Archive for the ‘Brooklyn Farmer’ Category

Support Your Community Garden

March 27, 2009


Yesterday marked the groundbreaking ceremony at the Phoenix Garden in Ocean Hill, Brooklyn. Even though the air was chilly and the sky was grey, a sizable number of people turned out to celebrate the community garden. A pair of garden gloves was handed out as people entered the garden. Of course, I scored a cute pair of purple ones. Apple cider, muffins, and pretzels were served by Daniel Strecker, Youthmarket Operations Coordinator for the CENYC, as the crowd waited for the ceremony to begin.

Marcel Van Ooyen, Executive Director of the CENYC introduced Adrian Benepe, Parks & Recreation Commissioner. Mr. Benepe gave the students from PS 155’s garden club, who were in attendance, a pop quiz with questions like where do apples grow. In unison the students responded “on trees!”. Christine Quinn, City Council Speaker, then spoke about the city’s combined mission of ending both hunger and obesity through projects like the Phoenix Garden. The redevelopment of the garden was made possible by capital funding from Ms. Quinn and the City Council. Darlene Mealy, District 41 Council Member, offered up words of encouragement to the PS 155 garden club members. Robert Kafin, CENYC Chairman, covered a number of exciting additions that will be made to the garden including: a gazebo, a trellis for climbing plants, picnic tables, 1,000 gallon rainwater harvesting tank, enhanced compost site, and an outdoor classroom. This year the garden will have 50 individual plots.


Jerry Summers, Phoenix Garden Member, said he had been gardening for 10 years and elicited several laughs when he said he wanted to share that black eyed peas don’t always come in Goya cans. Ed Fowler, Director of Neighbors Together, a soup kitchen located down the street,  spoke about his organization’s mission to end hunger and how participating in a community garden is part of the solution. If you are interested in volunteering at Neighbors Together, they need help Monday – Friday. The serve lunch 12pm-3pm and dinner 5pm-7pm. Call ahead first to find out if they need volunteers on that day. 718-498-7256.


I later met two of the members of the garden – Marcia Denson and Anne Serrano – who had been actively involved in the planning meetings for the garden renovation. The meetings were a collaborative process with a 15 person committee let by the Green Guerillas. When I asked Ms. Denson and Ms. Serrano what they were looking forward to growing this year, they replied with a number of vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes, eggplant, collard greens, cabbage, okra, spinach, and basil. Last year, membership to the garden was full and there was even a waiting list of 10-15 people. Ms. Serrano pointed out that you can still join the community garden even if you don’t have a plot.


The space, the dirt, the people at the garden were brimming with enthusiasm for all of the potential this new renovation would bring. The community had watched as an abandoned plot of land had been transformed into a garden over the past few years. For more information on community gardens, please visit Green Guerillas and Green Thumb. Feel free to share what is going on at your community garden, what you are growing, and how it is going.


Phoenix Garden

March 25, 2009

While the country is abuzz with the exciting news of the new vegetable garden being planted on the White House South Lawn, local New Yorkers are doing their part to recognize a variety of landscapes as gardening plots. There are 600 community gardens in the city and one in particular, the Phoenix Garden, is being recognized tomorrow by the Council on the Environment of New York City. If you can make it, swing by the groundbreaking ceremony taking place at the garden.

The Phoenix Garden truly means a great deal the community with 45 members who grow everything from zucchini to collard greens. In addition to the members being able to enjoy the garden’s bounty, they also share their harvest with Neighbors Together, a soup kitchen serving 500 people daily. The Phoenix Garden represents how growing food locally can create a more sustainable community and how members of the community can directly invest it their community’s success and future. For more information on the event tomorrow, please visit:

Phoenix Garden

2037 Fulton Street

Somers Street and Rockaway Avenue

Brooklyn, New York

Groundbreaking Ceremony:

Thursday, March 26th at 11:00am

Union Square Mondays

February 8, 2009

Since the year-round Brooklyn Greenmarkets are only open Tuesdays & Saturdays, I’ve been hitting the Union Square Greenmarket the past few Mondays. The set-up there is a little different right now due to some construction going on off of Union Square West. For the most up-to-date list of producers, swing by the CENYC tent & grab a map detailing who’s there on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. This list will help you plan for future trips but may be updated when more producers return in the springtime. If you decide to go to Union Square on a Monday, you will find: Bread Alone, Patches of Star Dairy, Greener Pastures, Buon Pane, D&J Organic, Red Jacket Orchards, Central Valley Farm, Martin’s Pretzels, Body & Soul Began Bakery, Madura Farm, Queens County Farm Museum, Berkshire Berries, Troncillito Farm, NY Beef Co, Tello’s Green Farm, Healthway Farms, and Race Farm.

During my first walk through, the greens at Hydrogarden Farm, D&J Organic caught my eye. I paid $6.00 for 1/4th of a pound of baby spinach and frisee. I was too excited by the thought of the greens and decided to splurge. My next stop was at Patches of Star Dairy for goat cheese. Their goat cheese is so smooth and creamy that it needs little else to be enjoyed. They also have ice cream but it might be until summer before I get up the nerve to try it. I also picked up half a dozen eggs at Central Valley Farm. 

Queens County Farm at Union Square Mondays

Queens County Farm at Union Square Mondays

I was almost headed home until I spotted the Queens Country Farm Museum’s stand. I had no idea they were at the Greenmarket, and as of right now they only have a stand there on Mondays. What really caught my eye were the free samples of hot tomato soup being handed out on a really cold day of walking around outside. The soup was made from the farm’s frozen Brandywine tomatoes. Other notable edibles included: fresh local eggs, microgreens, broccoli sprouts, and honey.


Herbs and Microgreens and Honey

Herbs and Microgreens and Honey


And now for a bit of history. The Queens Farm can be traced back to 1697 with only eight owners of the farm since then. The museum opened in 1975 and became a historic landmark in 1979. For more information on the farm, check out their website where you learn more about events starting up in the spring, renting out the farm, educational programs, sustainable agriculture, and more.

Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup

Make sure to stop by their booth the next time you’re in the neighborhood for a tomato soup sample and to learn more about the farm’s historic origins. You will also now find pasture-raised heritage pork – could there be a better reason to go to Union Square.

Going green

February 3, 2009

The New York Times article “Praise the Lord and Green the Roof” reports on a group of unlikely trendsetters: Episcopal sisters going green. What was inspiring to me was the sisters’ devotion to local and sustainable eating. The sisters shop at farmer’s markets, pick up a produce share from Roxbury Farm at a neighboring church, and even compost their food detritus. The sisters are now working on a new green home which will be built in West Harlem.

This eco-conscious move underscores the correlation between knowing where your food comes from and knowing where your roof comes from. One green idea, shopping at your farmer’s market, leads to the next green idea: understanding your surroundings and registering the implications of consumption on a variety of levels. While I currently do not have the opportunity, like the sisters, to build a new green structure from ground up, I do have the opportunity to start with just a few, small green thoughts: carrying my own bags with which to shop at farmer’s markets, drinking tap water, consuming less in general but being more thoughtful when I do. Recycle your green thoughts here and share the ways in which you and your community are going green.

Last Saturday at Brooklyn Borough Hall

January 27, 2009

Last Saturday, I decided to head down to the Greenmarket at Brooklyn Borough Hall. With only three stands open, my trip was relatively short and made even shorter by the below freezing temperature and biting wind. First, I stopped at Bread Alone because I was in dire need of their nutty granola mix only to find out that an early-to-rise shopper had bought out all of their granola first thing that morning. 

I then headed over to Not Just Rugelach where I picked up some of their granola instead. Not Just Rugelach is at Borough Hall both Tuesdays and Saturdays and offers a wide array of savory and sweet baked goods. Highlights from the savory side included: Foccacia (available with three different toppings: tomato, tomato with garlic, and onion), knishes (potato, spinach with feta and dill, and sweet potato), quiche, pot pies, brioche, whole wheat, seven grain, rye, and challah bread. If you’re in the mood for dessert, there were: brownies, danish, old fashioned pound cake, carrot cake, pies, muffins, scones, cookies and donuts. In addition to the granola I had picked out, I also settled on a zucchini cake and an apple cider donut – which seems to be a standard farmer’s market offering.

I found the best offerings of the day at Wilklow Orchards, a family farm located in the Hudson Valley. The ample selection of apples included over one dozen varieties: Winesap, Empire, Jona Gold, Mutsu, Cameo, Macoun, Candy Crisp, Red Delicious, MacIntosh, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Rome and Honey Crisp. Wilklow also offered a nice array of baked goods: banana bread, pies, cream cheese poundcake, donuts, and muffins. Since I was already covered in the baked goods department, I picked up an acorn squash (the only vegetable/gourd I saw that day), apple cider, tenderloin, and bacon. Wilkow’s free range beef and pork menus are shown below and if you eat meat – they offer something for everyone.


Wilklow's Free Range Beef

Wilklow's Free Range Beef

Wilklow's Free Range Pork

Wilklow's Free Range Pork

I will report back on how the tenderloin turned out and think I will roast the squash and either make a soup or risotto with it. Which reminds me, I also decided to pick up a few apples in case I go with the soup.

Urban Folks

January 26, 2009

Wendell Berry’s article “New Year’s Revolutions: What city people can do.” featured in Edible Brooklyn’s winter 2008 issue (which I just dug out of my stack of articles to read) sets up thought provoking questions for the urban eater and then challenges us to move into a more active role in the process of eating. Are we merely consumers blindly feeding on what the food industry serves us? As city folk, why should we care to know where are food comes from? Have we lost the sense of connectedness to community and land? Since we do live in an urban landscape, is it realistic for us to then make the connections between farm to table? 

My response to Berry’s article (which you can find at if you missed the issue) would be first to explore the year round farmer’s markets found in your neighborhood. For starters, there are four Greenmarkets operating year round in Brooklyn: 

Greenpoint – McCarren Park – Open Saturdays 8-3

Fort Greene Park – Open Saturdays 8-5

Brooklyn Borough Hall – Open Tuesdays & Saturdays 8-6

Grand Army Plaza – Open Saturdays 8-4

Check out the official Greenmarket website to download their locations map and schedule which includes information on Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, and Staten island. I know that it is the dead of winter and dreadfully cold outside, but I challenge you to get out there and find out what’s at your local farmer’s market. You might be surprised, and you might even enjoy yourself.

Rural Projects

October 6, 2008

I am now obsessed with the idea of getting a few chickens. It all started when my friend Amelia introduced me to her friends Greg and Sarah. Amelia had invited me up to Ancram to a dinner party she was hosting with Greg and Sarah and their organization Rural Projects. I love Amelia’s cooking and decided I was up for an adventure.


Martine Kaczynski's sculpture, Route 11

Martine Kaczynski's sculpture, Route 11


The dinner was inspired by Martine Kaczynski’s site specific sculpture, Route 11 which was installed on the side of the road by the same name. I must have driven by that sculpture, an old replica of a gas station canopy, three times before realizing that it was the location for the cocktail hour. The road was dark save for the sparkle coming from the lights strung around the sculpture. I mean it was pretty obvious that this was the only place on Route 11 where anything was going on that night. 

After I found where the other cars were parked, I made my way over to the cocktail hour which was already in full swing. I found Amelia who was mingling and her boyfriend Anthony who was manning the bar and fixing drinks. On the drinks menu were two cocktails: the Columbia Cocktail with honeycrisp apple infused voda, rosemary syrup and soda and the Rural Rose (my choice) with pluot puree, Pernod, and champagne. I was relieved when I met Greg who told me I could stay at their neighbor’s house for the night – basically giving me permission to enjoy my Rural Rose and many glasses of wine to follow. Unfortunately, I had timed my trip badly and arrived too late to enjoy the green chile cheese tamales and the walnut roquefort cookies with pickled onion and apple. Maybe Amelia will give me the recipes and I can make them at home.

Greg and Sarah then announced that it was time for us to make our way over to their neighbor’s for a seated four course dinner. I stayed behind to take a few pictures of the gas canopy while Anthony loaded up the contents of the bar into his car. When we arrived for dinner, there were two tables set for about 20 people. I joined Amelia in the kitchen and helped serve the first course, a butternut squash and apple soup with a playful garnish of walnuts and bacon. I sat down at a table with Greg and Sarah, their neighbors (our hosts), and a few other couples. We all sat in silence for a short time while we enjoyed the soup and then exchanged smiles and nods over Amelia’s artful creation. 

The salad course allowed for more conversation. I learned more about my companions over a salad composed of spicy greens, fennel, purple basil and grated beets. I sat across from the town doctor who had moved up to the Catskills with her husband from Manhattan. The doctor’s hat reminded me of a chicken, and I should have asked her where she got it (or maybe she made it).

When the next course was served, talk turned to what made a farm a farm. I had offered up my experience at the Red Hook Community Farm and was basically told that my CSA work share experience was more akin to gardening than farming. I wasn’t too happy to hear that so I turned my attention to the chicken spiced with jus, smoky eggplant puree, crispy polenta and roasted tomato. While I took comfort in the fresh chicken, my dinner companion told me that perhaps he had been too quick too judge and apologized for what he said. I think he was speaking from his experience of having once had a garden on his roof in Manhattan and then making the move up to the Catskills where he had a farm. I think what makes a farm a farm is personal and it’s hard to put a label on something like that.

I then ducked into the kitchen to check on Amelia and her friends who were working on the dessert course. Amelia stood at the stove warming the sexy star anise whiskey sauce which she then poured over a deliciously yellow sweet corn ice cream.

As the evening wound down, I went outside with Amelia as she said her goodbyes to some of the guests. Relieved that I was staying put for the night and that Amelia only had to wander across the street to Greg and Sarah’s camper, we finished the last of the wine and reflected on a successful supper club in the perfect Columbia County setting.

The next morning I was awakened by hushed stirrings in the kitchen and decided I needed to jump in and help with the dishes. After catching up over coffee with our hosts, we went to Greg and Sarah’s which is where I saw the chickens. Tomato vines lined the fence and zucchini and squash were growing too. I just stood a while and studied the chickens. 


Greg and Sarah's chickens

Greg and Sarah's chickens


When I got home to Brooklyn, I asked Jonathan what he thought about us getting a couple of chickens for our backyard. He thought this was a good idea until he realized I was serious. Well, I am serious. It’s just that we don’t have any grass outside, just concrete. So, I think I’ll have to put my chicken aspirations off, at least for a little while.

More about Amelia & Rural Projects:

For more information on Amelia and what she’s up to, visit and For more on Rural Projects and Greg & Sarah’s endeavors, visit

Tennessee Tendencies

September 9, 2008


Red Hook Community Farm

Red Hook Community Farm


As I mentioned in my last post, I was interested in embarking on a composting journey of sorts. Well, let me tell you, it has begun and composting at home is fun. Two weeks ago, I picked up a two and a half gallon composting bucket at the Red Hook Community farm. The suggested donation for a bucket of that size is a mere $4.00. They do offer a larger size bucket for a suggested donation of $7.00. Since it is just Jonathan and me, I thought the two and a half gallon bucket would suffice.

Transporting my bucket home that day on my bike required just a little bit of improvisation. I thought riding home with the bucket on the bike handle seemed like a likely enough solution, but then the lid fell off and I had to stop mid traffic and pick it up. Then, I decided to stop at the ball fields for lunch and thought it wise to lock up my composting bucket to my bike. Not sure why anyone would want to take such a thing, but then again, I didn’t want to lose that deposit!

my compost bucket

my compost bucket


Once home, I thought about the best possible location for the bucket. Turns out, right outside my back door is the most convenient spot. I just open my back door and there it is. I am lucky enough to have the benefit of an outdoor space in Brooklyn so I think it goes without saying that having an outdoor space to keep your compost bucket makes the most sense.

When I told my friends that I was composting at home, most of them replied first with a look of horror which was then followed by “Ooo, isn’t that going to smell.” Well, luckily it doesn’t really smell that bad and it really only smells when I open the lid. What was fun about composting for the first few weeks was figuring out what I could reserve for the bucket while cooking dinner and then feeling a certain amount of accomplishment when I threw in egg shells, corn husks, coffee grounds, and the discarded and unwanted greens.

Biking back to the farm proved more of a challenge. Balancing a full bucket on my bike handle was a somewhat terrifying experience, but luckily this time the lid stayed on the whole time. Once I arrived at the farm, I took my bucket to the composting area, and with a little help figured out what to. I added my bucket’s contents to the open tumbler and then added double the amount of sawdust, closed up the tumbler, and proceed to turn the tumbler a few times. I rinsed out my bucket and brought it home to start the process again. Composting is cause for pausing to think about what I am throwing in the trash and really taking a look at what can go back into the earth. While biking my compost to and fro might not be the best idea, so far so good, and I’m looking to returning to the farm this Saturday.

If you are interested in composting and live in or near Red Hook, Brooklyn, you can visit the Red Hook Community Farm to learn more. The farm is open for volunteers who want to help out on Saturdays. Just show up and I’m sure there will be weeding, composting, and not to mention shopping at the farmer’s market.

For more on home composting, why not check it out at and

A little something to inspire you to start composting is this quote of the week featured on

“Composting is a lot like sex. It’s a healthy, natural process involving fertility, tumbling around, and– when it’s going right–steaminess. On top of that, some people call it dirty.”

– A to Green: Tips, tricks, and resources for everyday eco-living 

Brooklyn Farmer Farms

August 21, 2008


Red Hook Community Farm

Red Hook Community Farm


Okay, I hope to write more about this next weekend, but I did want to go ahead and write a little bit about my first day of working on the farm in Red Hook, Brooklyn. I just signed up for a work share which means if I work two hours every Saturday, then I get to take home a full share’s worth of vegetables, fruit, and eggs. A pretty rewarding amount of food for a few hours of work.

My day began at ten in the morning composting with Jeff and another volunteer. The other volunteer and I raked layers of compost materials, sawdust, and chicken manure in the compost pile. The smell was brutal and unrelenting and stuck with me for a full 24 hours. I think I was being hazed on my first day at the farm. I wasn’t ready to give up yet and even decided that the next Saturday I would bring home my own two and a half gallon compost bucket and give this composting thing a shot. I will just have to keep in mind to use food scraps like banana peels, orange rinds, egg shells, coffee grinds, and the like.

After composting (which I actually really enjoyed except for the smell), it was off to weeding with a few other volunteers. Once I got started pulling weeds on a row of collard greens and kale, it was tough to stop, and I stuck it out the whole way down the row. It felt good to be in the dirt and working hard on the farm. If I had been paying attention, I might have noticed my t-shirt not meeting my shorts in the middle of the very hot summer day. I was too busy chatting and weeding and thinking about picking up my CSA bounty at the end of my shift. 


At the end of the day, I took home my fabulous share of eggplant, beets, collard greens, corn, cherry tomatoes, basil, edamame, jalapenos, garlic, peaches, and apricots. (I also took home a nice strip of sunburn on my back which I didn’t notice until hours later when I was too tired to care.) I’ll get to take home eggs next week.

The Red Hook Farmer’s Market is open:

Thursdays at 6 Wolcott between Wolcott & Dwight) from 11am – 3pm

Saturdays at Columbia & Beard Street from 9am – 3pm

For more information, please visit Added Value’s website at

Brooklyn Farmer loves Michael Pollan

August 10, 2008


The White House Organic Farm Bus

The White House Organic Farm Bus

When I left work Friday, I thought I would try to arrive at Michael Pollan’s lecture at P.S.1 ten minutes early, but when I got off of the 7 train and turned the corner on Jackson Avenue, I realized I had not planned for the mob of Michael Pollan groupies who had surrounded the museum. The line outside P.S.1 at 6:50pm wound round the block, the next block, and then the next block again. I’m not sure exactly where I was in the line but people just kept showing up.

While I was waiting in line, a guy jumped out into the street directing a school bus to pull in front of the museum. The website on the side of the bus read I thought if I had been eating a Big Mac I would have had organic milk thrown on me. More on the magic bus later. After about 15 minutes or so of standing in line, a P.S.1 employee approached us (I was having serious doubts about even getting in at this point) and let us know that they were running out of space in the lecture hall. The line was still moving, so I decided to wait it out. When I got to the front, they really weren’t letting anyone else in. I said I would just pay the suggested $5.00 donation just to check out the situation.

I was then approached by Daniel from the White House Organic Farm project, thus the school bus and all the excitement out front. He let me know they were starting a petition for the next president to plant an organic farm on the front lawn of the White House. Visit for more information and to sign up for their mailing list.

I then made my way to the lecture hall and ended up with a spot standing in the back but I could still hear and see (the reflection of Michael Pollan in the mirrored ceiling) so that was something.


P.S.1 Lecture Hall

My view of P.S.1 Lecture Hall in the mirrored ceiling.

Michael Pollan started out by asking a question “What if we looked at it from the plant’s point of view?”. As human beings, I’m not sure if we are humble enough to put ourselves in this position, but I give Pollan credit for asking. He then described where his interest in investigating this topic stemmed from ten years ago. His thought process started while he was planting potatoes in his garden in Connecticut. If I had a little plot of land, I might have major epiphanies too.

What I thought about as Pollan continued to speak was – how could I not have learned about the relationship between plants and animals and their relationship to land in school? What seemed to me to be the most basic of premises on which farms are built had eluded me for most of my life. Now here I am living in Brooklyn wondering about farms and how I can get on one.

If I think about sustainable agriculture versus machine farming, as Pollan put it, I think the two sides of farming really speak for themselves. Pollan then asked, “Where is the animal’s point of view?”. Well, this is exactly why I started shopping at farmer’s markets – out of a desire to know where my food comes from. Pollan’s next question was, “How do we treat animals in confinement?”. I guess to really know the answer to his question I would have to visit a feedlot or a CAFO – Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. In The Omnivore’s Dilemma Pollan devotes a whole chapter to feedlots. Pollan in his lecture discussed how if an animal is a machine, then a farm is a factory. Once he put it that way, I started to see how farming had perhaps become less about agriculture in the United States and more about capitalism. Except for the farmer Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm, who Pollan discusses in The Ominvore’s Dilemma, and countless other farmers. You can learn more about Salatin and Polyface at Pollan described Salatin’s farm as “an ecosystem, instead of a factory.”







As I left P.S.1 Friday night, I felt like I really needed to get closer to my food, to engage in more of a dialogue with it. I needed to get on a farm. When I woke up Saturday morning, Jonathan and I got on our bikes and rode to the Added Value farmer’s market in Red Hook. Tucked away at the very end of Columbia Street, sits Red Hook’s very own farm where I will hopefully be volunteering next Saturday from 9:00am until 3:00pm and getting closer to where my food comes from.