The Farm, The CSA and The Market Are Coming Back!

Dear Friends,

It has been a long winter and now Spring has now really sprung. Corbin and our Youth Leaders (who have been joined by Aseel, who has returned to AV as a College Intern in the program) have just completed a Community Food Assessment; our Urban Farm Corps members are working hard to build out the new farm site on Wolcott street; David is still composting like a mad man; and yes, Kenny is quickly filling up the Greenhouse.

As we enter the tenth season of growing at Red Hook Community Farm, we here at AV want to first convey our gratitude to you, the CSA members, for your care and concern in the immediate aftermath of Sandy, and for your continued interest and investment in the health of the fields and the wellbeing of the Staff and youth leaders.

We are excited to say that despite the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, we will be rebuilding the farm this season. Our soil science came back with conflicting information. There were a number of toxins but only in negligible amounts.

We have been working with the City and State (and Gita’s firm ThreadCollective) to redesign the farm in a way that is more productive, more educational and more resilient to the changes that have come to us as a result of global climate change. We anticipate the approval of a final plan by early May and to begin the buildout soon thereafter.

Our current plan is to replace the existing soil, import new compost and raise the level of the farm to two feet deep. Raising the soil will allow us plant many new crops, manage irrigation and drainage better while limiting the impacts of future inundation.

Should this plan be approved, it may mean that the farm will not be planted until late June, which means that we will not have crops available to you until mid-July, or roughly three weeks after our traditional start time. BUT, WE WILL STILL HAVE A SEASON, EVEN IF DELAYED, AND THE FARMERS MARKET AND CSA will be held.

AS THE PLANS GET FIRMED UP WE WILL BE SENDING OUT WEEKLY UPDATES ON THE REBUILD SO THAT THE CSA CAN WATCH THE TRANSFORMATION.

In order to keep our schedule on track and provide members with fresh, locally produced food we have been organizing with our friends at Greenmarkets who have agreed to provide us with delivered produce from great regional farmers. Linking into the regional food system will help to ensure that we can launch Saturday June 22nd. Our additional share options of egg (new producer from the Finger Lakes), fruit, and cheese will remain unaffected and will be part of the share options as usual.

We will be providing you with contracts by no later than the beginning of next week. Within the contract you can opt in or opt out of these first weeks when the produce is not ours. Whatever your choice we hope that you know that your continued support of the farm and our work at Added Value is meaningful and important to us. We hope that you will continue in the CSA and participate in the local urban agricultural community.

All the best,
Ian and the rest of the AV team.

Happy Food Day!

Friends, it’s Food Day.

Today around the city and around the country people are gathering to celebrate the growing movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food that is produce with fair and humane practices.

Here in our neighborhood we are working with our Friends at the New York City Housing Authority and our Urban Farm Corps to install a new farm right in the middle of the Red Hook Housing Development.

While we’re in the field many of our friends are in the streets and online advocating for changes in our food system that would ensure a more justice and equitable society. We wanted to share the news of three very important and exciting things happening today.

First, here in New York City, our Council has completed is first report (required under Local Law 52) on how food is produced, processed, distributed, and consumed throughout the region so we can better understand how the food system is operating and what we can do to improve it.

The metrics included in the report cover everything from the amount of local and regional food being purchased by the NYC Department of Education; to the impact of FRESH, Healthy Bodegas, Green Carts and other city programs to increase access to healthy, affordable food; to the efforts being made to make meals served in hospitals, senior centers and homeless shelters more nutritious. Having this data will help the City make better decisions about how we get our food and how to improve its impact on public health and the environment.  You can download a copy of the report here. I am very excited about the publication of this report as I believe it helps all of understand what is happening on the ground and in our city.

On a national level PolicyLink is today issuing a very exciting report, Growing Urban Agriculture: Equitable Strategies and Policies for Improving Access to Healthy Food and Revitalizing Communities.  You can find a link to the PolicyLink page which has the full urban ag report, the urban ag online tool, and a video about Added Value, here.  Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and CEO of PolicyLink, will be blogging about urban agriculture on the Food Day blog page all today. I believe that Policy Links Focus on racial and economic justice in the food system and throughout our society is vitally important to positive transformation of our neighborhood, this country, and the world as a whole.

If we are to transform this system it is critical that we have a detailed understanding of the crisis we are facing in our food system and who is manufacturing it. It is also vitally important that we learn about the successful models being built out there.

Today, FOODMYTHBUSTERS officially launches their website. Food Myth Busters is brought to you by the Real Food Media Project, a collaboration between our friend author Anna Lappé, Corporate Accountability International, and an amazing Coalition of leading food and farming organizations. They offer creative videos, online resources, and grassroots organizing tools that debunk the myths that corporate agriculture are selling us, and that tell the real story about the food we eat and how we can grow a stronger, healthier more just and sustainable food system.

If you have time in the next few days read some of these reports, watch one or two of these great short videos, and share this information with friends and family.

As a shareholder in the farm also please consider becoming a friend of ours on Facebook. You can follow us here.

With respect and gratitude,

Ian and the AV team.

Mid-Season Update From Ian Marvy

Hi Friends and Neighbors,

We have really begun to feel global climate change in a drastic way this year. Before spring even hit, the apple crop had blossomed. Apples, normally the mainstay of the autumnal fruit CSA, are in for a difficult season; the early warmth in the winter, followed by regular frosts, killed many apple blossoms in early spring. Then heavy wind and rain blew away the second succession of flowers.

Many orchards in the region are expecting smaller yields this year and it’s not just here in our state or our region; the whole Midwest and parts of the Northwest are suffering from 80% crop loss in the apple industry.

Spring as a whole was great for us greens-growing farms. But the heat hit early, as you know, killing off the harvest before we could bring you tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. But the heat is not just the issue. Despite dramatic rain falls that keeps us above the board, the rest of the nation and really the majority of the planet is now in drought.

Wheat, corn and soy are already more expensive on the open commodity market, meaning milk, cheese, meat, and your regular slice will all soon be more expensive.

Here at Added Value have been mindful of the weather and conscious of your timely investment. We plan to continue to deliver high-quality, flavorful, nutritious foods grown in a way that respects the planet, you, your family and our neighbors. As weather changes we are making adjustments and look forward to sharing the bounties to come.

We are motivated by our partnership, thankful for the investment, and excited to share with you the fruits of our collective labor.

Ian

Now some notes from the farm crew.

You’ve probably all seen the garlic curing in the harvest station this past month; it is now ready and you’ll be getting some this week. It was a lot to process and sort out (the biggest, prettiest ones get saved to be seed for next year’s crop); thankfully we had a big crew of young people around today to help us out! Many hands do indeed lighten up the work load.

As for the rest of the share, all across the region and here in Red Hook the summer crops are starting to kick in one by one! We started harvesting tomatoes this week (though there are only enough for market so far. You guys will be getting them in the next couple of weeks) and the eggplants, peppers and cucumbers are starting to look pretty big. Some other things that might be in your share this week: dandelion greens, sorrel, onions, beets, kohlrabi, cooking greens (chard, collards, broccoli greens, amaranth), scallions, squash, arugula…

We’re thrilled to have peaches at a better price than ever before this week. This year’s peaches from Phillips’ Farm have been outstanding, and this week he has offered them to us for a special price. Given the anticipation of high prices in the fall for local fruit, we want to take advantage of every opportunity to provide our CSA with abundant fruit while we can.

Small fruit shares will be receiving 3 lbs of peaches; large shares will be receiving 5 lbs.

For now, enjoy the Red Hook red garlic and the beautiful peaches!

The Added Value Team 

A Letter From Ian Marvy About the 2012 Food & Farm Bill

Ian Marvy, pictured here in a photo essay about Added Value on NonaBrooklyn.com.

 

Dear Neighbors:

I grew up in South Minneapolis and attended Laura Ingles Wilder Public School. My mom was a school breakfast and lunch lady and often out of need I ate two meals a day at school. These programs were vitally important to me and my family as I grew up and they are even more so to our friends and neighbors here in Red Hook.

Currently more than 95% of the students at PS 15 are eligible for free and reduced lunch. This means that the vast majority of families that send their children to PS 15 qualify for SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program formerly known as food stamps). In a neighborhood where unemployment is more than 50%, these programs are not just important, they are essential to the health and well being of our neighbors.

Equally important, and something that politicians don’t often say, is that SNAP, and these other food benefit programs are highly effective forms of economic development. By providing those most in need with assistance with purchasing foods of their choice we are creating customers for grocers and bodega’s in our neighborhood.

Supplemental food programs are vitally important to our friends, our neighbors and the businesses that we frequent each day. Please take a few minutes and, either cut and paste the information below into an email, or craft your own words letting the House of Representative know that we need a Farm Bill that will feed our nation, not just large agricultural corporations.

Ian Marvy
Your neighbor and CSA member

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New York SNAP Benefits

Dear Friends:

Yesterday (May 17) Governor Coumo Announced an end to the odious practice in New York that requires families seeking SNAP (food stamps) to be finger printed. This is a very important announcement. While there is much work to be done, I wanted to share with each of you one small slice of what it could mean if every New Yorker who qualified for SNAP got it.

In the Governor’s press release he states that have in New York we have 1.4 million neighbors who are eligible for but not receiving SNAP.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports that in New York Sate the average household awarded for SNAP was $278 per month.

The Economic Research Service of the USDA reports that SNAP has an incredible economic multiplier of 1.79 per dollar spent.

What could this mean for New Yorkers, for our neighborhood bodegas, our grocers and our food system?

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