Here’s a sure sign of spring. The Hester Street Fair is getting ready for a new season on the Lower East Side. The food, crafts and vintage market returns to Essex and Hester streets Saturday, April 27. It’s a little hard to believe HSF is beginning its fourth year. We’ll have more on opening day in the next couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, time is running up to sign up for your local CSA. The food cooperatives (Community Supported Agriculture) pay a regional farm to provide fresh produce and other items on a weekly basis throughout the summer. The Grand Street CSA has a final May 1 deadline. Click here for more information.
After this weekend’s snow storm, spring might seem like it’s far away, but the Grand Street CSA is already thinking about the warmer months. “CSA” stands for community supported agriculture. Members pay in advance for weekly distributions of fresh produce, eggs, pasta, etc., and in so doing, help a regional farm become more sustainable. Tomorrow night, the Grand Street organization will be holding a meeting for both current members and anyone who’s thinking about joining.
There will be an opportunity to meet a new farmer, Zaid Kurdieh of Norwich Meadows Farm (located in upstate NY and in NJ). The CSA was forced to make a switch after the previous farmers decided it was too time-consuming to make the trip to the city. There’s also a new farm providing fruit shares this year, Red Jacket Orchards of Geneva, New York. Vegetable shares cost $320; fruit shares are $240 (both for 22 weeks beginning in June).
Tomorrow night’s meeting takes place at 8:45 p.m. in the Seward Park Community Room, 264 East Broadway. Click here for more information. Anyone is welcome to attend.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), in which a group purchases fresh produce from a nearby farm, is a concept that has really taken off in recent years. But last year was a rough one for two of the Lower East Side’s CSA’s. Now there are some changes in both organizations we wanted to pass along.
First of all, Kerry and Max Taylor (pictured) are the new farmers working with the Grand Street CSA. Recently they came to the city from their farm in Salem, Connecticut to discuss plans for the upcoming year and to address concerns about the quantity of produce CSA members received in the past year or two.
Max and Kerry said they are increasing the amount of land being farmed from four to 11 acres. In their view, the previous farmers (who decided to call it quits due to financial pressures) were not planting enough crops to support the CSA. They’re also changing farming methods, introducing new nutrients into the soil. Given the increased quantity of produce expected, they’re confident more residents can be accommodated in 2012.
Restaurant and bar news in advance of the weekend:
We’re still in the dead of winter but it’s never too early to start thinking about spring. Jeremy Sherber of the Grand Street CSA let us know they’ve just opened up 2011 registration to the general public. If you’d like to know more about Community Supported Agriculture and about the options (vegetables, fruit, eggs, cheese, etc) available, head on over to the Grand Street CSA’s web site. But if you’re interested, it’s best to hurry (there are only a few available slots).
They’re the culinary buzz words of 2009: fresh, local, sustainable. Super star chef Alice Waters has made it her personal crusade. First Lady Michelle Obama did her part — setting up a garden at the White House to grow 55 varieties of fruits and vegetables. Thanks to a group known as “Just Food,” what’s known as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is taking off in New York.
Last night, one of Just Food’s affiliates, the Grand Street CSA, kicked off its second season. They’re sold out for this summer, prepared to distribute produce straight from the Woodbridge Farm in Connecticut every Tuesday night through the first week of November.
Here’s how it works. Just Food connects farms within striking distance of New York City with community groups interested in providing their neighborhoods with fresh, organically grown food. During the winter, each farmer sells shares in that year’s harvest to members of the CSA. That gives the farms the money they need to grow and harvest their crops, not to mention providing the farmers with a living wage. In the case of the Grand Street CSA, a full share costs $590 for the season or just under $26 per week.
Grand Street CSA organizer Meghan Joye told us all 85 shares sold out before the season even began, but they do have a waiting list for next year. In Manhattan alone, there are about 35 CSA’s. Others in the area include the Bluestocking CSA on Allen Street, the Stanton Street CSA in Sara D. Roosevelt Park and the Sixth Street CSA. You can see a full list of New York City locations on Just Food’s web site.
The farms deliver whatever crops are ready to harvest. Yesterday, there was a variety of lettuces, radishes, kale, collard greens, bok choy, mint and dill. Joye said, as the summer progresses, the selection will become much more diverse.
Part of the fun is figuring out what to do with ingredients you might not have selected in the grocery store. The CSA plans to have a nutritionist on hand in the weeks ahead to offer advice to members.
In New York City, access to fresh food varies greatly by neighborhood. A study conducted by the city last year found that around three million New Yorkers, mostly in the Bronx, Queens and central Brooklyn, are under served by grocery stores offering fresh food. The Bloomberg administration has proposed a program of zoning changes and financial incentives to entice grocery stores to open where they’re needed the most.
Many of the residents on the Lower East Side would argue, they too, don’t have access to farm fresh fruits and vegetables. There is Whole Foods on the Bowery — so expensive it is out of reach for many families in the neighborhood.
Joye says there are four half shares available in the Grand Street CSA to low income families. A half share costs $340. They donate any food that’s not taken by the end of the evening to the food pantry run by Our Lady of Sorrows Church.
For more information, check out the Grand Street CSA’s web site.
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