Posts tagged ‘Christine Quinn’
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…)
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn last week released an 86-page report on ways in which to reform the city’s food system. The 59 proposals presented in the report address every phase of the food system, from agricultural production through post-consumption.
“The proposals focus on combating hunger and obesity to preserving regional farming and local food manufacturing to decreasing waste and energy usage,” says the New York City Council in a press release.
The proposals call for new procurement guidelines encouraging city agencies to purchase food from regional farmers as well as new legislation to reduce the packaging for the food they procure. The report urges the city to invest in food processing facilities and to consider a much bolder vision for the redevelopment of the aging Hunts Point Market in the Bronx, the world’s largest wholesale produce market and “the beating heart of our city’s food system,” said Speaker Quinn in her remarks. As part of this bolder vision, the report endorses a permanent wholesale farmers market, which I blogged about here, and the building of new rail terminals to reduce the number of trucks to Hunts Point each day.
Another notable proposal calls on restaurants to recycle their grease. The grease and oil restaurants produce can be “turned into a biofuel that heats buildings and runs vehicles,” said Speaker Quinn.
In a show of support for local farmers, Speaker Quinn announced a community supported agriculture (CSA) plan for City Hall employees. City Council would also work with the Department for the Aging and the New York City Housing Authority to bring CSAs to senior centers and public housing.
Sometimes people search far and wide for things they can find right at home. Such is the case with Hunts Point Terminal Market in the Bronx, the world’s largest wholesale produce market. Fruits and vegetables arrive there every day by rail, tractor trailer and air cargo from all over the planet. All told, the global food hub sells 3.3 billion pounds of produce each year, generating more than $2 billion in annual revenues.
Yet very little sold by its 50 merchants is procured locally. Only 2 percent, according New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, comes from local farmers.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is on a mission to reverse that. In a report released in February, Stringer proposes increasing the amount of local and regional food by adding a wholesale farmers market to the Hunts Point Terminal Market. This would be a boon for struggling local farms.
The thriving market at Hunts Point consists exclusively of well-established food wholesalers, such as Rubin Brothers and S. Katzman Produce. Unlike other large food terminals in cities such as Paris and Toronto, the Hunts Point Terminal Market does not have a dedicated space for wholesale farmers.
“Despite the close proximity of rural farmland, infrastructure barriers prevent the local supply from meeting the demand for local food in New York City,” notes Stringer in the report.
The creation of a wholesale farmers market would be part of a proposed $450 million renovation of the terminal market being negotiated with the New York City Economic Development Council. Without the renovations, New York City risks losing the market to New Jersey when its lease expires next year.
In 2006, the Bronx Terminal Market, the site for the last remaining wholesale farmers market, was demolished. Some 20 farmers displaced from the Bronx Terminal Market formed a modest wholesale farmers market in a lot adjacent to the New Fulton Fish Market, also in the Bronx. The market operates in an outdoor open parking lot without storage, refrigeration, or processing facilities.
Stringer is pushing for a larger, more modern home for the displaced farmers. He also recommends building small-scale wholesale farmers markets throughout the city and investing in food processing and distribution facilities to give local farmers a shot at selling their produce to grocers, restaurants and other institutional food buyers in the city.
“Officials and advocates working to incorporate local produce into institutional purchase orders frequently lament the lack of processing infrastructure necessary to meet institutional procurement specifications,” the report states.
Remember Abu Talib, the urban gardener I met on my visit to Taqwa Community Garden in the Bronx? He was recently honored at a soiree in New York City for local food fans.
I couldn’t attend the gala because tickets – at $150 a pop – were all sold out, but food writer Jeanne Hodesh provided a great account of the event, which was organized by Just Food, a local food advocacy group.
“We are not just raising food, we are raising people,” Talib is quoted as saying in Hodesh’s article. “It is not right that a handful of people control the whole food industry because he who controls your breadbasket controls your destiny.”
That’s classic Talib – sharp and profound. At least that’s how he struck me when I met him. Talib doesn’t just speak out against what he sees as the injustices of the food system and the control of the food supply by the few. He does something about it. The man walks the talk, teaching people how to grow food in small plots in a community garden.
Also honored at the award ceremony were Ted Blomgren, a CSA farmer and owner of Windflower Farm, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a supporter of initiatives that provide poor New Yorkers with better access to fresh produce. La Familia Verde Garden Coalition – a community gardening group – and the family members of the late McKinley Hightower-Beyah, a committed gardener in whose honor the award was created, were also recognized.
The gala drew some of New York City’s finest chefs who provided all manner of local food delicacies.