Agrarian Urbanity & Other Strange Pairings

My parents emigrated here from lands where the sheep roam free and the goats know very little about YouTube. They knew full well when crossing the Atlantic that, in the great metropolis of New York City, life would be a far cry from the motherland’s pastoral living. They obviously didn’t know about The Queens County Farm Museum.

Long Islanders east of the shellacked ’burbs know a lot about farms for sure. The fields of corn and grapes are practically a calling card for our region. But very few of us know or expect that the slick gent next door would have a pair of overalls hanging in the mudroom. The Queens County Farm Museum might pop up on a Google search for an unusual place to get married or find its way into someone’s phone as a fun space to hold the next business event, but it’s also one of the most remarkable historic landmarks around…and oldest. 47 acres are primed for your imaginative inclinations, exemplifying Queens County’s “300-year history of agriculture and farming as a way of life.” There’s the ambience of the centerpiece farmhouse around which pigs oink, chickens cross the road and alpacas literally eat stalks of grass out of your hand while whispering sweet exotic utterings into your ear if you let them (funky breath). There’s also the possibility of taking home honey from the farm’s colony of authentic Italian honeybees. (What’s New York City without a few Italian honeybees, eh?). And there are farm-fresh eggs, wool and other farmy goods waiting to be bought at the end of the perusal and nostalgia. All in all, it’s a full afternoon that could parlay into a day if you check out the Farm Museum’s summer programming schedule. There is a lot to see and do—for the kiddies too—throughout the season and into the fall.

So why is a farm in New York City important? We do, after all, have several great farms with rides, attractions, llama-like creatures and fruit smoothies all over Long Island that are great places to take the kids on a Saturday afternoon. All that is true, but where else will you find a slice of agrarian history alive and well in the greatest city in the world? Where else will you and the youngins see the strange juxtaposition of rooster and skyscraper and subway and stalk that blows away Rousseau’s “mind-forged manacles” and opens up the possibility of a better, more-balanced tomorrow?

alan semerdjian

Alan Semerdjian is a writer, musician, English teacher, and occasional visual artist. Besides LI Pulse, his work has appeared in Newsday, Adbusters, Chain, The Lyric Review and numerous other print and online publications, anthologies, and chapbooks. His first full-length book of poetry is In the Architecture of Bone (Genpop Books 2009). You can visit him digitally at and find out about his music at