For Immediate Release: Smiling HogsHead Ranch Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Smiling Hogshead Ranch

The Ranch Celebrates Their New Agreement with the MTA


What: The Smiling Hogshead Ranch celebrated the execution of their Garden License Agreement (GLA) with the property owner (the MTA/LIRR). Over 100 guests participated in witness as this alternative cooperation the Ranch organizers have cultivated with property owner over the past 3-½ years was legitimized by the MTA. This is a new era for the Ranch but also for the urban agriculture movement in NY.  

The crowd began gathering in earnest when over forty cyclist ended the Five Boro Bike Tour’s NYC Urban Farm Ride. Awaiting the tired and thirsty riders was homegrown concord grape soda; an assortment of mini-quiches, peach cobbler and fresh salsa lovingly prepared by Ranch members from food grown right at the Ranch and assorted dips donated by the Regal Vegan. The Ranch’s grillmaster John kept a steady flow burgers, sausage, corn and veggie kabobs coming off the grill. Acoustic music and lively conversation filled the air as more guests convened. Vegan empanadas donated by V-Spot Restaurant arrived and Singlecut Beersmith brews began flowing. Things were developing nicely as the sky opened and the steadfast group waited out the quick downpour, many, especially the hot cyclists, actually welcomed it.

Over 100 supporters of of the Ranch, including Astoria mommies, bike enthusiasts, local artists, other LIC urban farmers, and many other friends of the Ranch mingled as they mosied down from the shady food table to the corner of the Ranch on Skillman Ave. and Pearson Place where the ceremony would take place. Ranch Board Member Colin Samuel addressed the crowd and introduced Paula Segal, Director of 596 Acres. She spoke about the relevance and weight of official agreements like our Garden License Agreement and how community groups all over the city are achieving permission to take over abandoned lots for community control.

Colin then introduced the rest of the Board of Directors who each briefly introduced themselves. The the organizations President, Gil Lopez took the stage and offered a brief history of the Ranch and some words of inspiration. Gil made several relevant and moving points before inviting all the founding and current members back on stage to help in cutting the ceremonial ribbon, which he noted “symbolizes all the red tape, piles of legal paperwork, financial hurdles and naysayers they have had to get past over the last 3-½ years leading up to this momentous occasion.”

The ribbon was cut with much fanfare and the celebration continued, song and conversation resumed, Beyond Brewing Company took over the taps and more food continued to come off the grill. Everyone seemed to enjoy the vibe and left fat and happy.

For more info about Smiling Hogshead Ranch and how to get involved visit their website at, look at the events and visit in person or email

Where:        Smiling Hogshead Ranch

25-30 Skillman Avenue

Long Island City, NY 11101

When:                Saturday, September 6, 2014

3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Background:        Smiling Hogshead Ranch was created in early Spring 2011 by a dozen community spirited friends and organizer. Since then, we have worked hundreds of hours cultivating the land, building The Ranch’s infrastructure and maintaining it all. We have hosted dozens of workshops and skillshares, offered tours to school groups and green infrastructure professionals and been a place of calm in the center of the city where our neighbors can reconnect with nature and one another.


Media Inquiries and Contact:        Members of the media please contact 347.509.4464,  Gil Lopez 407.432.8156 or Mia Vlah 216.338.3300 with any questions or requests or email: 

For additional questions about the MTA’s role, contact the MTA Press Office (212) 878-7440


About Smiling Hogshead Ranch

Smiling Hogshead Ranch ( is a volunteer led urban farm in Long Island City, Queens, NYC. We are committed to demonstrating and promoting systems that encourage food and environmental justice. At The Ranch, we grow garden a variety of herbs and vegetables as well as fruiting and nut trees, shrubs and vines. We also demonstrate a form of bioremediation using mushroom mycelium. We build the Ranch’s infrastructure with mostly found and refurbished materials. Our guerrilla garden beginnings are rooted in an alternative cooperation form of direct action, as such we support the reclaiming of the commons and full transition to a more equitable society, starting exactly where we are.

Founding Members: Shirley Chai, Jen Kline, Stephanos Koullias, Justin Lau, Alan Lewandowski, Gil Lopez, James Nowakowski, Peter Richter, Leanne Spaulding, Becky Thorp & Mia Vlah

Board of Directors:

Gil Lopez, President; Mia Vlah, Secretary; Colin Anton Samuel, Treasurer; Geoffrey Brock, Operations Co-Director; Jenelle Malbrough, Operations Co-Director; Kelsey Ripper, Governance Officer; Justin Lau

Current Members: Rose Moon & Chris McHale, Andrew & Tricia Graham, Gordon Douglas, Jennifer Plewka, Kevin Slesenski, Shirley Chai, Peter Ives, Christopher Nacinovich, Dee Dee Maucher and the previously mentioned board members.

Get Involved with The Ranch:

Volunteers are always welcome, please visit our events page for upcoming opporunities:

We are actively recruiting new active and supporting members as well. Supporting members can make a donation by sending a check to 25-30 Skillman Avenue. LIC, NY 11101.  To become an active member, begin by participating in at least two events at The Ranch and expressing interest, a $35 annual donation and minimum of 6 hours of work per month at The Ranch, see our calendar above or email us for opportunities to get involved. Garden and construction experience is great but NOT necessary. We are in need of planting, compost, construction, education and outreach committee members.



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