Jun 9th, 2010
It's summer. There's produce, plenty of it local. It's coming to supermarkets, restaurants and Greenmarkets throughout New York City. But one place you won't hardly ever find it at is a bodega, those convenient, often round-the-clock shops where you can get toothpaste and telephone cards or tonight's dinner of ramen and chips. Unfortunately, this is the only type of grocery store that exists in increasingly more communities here.
That's why the Healthy Bodegas Initiative was formed in 2005, aimed at increasing access to fresh food and improving the health of all New Yorkers through its bodegas. Targeting the most underserved areas, or healthy "food deserts," the mission has partnered with many bodegas and local organizations, such as the Greenmarket of Grow NYC (previously called CENYC). Check out Kerry Trueman's great interview with the initiative's founder, Donya Williams, on Food Systems NYC. And read below for an interview with Justone Bossert, Director of NYC Operations for Red Jacket Orchards, an upstate, family-operated fruit farm that's joined the cause.
Help Healthy Bodega Initiative & Red Jacket Orchard Bring Local Produce to Bodegas
Oct 13th, 2009
On Friday, as I sat in the converted shipping container outside of Roberta's Pizza that's home to Heritage Radio Network preparing for the first Cheap Date episode with my guests Keith and Rachel, we were interrupted by a series of loud, clanking noises coming from the roof above. "Can they stop farming now?" I think I muttered. But really, it was music to my ears. There is more than a tree growing in Brooklyn, or for that matter, cities all over: a bonafide agricultural movement. And it was happening above our heads on the rooftop garden of Roberta's Pizza that day, as well as at farms, community gardens and backyards throughout the city. Tonight, Roberta's Pizza is holding a celebration of all that, as well as what more can come. You're welcome to come join the party, the dialogue, the movement -- and with your contribution to a new rooftop farm next spring, one of the most delicious feasts I have ever heard of.
Support Urban Farming at Roberta’s Pizza Tonight
Jun 12th, 2009
If April showers bring May flowers, then June showers bring July… peppers! Zucchini! Tomatoes, purple string beans and strawberries! And okay, more flowers, too. And that’s just the beginning of what’s in store as summer harvest time approaches at Stone Barns Center For Food and Agriculture.
I recently heard a local farmer recommend to anyone wanting to volunteer at a farm, “Don’t go in July and August,” – when it’s all nice out and everything’s coming out of the soil like crazy. Go from April to June or so – essentially, now. I can’t say this is exactly why I went to Stone Barns to roll up my sleeves and help plant this week, though. The reason I went was fairly simple: it’s Stone Barns, and I’d never been there before.
A (Rainy) Volunteer Day at Stone Barns
May 27th, 2009
A rustic scarecrow looms before the skyline of Manhattan's midtown skyscrapers. Under its watch lie more than 30 varieties of vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs on a rooftop in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. But its real scarecrows, the overseers of this rooftop farming project, are Ben Flanner and Annie Novak. I asked if they'd had any problems with pest.
"Lately, we've just begun getting some bugs. Both good and bad bugs. But even if they're the bad ones, bugs are a good thing, because it means that they're beginning to recognize that there's an ecosystem here," Novak replied.
The bugs are taking notice, and hopefully the general public soon will, too. Similar in mission to the NY Sunworks Science Barge project, in which the nonprofit forged a viable ecosystem on a raft on the Hudson, Eagle Street Rooftop Farm is further proof that agriculture can thrive in the unlikeliest of places.
A Rooftop Farm for the Future
May 10th, 2009
Imagine walking into the office of an industrial agriculture giant, the kind that produces 99% of the food we eat, and saying, "Hey, I'm really interested in learning more about agriculture. Could you tell me a few things about what you do?" Would someone jump up from behind the counter and say, "Sure, let me show you around. Let me take out valuable time from my day, put you on a haystack as we drive around the premises and I'll tell you all about it -- pick an asparagus stalk if you care!" I think you can tell I'm being facetious, but this exemplifies one of the many stark differences about small farms and farmers: that they're often more than willing to chat with you, answer your questions and help you understand where your food comes from as that one degree of separation. And I was offered an extraordinary case of this friendliness while visiting Sang Lee Farms in Long Island.
A CSA Trip to Sang Lee Farms
Apr 26th, 2009
Not so long ago, I tended to associate Long Island with being stuck in squawking traffic on the LIE and guys in wifebeaters who wouldn't think to eat an apple if the tree plopped one in his hand. True, the eastern trail of New York City never exactly conjured an agrarian idyll, replete with rustic farmstands and coastal pastures producing everything from grass-fed beef to tasty wines. But perhaps that's just the Jersey in me speaking (ironic as it may seem, New Jersey and Long Island kids have a long, stupid rivalry). Because after a trip out to Garden of Eve organic farm in Riverhead, I was introduced to a world of old-school farming values being led for the most part by young and fresh-thinking pioneers.
From Gardening to Farming: A Glimpse at Long Island’s Garden of Eve Farm
Apr 9th, 2009
It was only a matter of time before my love affair with small, sustainable farming would take me outside of New York City (yes, Melissa, I hope to visit Garden of Eve sometime!). No matter the rain, cold or wind we've been having lately. No matter the ice and snow that laced the rocky cliffs of the Catskills on the drive upstate -- and up
some 1,200 feet in elevation. It's spring, at least on paper! And so I went to visit some sheep at Apple Pond Farm.
A Trip to Apple Pond Farm
Mar 25th, 2009
Spring is officially here, and to celebrate the first day of nature's annual renewal, I took a field trip out to a farm. Only I didn't leave the city. At the end of the E and F subway lines and a quick hop eastward on a bus lies the Queens County Farm Museum, the oldest continually farmed tract of land in the city, and now the site of a renewed agricultural program that's growing still. But unlike Stone Barns or similar close-to-urban country idylls, entrance to this farm is free.
A Day at Queens County Farm Museum