Initial $5 Million in Funding for Farms Damaged by Tropical Storm Irene

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine yesterday released the first installment in state funding for farms damaged by Tropical Storm Irene.  The initial allocation of $5 million will provide funding for farmers to restore damaged farmland and prevent further damage in the future. It is part of the conservation component of the $15 million Agricultural and Community Recovery Fund. (more…)

September 9, 2011 at 3:37 pm Leave a comment

BrightFarms to Build Nation’s Largest Rooftop Greenhouse in Long Island City

BrightFarms, a Manhattan-based company that designs, builds and operates hydroponic rooftop greenhouses for others, is planning to build one for itself.  The company will build a 25,000-square-foot greenhouse on top of a building near LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, according to an article in the New York Daily News. The facility — slated for completion by March of next year — is expected to produce 200,000 pounds of fresh produce annually for the local markets.  If built as planned, the hydroponic greenhouse will be the largest in the country.

In an interview with New York Bounty in July, BrightFarms discussed its plans for marketing rooftop greenhouses to supermarkets.  The company was in talks with a dozen national supermarket chains, eight of which had signed up for the facilities.

BrightFarms will move its headquarters to the Long Island City rooftop location.  It will build a 7,000-square-foot office space on the 32,000-square-foot roof it plans to lease.

September 6, 2011 at 4:22 pm Leave a comment

LOCAL FOOD News Roundup

It’s a Match:  B&Bs and Local Food Producers

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets received a $74,000 grant to link local food producers with bed-and-breakfast operators throughout the state.  The State Agriculture Department — in cooperation with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County and a host of farming and food producer groups — will use the funds to organize regional opportunities for B&B owners to meet local producers and sample their products. (more…)

August 30, 2011 at 3:08 pm Leave a comment

NYC Start-up Brings Hydroponics to the People

© Photo by Margarida Correia. See caption at bottom of article.

In the vast expanse of barren rooftops that mark this north Brooklyn neighborhood, one stood out far above the rest:  the one atop Bushwick Starr Theatre.  It was the only roof with plants — all happily soil-free, or “hydroponic.”

Rather than soil-filled terracotta pots, the plants grew in trays and tubs attached to tubes that piped in liquid nutrients. Most grew vertically, like the tomatoes and cucumbers climbing the roof fence and onto a trellis.  Others — the bok choy and collard greens, for instance — grew sideways from the side of a wall built from milk crates.

The plants – green and laden with vegetables – seemed at home in the Willie Wonkaesque environment.  Miniature melon-shaped “Mexican sour” cucumbers dangled from plant stems like earrings.  Peppers lounged under the shade of floppy leaves, while the herbs — basil, thyme, sage, parsley — basked in the sun.

The rooftop Eden functions as a lab for Lee Mandell, founder of Boswyck Farms, a start-up business that designs and builds hydroponic growing systems for residents, nonprofits and other small organizations in New York City.  Mandell tests and tinkers with the systems on the roof — as well as those in his loft apartment nearby — to see which ones work best for which plants. (more…)

August 29, 2011 at 2:27 pm Leave a comment

LOCAL FOOD News Roundup

Farmers Markets Grow Despite Bad Economy

If only the economy would grow as rapidly as the nation’s farmers markets.   The number of farmers markets operating throughout the country grew 17%, from 6,132 in 2010 to 7,175 this year.  The results were released in the USDA’s 2011 National Farmers Market Directory.

New York reported 520 markets, ranking second among the nation’s top 10 states with the most farmers markets.  California, with 729 markets, ranked first.

The market listings were submitted to the USDA by market managers on a voluntary, self-reported basis between April 18 and June 24, 2011, as part of the USDA’s annual outreach effort.

Alaska experienced the most growth.  It reported 35 farmers markets, up 46%.  Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico, with 166, 130, and 80 markets, respectively, jumped 38%.

Mayor Bloomberg Signs Local Food Legislation

For the past two years the New York City Council has pushed to make more local food available to New Yorkers.  On Wednesday its efforts paid off:  Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed comprehensive legislation aimed at increasing the production and procurement of local and regional food. (more…)

August 19, 2011 at 2:54 pm Leave a comment

Farmers Markets Launched Statewide as Part of New Farm Initiative

Life is starting to look a little brighter for New York State’s family farmers. Gov.  Andrew Cuomo last week announced a program to launch new farmers markets and expand others across the state.  The new Fresh Connect Farmers’ Markets is part of Gov. Cuomo’s “Farm New York” initiative to invest in the state’s agriculture industry. (more…)

August 16, 2011 at 4:01 pm Leave a comment

The Rise of the Portable Farm

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© Photos by Margarida Correia. See captions at bottom of article.

Manhattan is not the world’s best place for a restaurant to build a farm.  But Riverpark Restaurant, a new restaurant in Midtown Manhattan, did just that — thanks to an open-minded, eco-conscious landlord and some out-of-the-box thinking.

The 15,000-square-foot farm — located 100 feet from the restaurant at Alexandria Center for Life Science, a new but unfinished biotechnology complex on 29th Street between 1st Avenue and the FDR Drive — is not your typical farm.  It’s portable.  The hundred different crops that grow there — everything from arugula and collard greens to eggplant, zucchini and squash — are raised in thousands of double-stacked milk crates. (more…)

August 13, 2011 at 6:48 pm 1 comment

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