local agriculture

Real Farm Bill Stories: Greenmarket, GrowNYC

by Cheryl Huber
October 3, 2011

Greenmarket, a program of GrowNYC, was founded in 1976 with a two-fold mission, to promote regional agriculture by providing small family farms the opportunity to sell their locally grown products directly to consumers and to ensure that all New York City residents have access to the freshest, most nutritious, locally grown food the region has to offer.

What began over three decades ago with 12 farmers in a parking lot on 59th Street and 2nd Avenue in Manhattan has now grown to become the largest and most diverse outdoor urban farmers market network in the country, now with more than 50 markets, over 230 family farms and fishers participating, and over 30,000 acres of farmland protected from development.

Greenmarket received a grant through the USDA/AMS Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) in 2009, enabling the expansion of its food access work. Through the grant funding, Greenmarket made healthy, locally-grown food more accessible and affordable to lower-income neighborhoods by increasing the number of farmers’ markets who accept SNAP (Food Stamps) Electronic Benefit Transfers (EBT) and by assuming operations of the Wholesale Farmers Market (WFM), located in the New Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx.  The funding available through FMPP was critical in reaching these goals.

Q & A with Timothy Haws, farmer at Autumn's Harvest Farms

by Meret Hofer
September 5, 2011

The small-scale family-run Autumn's Harvest Farm, located in Romulus, NY in the Finger Lakes Region, is providing 80 pigs for the sizzling summer cook-out Pig Island II, which will take place on Governors Island this Saturday, September 10. Food Systems Network NYC interviewed farmer Timothy Haws to find out what he is looking forward to most about the event and what it's like to raise animals for a growing population of food-conscious consumers and chefs.

Q: What is most exciting to you about providing your meats as the starring feature of Pig's Island?
A: We are very happy knowing that our pigs will be going to see NYC before we will. In all seriousness, we are excited knowing that so many people are going to be experiencing a product that is good for the the environment and is coming from a truly sustainable farm. It's also a great reflection on consumers on becoming more aware of just where their food is coming from.

Q: How has New York City's ongoing obsession with pork and all things pig effected your business? Have you seen a boom in pork sales in recent years?
A: We have seen a big increase in pork sales. We have seen more and more people coming to our farm from NYC, taking tours and stocking up for their trip home. Raising animals is our passion and we love to share that with people.
Q: Pig Island is a celebration of New York's chefs, farmers, brewers and vintners. What kind of difference does it make to you to know where your food is going?
A: Knowing that our pigs are going to an event that supports so many local farms, restaurants and businesses is extremely important. We are truly thankful to everyone involved in bringing us to Pig Island.

Challenge Yourself to be a Locavore this September

Food Systems Network NYC is proud to be a participating partner in NOFA-NY’s 2nd Annual NY Locavore Challenge, a month-long campaign that aims to encourage consumption of local food and support of regional agriculture. The NY Locavore Challenge encourages participants to take action in three interactive categories: Grow, Cook, and Eat; Join the Movement; and Take Action. Each activity category consists of a broad range of fun mini-challenges and, depending on various levels of individual or communal commitment, can include cooking a local meal for yourself or organizing a potluck with friends, joining a CSA, growing an herb garden, composting your kitchen scraps, foraging, blogging, hosting a book discussion, volunteering at a community garden, and talking to your representatives, among many other great ideas for getting involved in the movement. You can also host an event during the month to promote local agriculture and healthy eating. And best of all, registration and education materials are all free! So dare yourself to try out a 250 Food Mile Diet for a day, a week, or all of September, and encourage your friends to get involved, because who doesn’t love a challenge?

Read more about the challenge here.
Registration is available online or by downloading and mailing this form to NOFA-NY.
Share this postcard with your friends, colleagues, and your community and see how many people you can encourage to join.

And if you choose to blog about your locavore experience, we will welcome you as a guest blogger on the FSNYC Food Blog.

Hydraulic Fracturing and Agriculture, Starting the Conversation

by Krystal Ford
May 2, 2011
*Any opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not constitute the opinions of the Food Systems Network NYC.

On Monday, May 2, residents from across New York State gathered in Albany to rally for a statewide ban on fracking. Students, farmers, leaders and activists organized lobby visits and petitioned in the state capitol to demonstrate to legislators the need for a permanent ban on hydraulic fracturing in the region. New Yorkers have been battling horizontal hydraulic fracturing, a resource-intense method of deriving natural gas from the ground, in the Marcellus Shale for the past several years, and with the state moratorium set to expire on July 1, residents are getting worried.

Most of the conversation around hydraulic fracturing revolves around contaminated water, rightly so, but there are other equally important concerns that need to be discussed. Natural gas drilling puts our agricultural land and food at risk. All forms of agriculture, from growing crops to raising livestock, depend on clean water.Farmland in NYS

Gas drilling will be taking place mainly in rural communities because of the amount of land required for each gas well. Farmers are prime targets for natural gas companies. They have land and for many farmers, especially New York dairy farmers, life is constant struggle to survive. Leasing a small parcel of land can be very tempting.

Open Networking Meeting: Tuesday, May 10

Fracking and Farm Viability in the NYC Regional Foodshed

The Open Networking Meeting on Tuesday, May 10, will be a focused conversation on the latest developments and concerns about the impact of hydraulic fracturing on agriculture. We will discuss the relevance of this issue to both New York City and rural markets. An update on proposed fracking related infrastructure, actions, and legislation will be provided. This meeting will act in part as a preview of the May 16th, Water Fight! Fracking, Food, Art & Economy conference organized by Baum Forum and Parsons The New School.  Presenters will include Greg Schwartz, Willow Wisp Organic Farm, Damascus; Mark Izeman, Senior Attorney and Director of the New York Urban Program, NRDC; and Krystal Ford, NYU Food Studies Student and Slow Food NYC Board of Directors.

Date: May 10, 2011

Time: 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Location: Fund for the City of New York, Main Conference Room
121 Avenue of the Americas, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10013-1590

The Fund is located on the west side of Avenue of the Americas (6th Avenue) between Broome Street and Watts Street. For more information, contact vsyrov@foodsystemsnyc.org

Suggested donation: $5 for non-members, though no one will be turned away for lack of funds. Avoid the fee by joining now! Visit: http://foodsystemsnyc.org/joinnow


Read about this meeting on Treehugger.com

Q&A with Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez of Farmhearts

by Kerry Trueman
May 2, 2011

Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez is the executive pastry chef at Print, a heavenly Hell's Kitchen restaurant whose menu features locally sourced, freshly foraged ingredients. Her sweet resumé includes some of New York City's finest restaurants, including Mondrian, Union Square Cafe, L’Impero, Veritas and Judson Grill.

Carlucci-Rodriguez also drew raves when she showcased her savory side at the late, lamented Lassi on Greenwich Ave. Lassi's fresh take on Indian take-out brought a wide following to what may be the skinniest storefront in the West Village, earning it the title Best Take-Out from New York Magazine in 2006.Farmhearts

When she's not baking up a storm at Print, Carlucci-Rodriguez is helping to spread the word about the threat that hydrofracking poses to our region through a new organization called Farmhearts. Carlucci-Rodriguez kindly took time out from her dessert duties to tell me more about Farmhearts' history and mission via email:

Mapping the NYC Regional Food System

by Viktoriya Syrov, Food Systems Network NYC
January 5, 2011

When Michael Conard, Assistant Director of the Urban Design Lab at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, was first asked to consider the rising problem of childhood obesity in 2007, his team of urban designers and architects realized that what was being called for was a wholly new approach. Working with the MIT Collaborative Initiatives, the team embarked on a journey across the United States, funded by a grant from the United Health Foundation, to learn more about the disease and find a viable new solution.

What they came up with would not surprise many of us; the problem lay on the intake side of the energy equation, and much of it had to do with lack of access to healthy food. Through examinations of rural food deserts around the country, it was determined that in order to address the issue of access it would be necessary to develop an integrated regional food system. The second phase of the project “refined the concept of a comprehensive food system” and encouraged collaboration between industry leaders to come up with models for a new national food infrastructure.

“A more resilient, a more sustainable, and healthy system is an integrated regional system,” said Conard. “By building on the good efforts happening locally and regionally and further giving infrastructure to support them, by giving data and supporting funding, we can create a network of regional systems which will provide outcomes and further economic development.”

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