Posts filed under ‘In the News’
Group Makes Organic Produce Affordable for Uptown Residents
By Leslie Albrecht
UPPER WEST SIDE — Buying organic produce can take a big bite out of your wallet, but one Upper West Side food group is providing farm fresh vegetables on the cheap.
The West Harlem Community Supported Agriculture Group, whose members pay for weekly deliveries of organic vegetables from Windflower Farm in Valley Falls, N.Y., is taking food stamps and subsidizing memberships for low-income families.
By working with the Hunger Action Network of New York State and the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, the West Harlem CSA sets aside 40 percent of its memberships for people who can’t afford the full $495 fee for a weekly produce delivery from June to November. Read the entire story here!
Innovative city programs have increased the number of low-income shoppers getting access to locally grown produce. But technology and upfront costs remain a barrier for many.
By Neil deMause
Sometime in the last year, New York City reached a milestone: More than one-quarter of its adult residents are now receiving food stamps. Thanks in large part to the outreach efforts of the Bloomberg administration–with an added boost from the crappy economy–1.7 million New York City residents are now receiving food stamps (or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, as they’ve been officially known since 2008), up from 800,000 at its low point in the final month of the Giuliani Administration in December 2001. Read the full article here!
“Slumped in his tractor, Ari Kurtz looked out at his fields, where rotting fruit and gnarled plants fringed with dead leaves were all that remained of what should have been a bountiful tomato harvest.”
A highly contagious fungus that destroys tomato plants has quickly spread to nearly every state in the Northeast and the mid-Atlantic, and the weather over the next week may determine whether the outbreak abates or whether tomato crops are ruined, according to federal and state agriculture officials.
Click the link to continue to the NY Times article.
Affordable organic food comes to Harlem
By STEPHON JOHNSON
Amsterdam News Staff
“If it’s going to succeed, it has to be a viewed as a right for people to have great, clean, fresh, local food,” said chef Michael B. Ennes, treasurer of the West Harlem Action Network Against Poverty (WHANAP). “If organic food is a privilege of the wealthy, it’s doomed to fail.”
Last Thursday, the West Harlem CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) hosted a meeting at the Broadway Presbyterian Church to present and discuss the upcoming share program—which will bring affordable organic food from upstate farms to Harlem—with local residents. Members of organizations like the New York City Coalition Against Hunger and the United Way participated in the discussion. The West Harlem CSA is a member-run all-volunteer organization. Members are required to work four hours during the season. This usually means helping out for two shifts at the distribution site (Broadway Presbyterian). One can sign up for full-shares (where you’ll pick up new bags of vegetables every week) or half-shares (every other week). What makes these shares affordable is the sliding pay scale. You’re charged according to your income.
“There are people who are in our program who are on food stamps and they could pay as low as $90 in food stamps,” said Ennes. “This is a very good thing because they get the same access and same share as the person paying $480.”
The food will come from Windflower Farm in Easton, N.Y., a small town near Saratoga Springs that’s about a threehour drive from Manhattan. Ted Blomgren, who runs Windflower with his wife, felt honored to embark on a selfless juncture with like-minded people. “This is real fun for us,” said Blomgren. “We look forward to working here in West Harlem.” Blomgren said that as part of the program, he organizes two weekend trips a year to the farm for a behind-thescenes look at the cultivation of the product. “You start to think more about what you’re eating,” said Blomgren. WHANAP assisted in getting this CSA started along with a few other CSAs that called the church home for a few months. It’s all by design, according to Ennes, who’s also the food services, special products and training director for the non-profit organization Broadway Community. “Roxbury Farm is the most expensive CSA in the state,” he said. “But they meet here, and as rent, they leave a ton of great vegetables for us.We have vegetables coming out from everywhere.”
With those vegetables, Ennes provides low-income citizens in Harlem with a pantry that puts the food in reusable and recyclable bags for them to take home. He understands that the rich can access the food whenever they want, but in order to shift the paradigm, all parties must take part. “That [rich-only accessible food] won’t change the world and that won’t clear up pollution,” said Ennes. “That won’t stop diabetes and the accelerating rates of hypertension among everyone, but particularly people of low income.”
Ennes feels it’s mandatory for people to have access to healthy food. “We’re very big on the idea that people of low income need great fresh vegetables too,” he said. “Nutrition education doesn’t mean much without culinary education. You have to know what to do with it.
“And most important is access. If you don’t have the material, what’s the difference?”said Ennes.
Paula Seefeldt, who co-owns Campos, an Italian restaurant in Morningside Heights, expressed excitement at potentially having access to said material. “I’m so supportive of this,” said Seefeldt. “I’m working with [Manhattan Borough President] Scott Stringer’s office to try and write a food charter for New York City.”
Seefeldt continued, “We’re buying produce from other countries and we have great farmers right down the road. We’re finding ways to get it into the city and available to people at a reasonable cost. I think it’s fantastic.”
With recent politics, local and national, articulating the belief that everyone has to pitch in, Ennes thinks it’s high time that those who are well-off economically realize that they don’t exist in a vacuum.
“For the sustainability of the organic movement, they [the rich] need us as much as we [the poor] need them,” he said.