Humans 1, Concrete Slab 0

March 22, 2011

Author: Neighborhood Farm Initiative

Category: General News

The land at NFI’s Fort Totten site is full of interesting old stuff: rusty pipes, sprinklers of gardeners past, aluminum cans, and more. In a couple of places, we have found largish concrete slabs, which we would prefer to remove. We have never been successful at this before, but this past Saturday was our first victory!

A week and a half ago, while digging drainage ditches for one of the raised beds, Alex and others discovered a fairly large slab of concrete. It was about 10 inches thick, 5 feet long and 3 feet wide. It was perfectly placed to prevent digging the drainage ditch, and also extended into the beds on both sides of the ditch.

On hearing of this slab, and the desire to remove it, the destructive impulses of some of our team were excited. This past week, we bought a sledgehammer, two masonry chisels, and also borrowed a hand mallet. This past Saturday morning, one of us (Neil) worked for about an hour with the hand mallet and the chisels, and succeeded in breaking off some small pieces but not making progress on the main piece.

When Alex showed up, he was excited to see work proceeding on the slab, because he had spent all of the last Saturday trying to excavate it. Within about 10 minutes of his arrival, we were very excited when we succeeded in splitting the block in half. We were able to make such rapid progress because, with two people there, it was possible for one person to hold the chisel and the other person to use the sledgehammer — sometimes, brute force is the solution.

At this point, the pieces were small enough that we were able to carry them out by hand and stack them at the edge of the field. We ended up making a small cairn (see photograph) from the pieces — we hope this serves as a type of “scareslab”, so that in the future concrete slabs decide not to use our fields.

It was very very satisfying to be able to remove this slab. Working with NFI provides some great opportunities!

Congrats to Neil Z. on his victory against the rock and many thanks for this blog post!

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