Volunteers Sought to Get Farm-Fresh Food to Needy Families

 

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High School volunteers help prep the garden for the upcoming season

A newly piloted community supported agriculture (CSA) program in Mount Kisco, run by the nonprofit organization InterGenerate, is seeking volunteers to help distribute locally grown organic produce to neighbors in need.

“The intent of this CSA is to feed approximately 30 families who identify as food insecure. To bring this project to fruition, we need a team of volunteers to pick up produce from local farms, pack bags and drive them to drop-off locations in the area. Most of the tasks associated with this project will take place on a single day each week at our garden in Mount Kisco,” says Roseann Rutherford, co-founder of InterGenerate.

InterGenerate was launched in 2009 with the goal of creating a better world by providing opportunities to grow organic produce and expanding access to healthy food. It operates community gardens in Chappaqua, Katonah, Millwood and Mount Kisco, where produce is grown by members and volunteers.

With most InterGenerate gardens, members tend to their own plots and also work with other members to tend a Giving Garden, whose harvest is donated to the community. This year, however, InterGenerate has unveiled a new model of community gardening at the Ann Manzi Center in Mount Kisco. With this model, families will share the tasks of caring for the entire space, each family will take the produce it needs, and the rest of the harvest will be donated. The first workday for this garden will be May 4 at 10 a.m.

“This is a perfect model for beginning gardeners and busy people, as we will all share the experience of gardening without any one person feeling overburdened,” says Mey Marple, co-director of the project.

InterGenerate’s newly piloted CSA will help address the problem of food insecurity in Westchester. According to Feeding Westchester, one in five county residents will experience food insecurity this year. Using harvests from all their Giving Gardens and the communal garden at the ARC, as well as produce donated by or purchased from several surrounding farms, InterGenerate will distribute organic produce to those in need at very low cost. Any funds generated will be used to purchase locally grown food not grown by InterGenerate.

“With each new project, there is a need for more volunteers,” Rutherford says. “Anyone interested in helping to build community, feed neighbors in need and make this world a better place is encouraged to contact us.”

For more info, visit InterGenerate.net.

 

 

 

Farm-Fresh Local Food: CSAs get flexible with new features like choose-your-own produce, special add-ons and sliding-scale prices.

 

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Education Manager Ellie Limpert in one of three high tunnels at Poughkeepsie Farm Project

When people join a CSA (community supported agriculture) program—paying a local farm up-front for a season-long supply of produce—everybody wins. The farm benefits from the early investment. Members benefit from the nutritious produce (typically fresh picked and chemical free). The local economy benefits, and so does the environment (no toxic pesticides or long-haul trucks).

Buying produce through a CSA can also be cost-effective, especially now that many farms offer flexible plans that allow customers to buy just what they need. Best of all, CSAs build relationships between farmers and the neighbors they feed. CSAs are about community above all else.

Planting season is here, which means CSA signups have begun. Here are a few local farms that offer CSA programs.

 

Fable: From Farm to Table
fableLocated in historic Ossining, Fable is a farm and food hub dedicated to sustainable agriculture. The farm grows produce using organic practices and has pasture-raised chickens its CSA members can meet and feed.

“We believe that through dedication, hard work and modern technological advancements in agriculture, we can provide the freshest produce all year round without the use of harmful pesticides,” says owner Tom Deacon.

Last year Fable introduced its new CSA Farm Card, “with great reviews,” Deacon says. CSA members purchase a Farm Card that they can spend like cash throughout the year in the farm’s market, choosing their own produce—as much or as little as they’d like—over the course of the growing season. Weekly selections are simply subtracted from their credit balance.

A CSA membership helps support the farm during the colder months, and allows us to prepare for an abundant spring and summer harvest,” Deacon says.

Cost: $250-$1,000 for a CSA Farm Card.

What’s included? With the Farm Card, CSA members can purchase any item in Fable’s Market, including produce, eggs, honey and milk. The market is open on weekends year-round, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Fable: From Farm to Table, 1311 Kitchawan Rd., Ossining, NY. Info: FableFoods.com.

 

Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard
harvest20moonHarvest Moon Farm and Orchard, a family-owned and -operated apple orchard in North Salem, grows a variety of stone fruits and vegetables that it sells in its Farm Store and through its CSA. The owners, first-generation farmers, have expanded their harvest every year since opening for business in 2011.

“We are passionate about what we do,” says CSA Manager Todd Stevens. “Simply put, our goal is to supply our community with the freshest produce possible, directly from the farmer.” Harvest Moon grows its food using an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system, which means that organic fertilizers and pest controls are used whenever possible. All of Harvest Moon’s produce is planted and harvested by hand.

Cost: $325-$810. Customers can choose between 13-week and 18-week seasons, and half- or full-bushel shares.

What’s included? Produce typically available includes lettuce, chard, spinach, kale, peaches, nectarines, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, zucchini, melons, peppers, beets, corn, onions, squashes, apples, eggplant and potatoes. Each box includes a dozen farm-fresh eggs, and fresh-pressed sweet cider as available. CSA add-ons include milk, cheese and/or beef shares. A flower add-on includes a fresh, farm-grown bouquet every week for 12 weeks.

Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard, 130 Hardscrabble Rd., North Salem, NY. Info: 914.485.1210, HarvestMoonFarmAndOrchard.com.

 

Poughkeepsie Farm Project
projectPoughkeepsie Farm Project—a 12-acre organic farm whose produce is Certified Naturally Grown—has been connecting food, farm and community for 20 years.

“Not only are we a CSA operating on an urban farm, but we also annually donate 20 percent of our harvest to emergency food providers in the Hudson Valley,” says Ray Armater, executive director. “So in addition to supporting local, small-scale farming, our CSA members are also supporting the organization’s greater mission in the region.”

The farm’s flexible CSA model allows members to select their share size and the items in their share. They can also work with the farm crew for a discounted share, and go out into the fields to pick their own flowers, berries, cherry tomatoes, herbs, hot peppers and other produce. “Pick-your-own allows members and their families to engage with the farm, and it’s a great way for kids to get hands-on with helping to harvest and taste,” Armater says.

The CSA is unique in the amount of flexibility and choice it offers while still staying true to a traditional CSA model, he adds. Members can select 5 or 10 items from a choice of 14 to 20 different items each week. Produce is arranged farmers market-style, and is always harvested fresh and at peak ripeness for maximum nutrition and flavor.

Cost: $445-$885 for a weekly whole or half share (generally 12 to 18 pounds) for a 23-week season. Discounts for work share option.

What’s included? Produce throughout the season, with fruit shares available July through November and the option to purchase locally raised, grass-fed beef from Back Paddock Farm.

Poughkeepsie Farm Project, 51 Vassar Farm Ln., Poughkeepsie, NY. Info: 845.516.1100, FarmProject.org.

 

Ryder Farm
ryderCSA members at Ryder Farm, in Brewster, are helping support one of the oldest organic farms on the East Coast, as well as the larger mission of SPACE on Ryder Farm, a residency program for artists and activists. SPACE, which now oversees farm operations, will host a special “happy hour” pickup party for the first pickup of each month at the farm, where CSA members can mingle with each other and SPACE’s resident artists. A new, sliding-scale CSA has been introduced to ensure memberships are accessible to everyone in the community.

“We recognize that not everyone has access to the monetary resources to receive good, fresh food, but together with our CSA members, we have the capacity to make this possible,” says Farm Manager Doug DeCandia. “So starting this year, with our sliding scale membership, folks who can pay more do, while folks who cannot, pay what they can.”

Cost: $320-$1,150 for weekly or every other week shares, which can be picked up at Ryder Farm or in New York City. Sliding-scale price options available.

What’s included? Organic herbs and vegetables “from A to Z,” plus art created by friends and alumni of SPACE’s artist residency programs.

Ryder Farm, 406 Starr Ridge Rd., Brewster, NY. Info: 646.833.8159, SpaceOnRyderFarm.org/farm.

 

 

 

Ryder Farm Changes Management: SPACE assumes operations as Betsey Ryder retires

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SPACE on Ryder Farm interns with organic produce and plants to be sold starting in May

SPACE on Ryder Farm, the residency program for artists and activists, has assumed management of the organic farming operations at Ryder Farm, succeeding Betsey Ryder of Ryder Farm Cottage Industries, who retired at the end of the 2018 growing season after 40 years of farming. As part of the management shift, SPACE has launched a sliding-scale CSA (community supported agriculture) program.

Located on Starr Ridge Road in Brewster, Ryder Farm is one of the oldest family farms in the Northeast, first established by Eleazer Ryder in 1795. It was an early adopter in the organic movement. Betsey Ryder has been growing organic vegetables, herbs and flowers on the farm since 1978, following in the footsteps of her cousin Hall Gibson and five generations of Ryders before her. Betsey maintained the farm’s presence at the local Brewster market, as well as a robust CSA program, and worked to keep the farm’s 127 acres from being sold for development.

Keeping a Legacy Alive
Emily Simoness, a seventh-generation Ryder, co-founded SPACE in 2011 along with Susan Goodwillie. They created the nonprofit with the two-fold mission of providing time and space for artists and innovators to develop new work, while contributing to the sustainability and resourceful preservation of Ryder Farm.

Located on the grounds of the 224-year-old family homestead, SPACE creates an environment singular in its ability to invigorate artists and innovators and their work, says Simoness, its executive director. Each year, SPACE welcomes nearly 150 artists and activists to the farm for fully subsidized residencies of one to five weeks.

“Since SPACE’s founding, art and agriculture have been in concert on Ryder Farm,” she says. “At a time when family farms are being lost across the country due to economic pressures and the lack of succession plans, SPACE is deeply committed to ensuring Ryder Farm is still farming in another 224 years.”

“Emily arrived to the farm and saw the inspiration inherent in this land and created a vehicle for others to engage in the nurturing and cultivation of their craft,” says Betsey Ryder. “I am lifted by the enthusiasm of SPACE for taking on our agricultural legacy. I am confident that SPACE will grow upon the agricultural base and carry Ryder Farm to new heights.”

What’s New on the Farm
Farmers Jason McCartney and Doug DeCandia will lead farm operations at SPACE. As director of farming, McCartney brings nearly a decade of experience from across the East Coast, including Brookwood Community Farm in Massachusetts and Matunuck Farm in Rhode Island. Farm Manager DeCandia has worked extensively with the Food Bank for Westchester (now known as Feeding Westchester) as both a farmer and a food justice activist. He also previously worked at Ryder Farm in 2010, and says he’s happy to be returning now to work with SPACE.

In addition to stocking SPACE’s residency kitchen, produce from Ryder Farm will be available via sliding-scale CSA memberships. Weekly shares of vegetables and herbs will be available for pickup at the farm and in New York City from June to October. SPACE also will sell produce weekly at Ryder Farm’s roadside stand on Starr Ridge Road in Brewster.

To sign up for a 2019 CSA membership, visit SpaceOnRyderFarm.org/farm or, en Español, SpaceOnRyderFarm.org/granja. For more info, visit SpaceOnRyderFarm.org.

 

 

Fable to Hold Winter Farm Fest in Ossining

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Kristin and Tom Deacon with son Tucker

Fable: From Farm to Table, in Ossining, will hold its Winter Farm Fest on December 9. Guests can buy local crafts and food, feed the farm’s free-range chickens and take horse and carriage rides while enjoying a festive winter atmosphere. Owners Tom and Kristin Deacon say the festival will include many of the vendors who’ve attended previous farm events, as well as some new additions.

“The event’s Facebook page has already spiked interest in the local community,” Tom says. “Our second annual Fall Farm Fest was on September 23rd and hosted over 700 guests. People loved it. After hosting three farm festivals in the past—summer and fall—we received numerous requests for a winter event. So we’re thrilled to put a holiday theme on this farm fest, to bring the community together again to have fun and meet new local vendors and small businesses, many of which are family-run.”

For the Deacons, part of the fun is talking to people who have never been to the farm and introducing them to its recently launched Farm Card program.

“The program is similar to a CSA,” Tom says. “Guests can help support our farm going into the winter, when it matters most. We have some exciting new projects we’d like to work on throughout the winter, and this is a way for the community to rally together and support a super local organic farm with free-range chickens. It’s truly putting the C in CSA.”

The Deacons founded Fable: From Farm to Table because they wanted a source of healthy, nutrient-rich food for their own family.

“Our thinking was, we shouldn’t have to go out to a restaurant to see beautiful pink watermelon radishes, or to taste delicious, nutty sunflower shoots that pack some crunch,” Tom says. “We were also concerned about the harmful chemicals and pesticides in the food system.”

Since then, the farm has become a source of nutritious food for the wider community. Its free-range chickens alone have people flocking there to purchase its organic, pasture-raised eggs, Tom says.

“We now have over 200 chickens and still sell out every weekend,” he says. “It’s our hope that, with enough support from the local community, we can add an additional 300 chickens to our flock this winter. We hope to meet a lot of new, wonderful people at Winter Fest, and if they are able to become a CSA Member, they can help support the farm to reach our goal.”

Location: 1311 Kitchawan Rd. (Rte. 134), Ossining, NY. For more info, call 914.862.0205, email info@fablefoods.com or visit FableFoods.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family-Friendly Fall Farm Fest in Ossining

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Tom and Kristin Deacon of Fable: From Farm to Table

Fable: From Farm to Table, in Ossining, will hold its Fall Farm Fest on September 23, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. With its family-friendly activities and prices—admission is $3, and children under 5 are free—the festival is an opportunity for parents and kids to get outdoors together and celebrate the autumn harvest season.

Visitors can take part in arts and crafts for all ages; hear live music; try a variety of culinary treats, including grilled fare, hearty dishes and baked goods from local shops and food trucks; buy farm-fresh produce grown in Westchester County; enter a raffle drawing (no need to be present to win); listen to live music; and try some Yoga at the Farm. They can also feed Fable’s chickens, tour its hydroponic greenhouse and pick a pumpkin and take family photos in the pumpkin patch.

Tom Deacon, Fable’s owner, says the Fall Farm Fest is a fun way to remind people of the benefits of eating sustainably. “We would like to make local and organic farming the norm,” he says. “Not only can we grow food that is delicious to eat, it is the medicine that will make you healthier as well.”

Fable: From Farm to Table is located at 1311 Kitchawan Rd. (Rte. 134), Ossining, NY. For more info, call 914.862.0205 or visit FableFoods.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farm-to-Table Dinner at Hilltop Hanover Farm

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Farm-to-Table Dinner at Hilltop Hanover Farm

Hilltop Hanover Farm, a nonprofit farm and education center in Yorktown Heights, will hold its fourth annual Farm-to-Table Dinner on September 27. Held every fall, this event serves as a both a fundraiser and a celebration of local and sustainable agriculture, says Farm Director Shanyn Siegel.

The evening will include a cocktail hour, a three-course dinner, music and a silent auction. The main meal, prepared by Chef Jon Pratt of Peter Pratt’s Inn and featuring seasonal produce grown on the farm, will be served under a tent on the main lawn with dramatic views over the farm fields.

“For the past three years, this has been a very special evening for the community to come together over a delicious meal and show our commitment to advancing sustainable agriculture,” Siegel says. “We are thrilled to once again have this event on our calendar, and we can’t wait to see familiar and new faces join us at the table.”

In addition to being a CSA (community-supported agriculture) farm with a retail farm stand, Hilltop Hanover Farm offers education programs for adults and school groups and is open to the public as a demonstration farm.

Tickets to Hilltop Hanover Farm’s Farm-to-Table Dinner are on sale now. For more info, visit HilltopHanoverFarm.org or call 914.962.2368.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farm, Meet Table: CSAs Bring Crops into Our Kitchens

Farm, Meet Table

CSAs Bring Crops into Our Kitchens

by Allison Gorman
Hilltop Hanover Farm and Environmental Center

Hilltop Hanover Farm and Environmental Center

Here’s a prediction: This summer, hundreds of local families will eat enough fresh produce to topple the food pyramid. They’ll experiment with recipes for edamame or turnips or beets. And their kids will try their veggies without being prodded.

These are the members of CSAs—Community Supported Agriculture—small farms that presell shares of the season’s harvest to the public. The burgeoning CSA movement has done wonders for the lifestyle of members, who get weekly helpings of a wide variety of fresh, chemical-free produce; save money by cooking at home more frequently; and feel fully vested in the meals they prepare and eat.

But CSA members aren’t the only beneficiaries of this arrangement. Local economies benefit, as more small farms adopt the CSA model to stay economically viable while staying true to their mission of responsible, hands-on agriculture. And the earth benefits, too, as more people choose to eat seasonally and locally (less produce trucked in from far away) and sustainably (fewer pesticides and other pollutants in the soil and water).

 

Sustaining Tradition

Elizabeth Ryder, owner of Ryder Farm Cottage Industries in Brewster, NY, says its CSA members aren’t just sustaining the earth by buying shares of the farm’s certified organic produce—they’re sustaining centuries of tradition.

“Membership in our CSA provides direct support to local agriculture and helps in keeping the history of a family farm that dates back to 1795,” she says.

Though CSAs are a modern trend, many of them operate on farms with a similarly rich history. Fishkill Farms in Hopewell Junction, NY, is a historic apple orchard that has been in the Morgenthau family for nearly 100 years. Hilltop Hanover Farm and Environmental Center, now a working crop farm and environmental education facility in Yorktown Heights, NY, is a former dairy farm whose roots reach back to the 1600s.

 

Eco-Friendly Farming

With all CSAs, the emphasis is on the land and sustainable farming practices. Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard in North Salem, NY, reflects the high environmental standards typical of CSA farms, offering only GMO-free, organically grown produce.

“By becoming a member of our CSA, you are choosing healthy, high-quality, safe food for you and your family,” says manager Christine Tartaglia.

From its eco-friendly fruits to its pasture-raised laying hens, Fishkill Farms adheres to the practices of the Northeast Organic Farming Association Farmer’s Pledge, says CSA coordinator Michelle Siefermann.

“Our apples are organically grown or certified ‘Eco Apple’ by Red Tomato,” she says. “Our stone fruit is also grown following their low-spray, eco approach.”

 

Diverse Menu

A big part of sustainable farming is producing crops appropriate to the local weather and topography, so CSA members can expect to find seasonal produce in their weekly shares. But many CSA farms also carry specialty or hard-to-find foods from other local farms.

Honey, jellies, maple syrup (in season), pie, eggs and apples are among the locally sourced foods available for purchase at Hilltop Hanover’s farm store, says board member Thomas McLoughlin.

Harvest Moon Farm regularly uses other local farms as a resource to expand the weekly menu for its CSA customers, Targalia says. “Every week our farm manager visits other local farms—mainly root-crop farms, as our soil is too rocky to grow them,” she says. “We handpick from their freshest harvests to bring home and fill our CSA members’ boxes.”

 

The Weekly Harvest

HHF 1 tomatoeOnce the CSA season begins—a date that varies by farm, along with the length of season—CSAs designate a day or two a week for members to pick up their shares. Fishkill Farms, for example, has a pickup at its farm store in Hopewell Junction on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings, and a second Saturday-morning pickup at the Old Stone House in Brooklyn.

While some farms, like Harvest Moon, pre-pack members’ shares, others, like Hilltop Hanover Farm (HHF), have members select pre-arranged amounts, which vary by week according to availability.

“The organic crops are picked that morning, and the Hilltop Hanover Farm staff decides the allocation for each available crop,” McLoughlin says. “The weekly selections are then arranged farm-stand style, with signs designating the amount allowed per vegetable.” CSA members usually leave with two or three large bags of produce that will feed a family of four or more, he says.

Like many local farms, Hilltop Hanover operates a garden where the public can pick their own produce for purchase. Fishkill Farms operates a pick-your-own garden specifically for its CSA members, who can include some of what they harvest in their shares. Fishkill also has a separate milk, egg and cheese share.

 

Reconnecting 

Between the items grown on site and those sourced from neighboring farms, the variety of produce sold through CSAs and their affiliated farm stands (which are open to the public) is staggering. Among the four farms profiled here, for example, offerings range from edamame and nectarines to fresh flowers and numerous herbs.

People in our area are responding to that bounty in a big way. Perhaps CSAs have given back what Americans lost over the past several decades, somewhere between TV dinners and Lunchables: a connection to food and to the earth from which it comes.

 

CSAs at a Glance

Fishkill Farms

9 Fishkill Farm Rd., Hopewell Junction, NY. Second pickup site in Brooklyn

Pickups: Fridays 2-7pm; Saturdays 8-10 am; Saturdays (Brooklyn) 8 am-noon

CSA offerings: organically grown vegetables, herbs, apples, berries, fruits; separate milk, egg & cheese share

Info: 845.897.4377, csa@fishkillfarms.com, FishkillFarms.com

 

Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard 

130 Hardscrabble Rd. North Salem, NY

Pickups: Thursdays

CSA offerings: organically grown fruits and vegetables, separate milk share, plus selected produce from neighboring farms

Info: 914.485.1210, harvestmoonorchard@gmail.com

HarvestMoonFarmAndOrchard.com

 

Hilltop Hanover Farm and Environmental Center

1271 Hanover St. Yorktown Heights, NY

Pickups: Tuesdays & Thursdays 2-7pm

CSA offerings: organically grown vegetables, flowers, “U Pick ” available

Info: 914.962.2368, info@hilltophanoverfarm.org, HilltopHanoverFarm.org

 

Ryder Farm Cottage Industries 

400 Starr Ridge Rd. Brewster, NY

Pickups: Wednesdays after noon (farm) or Monday-Friday (cooler)

CSA offerings: certified organic vegetables, herbs, occasional flowers

Info: 845.279.4161, RyderFarmOrganic@aol.com, RyderFarmOrganic.com