15 minutes with CSA member: Claire Agre

Meet Claire Agre, a Baltimore native and landscape architect with the Dutch firm West 8. Right now, the green thumb is lucky enough to be working on one of the most exciting projects in New York: designing the new park on Governors Island — home of Added Value’s second farm.

Claire landed in Red Hook about two years ago via Boston, Milan and Chapel Hill, N.C.  You might know her by her huge Great Dane, Mimi,  whom she walks around the neighborhood.

She chats with the Collard Courier about her passion for food:

What was the food culture in your family growing up?
My mom is a farm girl from the South, so we grew up eating loads of
fresh veggies, chicken, lamb, etc.  “Italian” was considered foreign
food.

Mom has cooked a complete and well-rounded meal every night for
my family for the past 30 years without ever getting in a cooking rut. That’s pretty admirable if you ask me.

What’s your favorite vegetable?
Broccoli

One food you won’t you eat?
I’m ashamed to say that I’m not wild about eggplant.

What do you value about food or eating?
Hmmm…everything?  I love seasonality.

Favorite food experience?
A homemade feast in Sicily.  Second to that is eating the ripe cherry tomatoes on my porch every morning.

Favorite food book or memoir:
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. Although it’s not explicitly a “food book,” it is a really interesting look at farming, cultivation of land and our relationship to our landscape.

Most disastrous kitchen or garden experiment:
I’ve tried to make Indian a few times. It never turns out.

Why are you involved in CSAs?
I love the entire Added Value mission. And I like the surprise of never knowing what I will learn to cook each week.

What inspires you?
Wild places in the city.

Your opinion: Does talking to plants help them grow?
Definitely!

Do you sing to them?
No one needs to hear me sing.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

My hairdresser told me to take care of myself because no one else will.  Hairdressers know.

Tell us one thing about yourself that would surprise people:

I’ve encountered polar bears in the wild a few times.  That is some scary stuff.

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