A Plot of Dirt
Prospect Ave. nr. Vanderbilt St. firstname.lastname@example.org
With the added muscle of a hundred amateur farmers, Tom Angotti turned the one-eighth-acre lot beside his Windsor Terrace house into a communal farm. Last spring, he posted a notice on his neighborhood listserv offering would-be growers the chance to harvest their own tomatoes and peppers. Within a few weeks, workers had cleared the overgrown site (save for the blackberry bushes), terraced the uneven ground, and built a massive compost bin. Angotti considers the operation a “modified CSA” with members contributing a $25 donation to care for one or more of the 2½-by-2-foot plots.
Pier 59 at Chelsea Piers, West Side Hwy. at 17th St.; 212-336-7841
Like a time-share for watercraft, the Chelsea Piers branch of this boating chain offers fractional ownership of sailboats and powerboats for up to six people. At the starting rate of $5,000, boaters get the same vessel seven times a month from April through October, with time slots running from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. or 6 p.m. to 10 a.m. Most cruise around New York Harbor or to Long Island Sound, but you can reserve back-to-back time slots for more-ambitious trips—say, out to Montauk and back.
Ice Cream Club
When Jonathan Soma’s roommate gave him an ice-cream maker, he experimented with everything from bacon to Thai chocolate before realizing he had a problem: too much ice cream and not enough people to eat it. So with $486 in start-up capital raised on Kickstarter, Soma founded the Ice Cream Club. A $5 “social” membership allows you to bring and swap pints. A “buying” membership ($27) lets you pick up a pint on the second Saturday of the month during the summer.
155 Water St., nr. Anchorage Pl., Dumbo, and 68 Jay St., at Water St., Dumbo 718-210-3650
This green rent-a-space center provides all the best parts of a workplace (fast wi-fi, bottomless coffee, a general sense that you’re not alone) minus any Michael Scotts. Both Green Desk locales teem with creative types—writers, designers, TV producers—encouraging impromptu networking and brainstorming. Space starts at $199 for a single lockable desk and goes up to $2,400 for a large office.
Create a network of free, unlimited child care by joining with neighborhood families to exchange hours of babysitting. Every hour that you babysit entitles you to an hour of sitting time yourself. The concept of swapping babysitting services is not new, but the advent of websites like this one, which helps keep track of requests and hours, and others that provide advice on rules and bylaws (achildgrowsinbrooklyn.com), has made it far easier to manage.
Every week, 288 members share in shipments of pork from the Piggery farm in Schuyler County, where heritage-breed pigs graze on 70 acres of barley, field peas, and walnut trees. Husband-and-wife owners Heather Sanford and Brad Marshall pack cardboard boxes with fresh cuts—pork chops, tenderloin, cheek medallions. “We have a complex data system so cuts are evenly distributed,” says Heather. “No one wants ham hocks every week.” Members receive a quarter- ($300), half- ($600), or whole-hog share ($1,200) and pick up their boxes at Jimmy’s No. 43 in the East Village, Bierkraft in Park Slope, or DBA in Williamsburg.
156 Rivington St., nr. Suffolk St., and 99 S. 6th St., nr. Bedford Ave., Williamsburg
Several nights a week, the biking-advocacy group Time’s Up! opens the doors to its grease-smeared workshops for gearheads and the bike-illiterate to help each other mend bent tire rims, shrieking brakes, and grinding gears. A trove of tools and a team of volunteer mechanics are at your disposal, though the experts won’t actually do the dirty work—they subscribe to the “teach a man to fish” school, encouraging a long-term commitment to bike maintenance. In Manhattan, Tuesdays and Thursdays 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; in Brooklyn, Mondays and Wednesdays 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Sundays 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
55 Washington St., nr. Front St., Ste. 512, Dumbo
A paradise for crafters, Etsy’s Open Craft Night on the last Monday of the month lets anyone stop by the company’s Dumbo headquarters to mooch from the communal fabric and yarn bins, use sewing machines, and bond with other DIYers. Projects range in size and ambition, from knitting and embroidery to jewelry-making and bookbinding. No registration needed; just show up with your creativity between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and get to work.
A Private Chef
The Sushi Club
Like many caterers, Sushi Club chef Rico Lui prepares eight-course meals for a minimum of six-to-eight people in the comfort of his customer’s own home. But instead of a single host handling the check, each guest can pay the sushi master individually by cash, check, or credit card, turning the service into a mobile restaurant of sorts. Prices for these 2½-hour Japanese feasts usually start at $108 per person but are being discounted to $78 per person through August 31.