By Julie Shapiro
FINANCIAL DISTRICT — Something new is growing in Battery Park.
This spring, the Battery Conservancy is launching its first-ever Urban Farm at the Battery, an enormous community garden that will stretch across 1 acre of the Great Lawn.
"It's here for anyone who thirsts to get their hands in the soil," said Warrie Price, president of the Battery Conservancy. "Please come — we need help!"
In a playful nod to Zelda the turkey, the park's most famous resident, the farm will be shaped like a bird. Designer Scott Dougan crafted a bamboo fence to enclose the farm, which will trace out the contours of the beloved turkey, from beak to tail feathers.
Price said Zelda, who has lived in Battery Park since 2003, recently stopped by the farm to poke around the massive piles of soil that just arrived.
The idea for a farm came from Millennium High School students, who asked last fall if they could plant a vegetable garden in the park, Price said. The initiative soon sparked interested at other nearby schools, and Price said she has already signed up more than 450 students from kindergarten through 12th grade who want to participate.
Price has also reached out to local restaurant owners, who may grow produce and herbs for their dishes, and she is eager for downtown residents to claim some of the 80 plots as well.
"This is here for the community," Price said.
The farm will officially launch with a ceremony April 11 at 10 a.m., but volunteers are already spreading the soil and preparing it for plants, Price said.
The conservancy hopes to harvest up to three crops a year. Early planting options include arugula, cucumbers, mint, radishes and turnips, which could all be ready to eat by June.
The farm stretches along State Street, in the part of the park that was torn up several years ago for the construction of the new South Ferry subway station. Price sees the garden as a way of healing the land after all the disruption.
The farm will likely stay in place through the end of 2012, but then the area will go under construction again, to become part of the park's new bikeway and perennial garden.
To find out more about the farm or to volunteer, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.