The Big Salad

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If you’re like me, your composting experience makes you proud, but you don’t know much about it: You save up your cantaloupe rinds and carrot greens all week and toss em in the bin at the farm. Then something happens and something else happens and then it’s good and you are a good person.

Turns out, there’s more to it.  I mean, you’re a good person and all, me too, but we could stand to know more about how and why. You could always learn a lot here:  http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwasteless/html/compost/science.shtml

Or you could just make a salad.

Once every month or so, NYC Greenmarkets stops by the Farm on a Sunday morning to drop off 3 to 4 tons of household organic material collected at the previous day’s Greenmarkets all over the city.  It all gets mixed up with leaves and wood chips, shovel and pitchfork style, like an enormous disgusting salad. Just like when you and I drop off our cantaloupe and mix it in the bin, but on a massive, super heavy, super wet, splattertastic level.  Dumpster juice is literally running out of the bed of the truck when it pulls up.

I was there last Sunday with a team of a dozen or so other volunteers when that leaky truck came around. Working together under the direction of EcoScientist/Compost MasterChef David Buckel, we worked hard, had a lot of laughs, and learned a lot. We learned about layering the nitrogen-based material (cantaloupe etc) with carbon-based material (leaves and wood chips etc), to jumpstart the chemical processes involved in decomposition. We learned about mixing up all that layered stuff for maximum contact of all the different kinds of material, for an accelerated but uniform rate of decomposition.  We learned about windrows while we made one (they’re the giant, peaked piles of earth lined up on the west end of the farm, and they’re each at a different phase of their decomposition, a process that takes around 4 months and a lot of work). Ours was 37 feet long, containing 20 cubic yards of compost.

That’s a LOT – but it’s just a fraction of what’s made out of the 160 tons of organic waste captured and converted by David and the compost program at the Farm, diverted from the landfill and creating a high quality soil amendment to help the Farm grow more healthful food.

(full disclosure: David wrote that last sentence because he is much, much smarter than me)

My personal highlight: about an hour into our unpacking of the truck, we opened a bag that turned out to be someone’s recycling (must’ve brought the wrong bag to the Greenmarket!). The entire work crew – up to our knees in decomposing vegetable matter and mud, much of which we’d splattered on each other with our pitchforks – reacted to the sudden appearance of empty water bottles and soda cans as if these were the revolting and offensive items. We’d totally psychologically normalized the yucky  nastiness, and it was glorious. Also we found someone’s ponytail. There was much speculation on how it ended up in our pile (winning theory: driven mad by the heatwave, someone did something they might regret). Importantly, awesomely, human hair is a nitrogen-based organic, so it stayed in the pile!

Here’s the thing: doing it just once has made me a zealot.  So here I am to say loud and clear: You need to get in on making a Big Salad. It’s just too gloriously disgusting and rewarding and educational and impactful to miss out on. Keep dropping off your cantaloupe and carrot greens! Do that all the time and always. But the Big Salad is bucket list stuff: once in a while or at very least once in your lifetime, you really need a piece of this action. Why not Sunday August 19th?  Be there at noon! The truck will be there, and so will David, and so will I.

John Foley-Murphy

Kick-Off Potluck on June 6

We are gearing up to start the season and enjoy months of delicious food

Join us on Wednesday, June 6 to mingle with CSA members, enjoy a great meal, and meet the farm team that nurtures the food from the farm to our tables.

We will be going over lots of season details, including events in the works for the CSA, share information, volunteer and workshare requirements/opportunities, and discussing our participation in a local food movement.

It’s important to us that we get to know you, so please come!

The Youth Empowerment Program will be helping to set up the event.

Please come at 6pm if you have time to help get the farm ready and meet the teens.

Full dinner event starts at 7 p.m.; please bring a dish to share.  We are also asking that folks bring a mason jar and candle to donate to the CSA so we can have ample lighting for the evenings event,and for future events,  We will store them on the farm.

event details:
when : June 6th, Wednesday
where : the Red Hook Community Farm
time : 6pm to meet the Youth Program, and help set up
          7pm to meet the farm team, 7.30pm share a meal


bring : a dish to share / candle+mason jar 

event is RAIN OR SHINE

Red Hook Harvest Festival on Saturday!

Come visit the farm Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for this year’s Harvest Festival, featuring a supersized farmers’ market, music, food from four local restaurants, children’s activities, pumpkins, animals, and more!

As Kristen puts it: “Please come out to support us and bring all of your friends. Really, all 483 Facebook friends.”

In addition to the festivities, the distribution will be different. CSA members will receive a voucher to be spent at the  farmers market in the amount of your share value for this week. You will be able to spend that voucher on any Added Value or Phillips Farm produce.  The vouchers can ONLY be spent on produce — not on eggs, dairy, grains, fruit, or cheese.

The fruit and egg shares will also be available and will be set aside separate from the market just for CSA members to pick up. Please check in with Kristen or the CSA member managing the market to get your  voucher and also be directed towards the fruit/eggs/cheese if you have that share. To clarify, these vouchers may ONLY be spent on produce, and not eggs, dairy, grains, fruit, or cheese.

The last farmers’ market of the season will be Oct. 29, and the last egg-share make up vouchers will be distributed then.

Photo by Moriah Simmons.

2 Tasty Ways to Support the Farm


Thank you to everyone who was able to come out to the Harvest Festival last weekend. There was such amazing support from the entire community despite the hail damage that destroyed the crops earlier this month.

The Farm is still trying to rebuild and recoup from that freak storm. So for those of you who like to eat for charity, there are upcoming dinners at two of Brooklyn’s best restaurants: Ici and the Good Fork.

See you there!

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