The Queens County Farm Museum is on its way to building its education center, which will mark the first new construction on the site since the 1920s.
“We have about $15 million assembled in city funding to build the first education and visitor center here,” City Councilmember Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) revealed Sept. 24 to a group of constituents touring the farm as part of his Senior Appreciation Month event scheduling.
The Queens Farm announced it would begin raising $14 million for an education center in June 2019 to expand its progammming. During a press conference in December, Jennifer Walden Weprin, the museum’s executive director, revealed half the funds had been raised and that administrators were working with city officials to raise the rest. Less than a year later, the monies have been secured thanks to the City Council Queens Delegation, the Mayor’s Office, the city Department of Cultural Affairs and the Queens Borough President’s Office, as well as Grodenchik and Councilmember Peter Koo (D-Flushing).
The museum revealed the renderings for its new building in June 2019 and showed that the education center will span 17,634 square feet to include two floors, not including a cellar. The right half of the building, which will include a utility room and a teaching kitchen, will be completed first as part of phase one, followed by the left side of the building.
The educational center was imagined in response to the significant number of students who visit the farm each day. According to the farm, over 100,000 of its annual visitors before the pandemic were students from every City Council district in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. Student visitation drops to 150 a day during the winter months because the campus does not have indoor facilities that could support the public, an issue the education center seeks to address.
School-to-farm educational programs, adult educational programs, visitor services and more are expected to be conducted out of the new building. Amenities include exhibition space, an auditorium, orientation space, archival storage, meeting rooms, a cafeteria and teaching kitchen as well as multi-use spaces.
“Queens Farm’s Education Center will expand the farm’s capacity to serve the public for generations to come,” Weprin said in a statement. “What better place to grow environmental citizens in New York City than at this historic 300 year old farm?”
A timeline for the project or location for where the education center will be erected has not yet been revealed.
Despite receiving funding aid for the project from Cultural Affairs, the Queens County Farm Museum is not considered a city cultural institution, though not for lack of trying. Also during the Sept. 24 tour, Assemblymember David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) noted that the two-decade-long effort to make the farm the borough’s eighth official Cultural Institutions Group member is still ongoing.