Tag Archives: Brooklyn Grange

Queens ‘Zombie Ride’ to encourage safe biking

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Kidical Mass NYC

Wheels big and small will be going round and round this weekend through western Queens.

Advocacy organization Kidical Mass NYC will be hosting its third family bike ride and the first in Queens on Saturday, Oct. 25, through parts of Long Island City and Astoria.

The event, called “Zombie Ride,” will be a five-mile bike ride starting at the waterfront at Gantry Plaza State Park at the intersection of Center Boulevard and 47th Avenue.

The ride is open to intermediate-level bike riders or children ages 7 and up with good street-riding skills. Children in baby seats and on cargo bikes are also welcome to be a part of the event. 

“[We want to] make an opportunity to get kids to go around a city you walk, ride buses and drive in. It’s another way to get around,” said Hilda Cohen, one of the co-founders of Kidical Mass NYC.  “A lot of parents want to do this but are intimidated about it. It’s really a great way to see your city.”

The ride, which is named in the spirit of Halloween, will then continue through the Long Island City neighborhood and make its first stop at the rooftop garden Brooklyn Grange. After taking a rest stop at coffee shop COFFEED, the group will pass the Museum of the Moving Image and head back toward the waterfront to finish the ride at Socrates Sculpture Park, which will be hosting its Fall Festival. 

The young participants will also receive “spooky” treats such as zombie tattoos. 

“The name [of the event] has nothing to do with anything dangerous,” Cohen said. 

Kidical Mass NYC, which is the New York-based branch of the original Kidical Mass founded in Oregon, pays tribute to the national cycling event called Critical Mass.

Since starting in August, rides have taken place once a month in Brooklyn and Manhattan, bringing together about 40 participants, including adults and children. Now organizers have expanded the reach into Queens, hoping to attract residents from the other boroughs.

“Queens is the next big borough,” said Cristina Furlong of the organization Makes Queens Safer, who is helping Kidical Mass NYC organize the Queens event. “Queens is starting to get noticed.”

Members of the 108th and 114th precincts will also be in attendance on Saturday to provide extra security for the riders. 

“By being visible, I hope we influence some people that might be considering [cycling with their children] and show them that it’s safe,” Furlong said.

According to Cohen, although the event aims to show families that biking through their neighborhoods is a safe alternative to driving, the main goal of the day is to have fun. 

“We’re trying to make everything fun and exciting, which is exactly what biking is and it shouldn’t be something dangerous,” Cohen said. “This is just a means to enjoy our city with our kids.”

The “Zombie Ride” will begin at 10 a.m., with riders beginning to gather at 9:30 a.m. Cohen encourages those interested in participating to RSVP via the group’s Facebook page in order for every participant to receive their Halloween treats. Helmets are required for children 13 years old and under by law, and are recommended for everyone else, according to organizers. 

For more information visit www.facebook.com/kidicalmassnyc.


Rural Route Film Festival to celebrate 10 years in NYC

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Antipode Films

One international film festival is celebrating its 10th NYC extravaganza with a weekend bash in Astoria.

The Rural Route Film Festival, organized by Astoria-based filmmaker Alan Webber, is marking a decade of showcasing international films that transport viewers beyond city life and into rural, country scenarios.

The event began in 2003, and through 2008-2009 Webber traveled around all the seven continents presenting the festival and its films.

“When Elephants Walk, the Grass Gets Beaten” (Photo courtesy of Silent Land)

This year’s anniversary celebrations will start on Friday, Aug. 8, and go on until Sunday, Aug. 10, at the Museum of the Moving Image, located at 36-01 35th Ave.

One of the themes for the festival this year, which will showcase five features and 11 short films, is the ancient pagan cultures of Eastern Europe. Films include those from Ukraine, Russia, Slovenia, Hungary, Somaliland, the United Kingdom and United States.

“I’m so proud the festival has been going this long,” Webber said. “Our 10th annual is not what I would’ve originally expected, with a wild sort of pagan theme, but the content is even better, and so much fun that I can’t wait to take it in myself.”

Select screenings will also be accompanied by appearances from filmmakers and live music.

For more information and a full schedule of the entire screenings, visit www.ruralroutefilms.com.

“Alan Webber has put together a truly dazzling and spectacular program of films for the 10th edition of the Rural Route Film Festival,” said David Schwartz, chief curator at the Museum of the Moving Image. “The selection of new and classic films and music will truly transport the audience.”

“Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors” (Photo courtesy of Kino-Lorber)

The festival will conclude on Aug. 10 with a closing night program at the Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm located at 37-18 Northern Blvd. in Long Island City.

Tickets for each program at the museum are $10 for the public and free for museum members. A $27 festival pass for all screenings is also available. Advance tickets and passes are available at movingimage.us or at 718-777-6800.



LIC Standard Motor building sale could fetch more than $100M: report

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The sale of a 315,000-square-foot Long Island City building could bring in a hefty profit as the neighborhood becomes more appealing to commercial tenants, according to a published report.

Acumen Capital is selling the Standard Motor Products property, at 37-18 Northern Blvd., six years after it purchased the building for around $40 million, Crain’s New York reported. Sources tell Crain’s it could fetch more than $100 million.

The real estate investment company acquired the building from Standard Motor Parts, a manufacturer of replacement parts for motor vehicles, in March 2008, according to Acumen’s website.

CBRE, which is is handling the sale, told Crain’s steady rent from the building’s existing tenants combined with potential new renters in Long Island City’s “rising leasing market,” would be a financial benefit for the future owner.

Current occupants include The Jim Henson Company and the Brooklyn Grange, a 43,000-square-foot rooftop organic farm, according to Acumen.


Green businesses growing in LIC

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

Environmentally friendly businesses in Long Island City are perfecting green living in an urban setting.

Coffeed, a java joint on the ground floor of the Brooklyn Grange building on Northern Boulevard, serves sandwiches, soups and salads, crafted from ingredients grown on the roof of their building. The top deck of the six-story LIC building holds an acre of farm-fresh goods, picked ripe and dropped right on the tables of patrons in the café downstairs.

“You know the guy who grows your carrots and roasts your coffee,” said Coffeed co-owner Frank Raffaele. “It’s farm to table and I’m just really happy to do that in a super, hyperlocal way.”

The eco-advocate says he intends to keep the farm going year-round, changing crops depending on the season. Currently, the rooftop oasis yields eggplant, kale, cherries, arugula and radishes. Coffeed sources most of their coffee from Africa but has it ground by a local company on Long Island. Eventually, Raffaele says he would love to grow his own beans.

Ten percent of the outfit’s sales go to City Growers, an organization that educates city children about the process and benefits of urban farming. Raffaele says it’s the first time many young people experience provincial living the beginning stages of food preparation and that many city residents miss developing a connection with the way food is grown and sourced.

“From a community standpoint, you are buying products from people who work and live in your community,” said Raffaele. “It’s just like a small town. There’s something nice that people in New York don’t have.”

While locally sourcing the best ingredients remains Coffeed’s ultimate goal, Raffaele said balancing costs and principles is complicated.

“It’s a tough niche because we want to give the best quality and source everything locally but that’s a little more expensive,” said Raffaele. “We’re trying to strike a balance.”

The farm-to-table movement isn’t limited to food. Locally-sourced flowers are gaining popularity in the neighborhood, thanks to a two-month-old business.

Debbie Demarse, owner of online flower shop NYC Farm Chic Flowers, is bringing the “farm-to-vase” movement to Long Island City, pushing the ecological and economic benefits to choosing locally-grown blooms.

Roughly 80 percent of flowers sold in the United States are imported and 50 percent of flowers shipped into the country perish en route and are thrown away before they hit the store. According to Demarse, American farmers have been forced to shut down or cut back because of the increased number of imported flowers, a trend she believes would change if people knew they had a choice.

“It’s all about education and getting the word out there,” said Demarse. “Most people don’t know there’s a choice when buying flowers.”

Demarse selects most of her flowers from growers on Long Island and a greenhouse in Hudson Valley. She has also begun working with Brooklyn Grange, the same company that partnered with Raffaele to start Coffeed.

Demarse, who buys flowers per order to cut down on the 50 percent that hit the floor, said there are no downsides or limitations to solely sourcing from local growers. The products she sells are made without harmful pesticides that have been known to cause chemical burns and cancer among famers.

Both Demarse and Raffaele hope to educate Long Island City residents about the benefits to sourcing and purchasing locally-grown and locally made items, building a self-sufficient and connected community.