Hellgate Farm is a collective of farms and gardens located in Astoria and Long Island City in Northwest Queens with an emphasis on four primary values:
Community: Our bedrock is cultivating an internal community and supporting peripheral communities in seeking meaningful living and work situations, fostering connection to each other and to nature, and developing and sharing hard and soft skills to sustain us on a changing planet.
Hellgate Farm’s headquarters in Astoria has 14 residents of which the majority collaborate with the farm. Shared meals often occur during our busy season each week, including Saturdays for our Farm Crew and Apprentices and separate gatherings with our residents and other local groups. We strive to offer support to our neighbors and to graciously receive their gifts in turn, shifting the paradigm from one of scarcity to one of abundance.
Social, Food, and Climate Justice: We understand that modern society’s distribution of opportunities as well as future susceptibility to impending climate change is unequal for individuals depending on race and socioeconomic status. We acknowledge that the local, organic food and sustainability movements that we are a part of are often guilty of apartheid. We strive to offer opportunities and to listen to members of disenfranchised communities.
In 2018 we introduced our Sliding Scale Produce Program at our weekly farmer’s market in Socrates Park. We independently registered as an EBT vendor to make our produce more accessible to those qualifying as SNAP beneficiaries. In 2019 we are adding private subsidized CSA shares to reduce the cost by 60% and offering a payment plan utilizing the SNAP benefit funds. We also plan to introduce non-committed reduced cost fresh food boxes.
Necessary Sustainability: Our goal is to grow food and create and maintain human habitat and infrastructure while keeping fossil fuels in the ground. Rampant, thoughtless consumerism and greed promote both greenhouse gas emissions and material toxification of the earth, steering us towards collapse. The necessary response is sensibly scaled living with reduced or regenerative footprints achieved through restraint and thoughtful innovation.
In urban settings, we minimize fossil fuel use with available alternatives like biodiesel and solar for our community utilities, and utilize the bounty of salvaged materials for infrastructure. We don’t use plastic mulches in our human powered gardens and instead favor wood chips from local tree removals. We compost 5-8 tons of urban waste material per year with our community compost drop-off. In rural we disconnect from centralized utility systems favoring passive systems working with natural phenomenon.
Seed to Sauce: Much of the excitement of our program has stemmed from our small batch products making them a pillar of our farm and community. We work to constantly innovate what can be created using local, organic, raw ingredients, combined with creative culinary artisans. With each season we aim to create new products and to refine our existing ones.
Our products start as seeds that with time and care germinate to produce the high quality ingredients that are the foundation of our products, and end with delicious sauces and seasonings we are proud of. Meticulous thought has gone into the sustainability of their creation, processing, and distribution. Nearly everyone has used ketchup, but in an urban environment especially, not everyone has prepared a meal with raw produce from the ground. We hope that our products can be one way to help people connect with where our food comes from, and seriously, they just taste damn good!