and a long enough timeline to justify the investment. With douglas fir, you are looking at about 5 years before they rot, but about 25% the cost of cedar. We have also had good success with old floor joists that are 3" x 8" untreated douglas fir and the will hold up much better than the 2x6s you get at home depot.
  3. naturalfarmer January 6, 2013 at 1:03 pm
    which seeds are used? Monsanto?
  4. Tricia Kauffman January 6, 2013 at 10:18 am
    We are now living our dream on a 10.83 acre homestead, so we are not urbanites, but I would love to copy your plan. Can you give specifics on materials you used to make the raised beds? I would think that anything but treated lumber or cedar would not last long, but treated lumber would negate the 100% organic concept, and from what I can tell in the photos, it doesn't appear to be cedar (not to mention, cedar would be cost prohibative). Also, what soil did you initially use to fill the beds? I currently compost, and have horses and chickens for manure, but it definitely would not be enough to add to our soil as an amendment for the number of beds I want. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me! And thanks, also, for providing such a wonderful example and service to your community!
  5. fineartmarcella January 5, 2013 at 6:44 am
    I like how tall the raised beds are making it easier to reach and easier for old backs like mine! I've thought about doing this with cinder blocks for a longer lifespan. Being built on this court gives the walking path a 'nonmuddy' work area. Great work and thank you for sharing!!!
  6. SYLVIA BROCKWELL January 2, 2013 at 11:03 am
    what wood do u use for the walls for the raised beds?
  7. drada dobluth June 30, 2011 at 10:50 pm
    Did the "Harvard" economist ever think about what the extra 400+ people per high rise apartment were going to eat and how they were going to supply it? There is a special place for people like him.