THE “FARM-TO-TABLE” movement sprouted wings this fall when JetBlue Airways’ announced its latest project: T5 Farm, a 24,000-square-foot produce garden located just outside Terminal 5 at John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens. The farm-to-flight program also involves composting food waste produced by participating terminal restaurants.
Sophia Mendelsohn, JetBlue’s manager of sustainability, embarked on the urban farm project partly because the company already was sending its food waste to the Hudson Valley to be composted and made into nutrient-rich soil. “It’s important to show that there’s more to New York than New York City,” Mendelsohn explains. “We picked Royal Waste Services because they compost in the Hudson Valley.”
McEnroe Organic Farm in Millerton receives about 300 pounds of food waste daily from participating Terminal 5 restaurants to compost, which is then transported back to the farm and spread over strategically selected crops—salad greens, root vegetables and herbs—specifically chosen to avoid attracting wildlife.
T5 Farm primarily grows blue potatoes for Terra Blue Chips, JetBlue’s official in-flight snack. The farm is expected to produce about 1,000 pounds of potatoes twice a year, which they plan to contribute to Terra’s blue chip production. Terminal 5 restaurants and eateries also will use many of the harvested vegetables and herbs, while a small portion will be sent to local food pantries.
In the future, local school groups will be able to visit the farm to learn about sustainable agriculture, greenhouse gas emissions and urban farming. JetBlue already features the only post-security outdoor airport space in the state and is hoping to eventually grant farm access to airline passengers, as well.