John Street Pasture: A clover field grows in DUMBO, Brooklyn

Hugged by construction, a 6,000-square-foot field with blooming crimson clovers has appeared on the Brooklyn waterfront, down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass.

The John Street Pasture, a temporary “living earthwork” opening in DUMBO this Saturday, is a celebration of the transitional nature of urban land on a former parking lot and future condominium.

“People will interpret it in many different ways. The most important thing is for them to enjoy it,” said artist and farmer Andrea Reynosa.

In some ways, the pasture is a preview for a new section of Brooklyn Bridge Park expected to complete next year. Bordered by the park’s construction, the John Street Pasture offers views of the Manhattan skyline from a site formerly owned by Con Edison.

“The pasture really symbolizes the reclamation of this site for public access to the waterfront,” said Regina Myer, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park. “This is the first time people can walk on this site and enjoy the views of the Manhattan skyline in a location that, frankly, no one had access to before.”

john street pasture brooklyn DUMBO
The John Street Pasture will be open through mid-summer in DUMBO, Brooklyn.
Credit: Bess Adler/Metro

Reynosa has looked out at asphalt and weeds on the site from her DUMBO loft since moving in 20 years ago. Last fall, Reynosa proposed a pop-up art installation to the site’s developer, Alloy, and the Brooklyn Bridge Park.  

The resulting pasture is a collaboration with Alloy, the park, farmers at the Brooklyn Grange and DUMBO gallery Smack Mellon.

The gallery will facilitate public access to the pasture during FOODshed: Agriculture and Art in Action, an exhibition of New York artists who work with food and agriculture.

Smack Mellon’s executive director Kathleen Gilrain explained that the exhibition pieces, including the pasture, promote sustainable agriculture.

For the pasture, the difference between the lush green pasture and the surrounding park construction adds another element.

“It’s a stark contrast,” Gilrain said.

john street pasture brooklyn DUMBO
Artist and farmer Andrea Reynosa touches clover in the John Street Pasture.
Credit: Bess Adler/Metro

Donated by Brooklyn Bridge Park, the soil will be improved by the crimson clover, sometimes used as an agricultural cover crop when a field is unplanted.

“It’s more of a traditional way to improve the soil,” Reynosa said.

Mid-summer — exactly when depends on the weather — the pasture will be dismantled. The collaborators are exploring natural options to remove the clover and reuse the enriched soil for the park’s construction.

Reynosa is hoping to employ pygmy goats to graze down the clovers.

“The park will be built quickly after that,” she said.

Luxury apartments will also be built. The development, Myer said, will help the park’s financial footing and future maintenance.

1 john street pasture alloy Monadnock DUMBO brooklyn
A luxury residential building, along with a new part of the Brooklyn Bridge Park, will be built on the site of the temporary John Street Pasture.
Credit: Alloy/Monadnock

Though the 12-story building will soon grow from the site of her pasture, Reynosa said the park will be a boon to New Yorkers.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” she said.

Visit the John Street Pasture

Starting Saturday, the John Street Pasture is open until mid-summer at 1 John St. in Brooklyn, from 12 to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter @AnnaESanders


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