Posts tagged ‘Just Food’
CSA Stands Strong Post-Irene
Tropical Storm Irene has tested the will of even the sturdiest farmers. In an interview with NPR, Cheryl Rogowski, owner of W. Rogowski Farm in Orange County, N.Y., talks about the considerable storm damage to her 150-acre farm. She lost 80 to 90% of her crops with most of the farm underwater at the time of the interview.
Rogowski’s farm is one of 15 CSA farms supplying New York City that suffered severe damage, said Jacquie Berger, executive director of the advocacy nonprofit Just Food, in the interview.
Irene may have knocked out half the city’s CSA farms (31 farms run CSA programs in the city) for the season, but it did little to diminish support for the concept of CSA (community supported agriculture). The tropical storm put CSA to the ultimate test, as CSA customers — shareholders in farm harvests — bore crop losses along with their farmers. (more…)
New Yorkers showed overwhelming support for two food-related bills at a public hearing convened last month by the New York City Council Governmental Affairs Division. The proposed bills back recommendations in a plan to revamp the city’s food system and make local and regional food more available to New Yorkers. The plan was outlined in an 86-page report, FoodWorks, released by NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn last year.
One of the proposed bills would require city agencies (more…)
A dozen urban growers consider how to sell their vegetables. The benefits go beyond the money they may or may not be entitled to keep, they discover at the “Selling Your Vegetables” workshop at Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s 30th annual Making Brooklyn Bloom conference last week.
Aspiring urban farmers may soon be able to learn the farming skills they need without ever having to leave the city. This month a New York City-based farm school offering instruction in sustainable agriculture will open its doors to its first 20 students. Farm School NYC — the effort of food advocacy group Just Food and an alliance of local horticultural and food justice organizations — will offer a two-year certificate program that covers everything from growing techniques to marketing and community organizing.
“The mission of the school is to provide comprehensive professional training in urban agriculture, while spurring positive local action on issues of food access and social, economic and racial justice,” said Just Food in a press release.
Getting into the school or a class won’t be easy. Just Food received more than 200 applications for the 20 spots available, said Eric Thomann, co-interim director of Farm School NYC. The school, which has 15 slots for certificate students and five for non-certificate students, is open to adults of all educational backgrounds and income levels.
Future urban farmers need not despair. Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn will also introduce an urban farming program in 2011. The college will have a full-fledged farm on its 70-acre Manhattan Beach campus that will be planted by student volunteers this spring. Dr. Stuart Schulman, the Kingsborough professor in charge of the program, expects to have a formal curriculum developed by fall 2011.
Kingsborough students will be able to take farming classes as an elective. And non-matriculated students might get a chance to work on the farm and learn about farming in the future, possibly through a continuing education program.
One school — John Bowne High School in Flushing, Queens — has been educating students about agriculture long before farming became fashionable. The school’s agriculture program dates back to 1917. The John Bowne Aggies — as students of the school are known — work on a four-acre farm that in addition to an orchard and field crops includes a poultry house, animal barn and greenhouse.
Years ago, John Bowne had an adult education program that made it possible for the public to take farming classes, said Steve Perry, assistant principal of the school’s agriculture program. But the program ended.
Any chance the school might bring it back?
“I wish we could,” said Perry, a wistfulness creeping into his voice. “There’s no allotment for it in the budget.”
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.