Fresh Starts: Seeking special plants to get your garden going? Mark your calendar for these plant sales.

 

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Stony Kill Farm Plant Sale and Spring Celebration

Our region is blessed with an abundance of small farms, so in the spring, plant sales pop up as reliably as daffodils. There are many reasons to buy spring plants from a farm rather than a retailer, not the least of which is the fact that you’re supporting a local (and often family-owned) business.

Unlike large nurseries or big box stores, local farms specialize in organically grown veggies, herbs and flowers that flourish in our climate—typically offering a wider variety of plants, including many that can’t be found in retail stores. Because these farms don’t use persistent pesticides, their plants won’t kill bees (harming our food supply) or produce food that’s hazardous to ingest.

And because local farms are part of the fabric of our community, their plant sales are true community events—springtime celebrations where families are welcome. Kids love visiting farms, and they learn a lot in the process. So save the date for one or more of the local plant sales coming up in May.

Hilltop Hanover Farm’s Spring Plant Sale
April 26-May 31
Fridays 1p.m.-6 p.m.
Saturdays 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Plants for sale: Cool-season annual flowers, herbs and vegetable transplants, including early-blooming columbine, snapdragons and diasca; organic lavender, chives, chamomile, dill, lemon balm, mint mojito and sage; and naturally grown lettuce, spinach, kale, peas and chard. Come any weekend for veggie, herb and flower transplants, all grown at Hilltop, plus finished annuals and organic herbs.

Family fun: The farm stand will be stocked with local farm products such as seeds, honey, maple syrup, breads and baked goods.

Something special: Look for cottage garden annuals, specialty cut flowers and pollinator plants. Strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers and squash plants, plus lots of summer flowers, will be ready in early May. All transplants produced at Hilltop Hanover are grown using organic practices.

Hilltop Hanover Farm, 1271 Hanover St., Yorktown Heights, NY HilltopHanoverFarm.org

 

Stony Kill Farm Plant Sale and Spring Celebration
May 4, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (Rain date May 5)

Plants for sale: Plants for vegetable and herb gardens.

Family fun: Baby animals, sheep shearing demo, wool spinner, live music, open barn, open greenhouse, crafts, face painter, concession stand and more.

Something extra: Stony Kill Beekeepers will have an informational booth, and the Stony Kill gardeners will have an informational table on pollinator gardening.

Stony Kill Farm, 79 Farmstead Lane , Wappingers Falls, NY , 845.831.3800; StonyKill.org, Stony Kill Foundation, Inc.@Facebook.com

 

Poughkeepsie Farm Project Farm Fest and Plant Sale
May 4 & 11, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Plants for sale: Nearly 100 varieties of vegetables, flowers and herbs.

Family fun: Food truck, live music, smoothie and interactive popcorn stations, craft and farmer’s market offering Hudson Valley-made products, Poughkeepsie Farm Project merchandise including herbal body products, gardening book fair, children’s book readings, kid-friendly activities.

Something extra: This is Poughkeepsie Farm Project’s 20th year of connecting food, farm and community in the Hudson Valley. Visitors are invited to tour the farm fields, meet the team, learn about the farm’s programs and activities and explore its meditation and discovery gardens.

Poughkeepsie Farm Project, 51 Vassar Farm Ln., Poughkeepsie, NY, FarmProject.org/farm-fest 


 

ryder farmSPACE on Ryder Farm Mother’s Day Weekend Plant Sale
May 11, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
May 12, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Plants for sale: Hanging baskets and a wide selection of flowers, herbs and vegetable starts, including 11 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, summer and winter squash, salad greens, sweet and spicy pepper varieties and more, all certified organic and grown on Ryder Farm.

Family fun: Guided tours of Ryder Farm, a food truck for picnicking on the lawn, children’s activities.

Something extra: The plant sale will be the official start of SPACE on Ryder Farm’s first growing season. Plants and produce will be available for purchase at the roadside farmstand on Starr Ridge Road through November.

Ryder Farm, 406 Starr Ridge Rd., Brewster, NY, SpaceOnRyderFarm.org

 

common groundCommon Ground Farm Plant Sale
May 11, 2 p.m.-5 p.m.

Plants for sale: Vegetables, flowers and herbs, including classic favorites like basil, cherry tomatoes, lettuce and kale, as well as more unusual and unique heirloom varieties such as husk cherries, fairytale eggplant and purple basil, all organically grown at Common Ground Farm. Come early for best selection.

Family fun: Children’s arts and crafts, and the opportunity to meet the farmers and ask them about growing techniques and varieties.

Something extra: All proceeds go to support Common Ground Farm’s mission of food access and education.

Common Ground Farm Plant Sale, Corner of Cross and Main Streets, Beacon, NY; Rain location: Beacon Yoga Center, 464 Main St., Beacon, NY, Common Ground Farm Spring Plant Sale @Facebook.com

 

vendorsAnnual Lasdon Park Plant Sale
May 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. May 19,
10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Special preview for Friends of Lasdon Park and Arboretum: May 17, 6-8 p.m.

Plants for sale: A broad selection of colorful annuals, including many hard-to-find and popular favorites that are easy to plant and care for.

Family fun: Vendors selling crafts, food, gifts and other items.

Something extra: A special conservatory exhibit will feature blooming orchids and more. Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under. Tickets available at the Shop at Lasdon.

Lasdon Park, Arboretum and Veterans Memorial, 2610 Amawalk Rd. (Rte. 35), Somers, NY LasdonPark.org

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Eating Right, Made Easy: Skinny Buddha offers chef-designed, nutrition-packed meals to grab and go

skinny buddha

Elyce Jacobson and Shaka Taffawa

Finding a place to eat that is completely vegan, organic and gluten-free in Westchester is an unexpected delight. And that’s exactly what Skinny Buddha is—times two.

Elyce Jacobson and Shaka Taffawa, co-owners of Skinny Buddha Organic Café in Scarsdale and Skinny Buddha Organic Kitchen in Mount Kisco, say they created the business to give more people access to flavorful, nourishing food made from the best ingredients. Both locations offer a broad variety of fresh, healthy items, from smoothies and açaí bowls to hot and cold beverages, soups, salads, wraps, entrees and baked goods.

“Our most popular items are our açaí bowls, our hummus wrap and our kale salad,” Jacobson says. “Right now, though, our vegan chili and soup of the day have been a hit, due to the colder weather.”

While many restaurants are shaving calories off their menu items, Skinny Buddha is about creating delicious meals that pack a nutritional punch. Jacobson, a vegan and certified holistic health counselor trained in Ayurvedic nutrition, graduated from Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School and received further training at the Natural Gourmet Cooking School.

Taffawa is a certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist.

With Skinny Buddha, Jacobson and Taffawa have made it easy to eat well. Both locations are cozy, with limited seating, so they specialize in quick service, whether through made-to-order, pre-ordered or prepackaged meals.

“Customers can pop in and order off the menu, grab pre-packaged items from our fridges or choose from a large selection of baked goods,” Jacobson says. “They also have the option of pre-ordering on our app. They can place their orders days in advance or for pick up within a 10-to-30-minute window.”

The made-to-order menu includes items like smoothies, açaí bowls, burgers, avocado toast and bagels with vegan cream cheese. Soups of the day are also available.

Customers with specific health goals rely on Skinny Buddha’s soup cleanse and custom-prepared meals, as well as its smoothie-based Skinny Fast Plan.

“Our soup cleanse is Ayurvedic by design,” Jacobson says. “It offers six 16-ounce mason jars of soup per day. All of them are vegetable based. Some are puréed and creamy in texture, while some have chunks of vegetables to satisfy the chew factor.”

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Assorted organic, vegan, gluten-free
baked goods at Skinny Buddha

Skinny Buddha will prepare one to three custom meals a day for clients, working within a specific calorie range and making sure the meals are macro and micro nutrient balanced. With the Skinny Fast Plan, customers can choose two smoothies per day from the five signature smoothies on the menu, and they also get a snack. “They provide their own dinner or pick something up from us,” Jacobson says.

Skinny Buddha also produces vegan, organic meals for corporate events and business meetings and caters “smoothie bars” for private parties.

Whatever the food, the guarantee is that it’s nutritious and all natural.

“We work with a few different organic produce purveyors,” Jacobson says. “If we can’t get it organic, we won’t buy it.”

Right now there are just two Skinny Buddha locations, although that might change if popular demand has any sway.

“Our customers are always asking us to open locations where they live,” Taffawa says. “We’ve probably been asked to open up in a hundred different towns.”

Skinny Buddha Organic Café 6 Depot Plaza, Scarsdale, NY Monday 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; 914.472.9646 MySkinnyBuddha.com

Skinny Buddha Organic Kitchen 159 Lexington Ave., Mount Kisco, NY Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; 914.358.1666; MySkinnyBuddha.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farm-Raised Heritage Turkeys Available at Harvest Moon

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Heritage turkeys at Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard

Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard, in North Salem, will soon be taking orders for fresh Thanksgiving turkeys. In addition to farm-raised heritage turkeys, the farm is also known for its fresh-picked apples, produce, eggs, grass-fed meat and cider donuts. It also serves breakfast and lunch seven days a week.

Raised on Harvest Moon’s “sister farm” in Hillsdale, the turkeys are antibiotic and hormone free and pasture raised, spending their entire lives outdoors, says Christine Covino, general manager of Harvest Moon. “Our turkeys are Broad Breasted Bronze, a well-known heritage breed raised for their superior quality and taste,” she says.

For the freshest meat possible, Covino recommends calling the store to reserve a turkey and arranging to pick it up a day or two before Thanksgiving. In addition, customers can reserve holiday pies, including apple, pumpkin, pecan, sweet potato and various fruit pies. Pumpkins, squashes, corn, beets, potatoes, eggplants, peppers and other produce are also available, all either grown onsite or sourced from neighboring farms.

Harvest Moon serves breakfast and lunch daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Some of our most popular items are the Farmer’s Breakfast, which is bacon, egg and cheese on a ciabatta, our grass-fed Farmer’s Burger and other assorted sandwiches and wraps,” Covino says. “Customers can take their food to go or enjoy their breakfast or lunch right on the farm.”

Location: 130 Hardscrabble Road, North Salem, NY. For more info, visit HMOrchard.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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s Work: The New Face of the Small Farm Is Female

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Diane Zlotnikov, Z Farms Organic Food

The face of the American farmer has changed over the decades, from a man on his horse-drawn plow, to a man on his tractor, to a man overseeing other men on a factory farm. Now America is returning to its agricultural roots, embracing small farms run with natural practices. And often as not, the face of that small farm is female.

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Sarah Simon
Farm Director, Common Ground Farm

Located on nine acres leased from Stony Kill Environmental Center, in Wappingers Falls, Common Ground Farm has a small footprint but a big mission. Part of a larger nonprofit that focuses on food access and education, it donates half the organic produce it grows, operates farmers’ markets that accept food benefits, and is working with schools to get more locally grown food on kids’ lunch trays.

Farm Director Sarah Simon says Common Ground relies on volunteers and supporters, as well as partnerships with local businesses, to keep the mission going. Sallyeander Soaps, in Beacon, uses the farm’s organic flowers in his calendula dandelion soap, and gives part of the revenue back to Common Ground. The farm has a similar arrangement with another Beacon business, Drink More Good, which uses the farm’s cucumbers, mint and jalapenos in its seasonal soda syrups. Hudson Valley Brewery is also working on a beer made from the farm’s fresh herbs.

“These value-added producers turn our perishable produce into a more shelf-stable and diverse array of products,” she says.

Simon would like Common Ground to be a connection between the local farm movement and food access in our communities, so that small farmers can help prevent hunger while running viable, resilient businesses.

“Every community needs strong local businesses to provide meaningful employment and quality products,” she says. “Farms are an especially important part of this picture because they preserve open spaces, provide food security in an otherwise fluctuating global marketplace, and offer a way for people to remain connected to their food and the means of agricultural production, which otherwise frequently results in worker exploitation.”

She says it’s important for farmers to focus on the well-being of their workers, and for the general community to be aware of the financial challenges many farmers face.

“The minimum wage in New York State is going up, which is a very good thing but a challenge for many small farms,” she says. “When you look at the price of local produce, it’s important to understand that you are helping support local jobs.”

Common Ground Farm
Stony Kill Environmental Center
Wappingers Falls, NY
845.231.4424
sarah@commongroundfarm.org
CommonGroundFarm.org

elizabeth

Elizabeth Ryder
Owner, Ryder Farm

Family farms were once the mainstay of American agriculture, but the industrialization of farming pushed most families off their land and out of the business. Not so with Ryder Farm, which is proof positive that with tenacity, good management and fair government, the family farm can survive and thrive.

“Our family farm goes back to 1795,” says Elizabeth Ryder. “In 1975, the pressure of rising taxes was weighing heavily upon our fallow farm, and we acted upon a new initiative put forth by New York State in an effort to save small family farms such as ours.” As the Ag District Law provided some tax relief to operations meeting certain requirements in agricultural production, the Ryders decided to go organic.

Now Ryder Farm produces organic vegetables, herbs and flowers, and it recently acquired Red Angus beef cattle. It also won a Natural Resources Conservation Service grant to enhance its pastures for grazing. One younger family member founded an artist retreat center, Space on Ryder Farm, to engage local residents and give them access to the farm. “Space has proclaimed their dedication to keeping agriculture here on the farm in the foreseeable future,” Ryder says. The farm also welcomes farm visits and offers programing that’s open to the public.

By keeping the farm viable, Ryder says, the family hopes to retain the rural character of the Westchester-Putnam area. “That’s a challenge,” she admits. “Our proximity to New York and local transit encourages population growth and the associated loss of open space. I’ve always felt that farms provide the working landscape of open space. A farm such as ours gives people an opportunity to buy local farm products from a known and trusted source, while helping preserve the area’s historic character.”

It makes sense that Ryder is very supportive of other local farmers, whom she sees as collaborators in a greater mission. “We understand that feeding the soil is what feeds the plant that feeds us,” she says.

Ryder Farm
400 Starr Ridge Rd.
Brewster, NY
845-279-4161
ryderfarmorganic@aol.com
RyderFarmOrganic.com

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MaryKate Chillemi
Partner/Farmer, Meadowland Farm

Meadowland Farm is a small small farm, a market garden operated by just two people, MaryKate Chillemi and her partner, Chris Hausman. It is located in Clinton Corners in Dutchess County, on an original homestead that dates back to 1790. Over the years, the farm has been home to dairy and livestock animals. Now Chillemi and Hausman use biodynamic growing methods to produce heirloom vegetables, fruit, mushrooms, flowers, herbs and honey.

“We’re students of biodynamics and continue to educate ourselves on such practices,” Chillemi says. “We use the biodynamic planting calendar and make our own compost, herbal teas and preparations. We are also transitioning this property to no-till, and by next year all of our beds will be permanent. It’s overall better for our soil not to be compacted by tractors, and for our rocky soil, it is the most manageable for our scale.”

She and Hausman lease their pasture to Dirty Dog Farm, whose grass-fed cows provide the manure necessary to build Meadowland’s compost, which Chillemi calls “the heart of the farm.” They are also building a greenhouse on site, which will eliminate the long drive to rented greenhouse space at a neighboring farm 30 minutes away. Future plans include introducing some high tunnels to the operation and improving the farm’s overall infrastructure.

Farming is hard work, physically and logistically, Chillemi says, but it’s worth the good results: closing the carbon footprint, giving more people access to organic, local food, and empowering small communities to resist the encroachment of national corporations.

“It’s not easy or lucrative, but you don’t farm if you’re trying to make money,” she says. “For us, it’s a spiritual journey, one we see as playing an important role in the world. And for that I feel very proud and honored.”

Meadowland Farm
689 Schultzville Rd.
Clinton Corners, NY
914.400.3298
MeadowlandFarmNY.com

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Diane Smolyar-Zlotnikov,
Manager, Z Farms Organic Food

Diane Smolyar-Zlotnikov, M.D., is an internal medicine doctor and endocrinologist who works in general practice and urgent care online, through telemedicine. Oh, and she runs Z Farms Organic Food in Dover Plains, handling day-to-day operations, management, organic certification and even beekeeping.

“It’s my hobby-turned-small-business that I do part time,” she explains. “I turned to farming to connect to the land and show appreciation for its beauty and bounty. Transforming an abandoned parcel that was last farmed in 1940—overgrown fields, falling-apart fences, a totally wrecked 18th-century farmhouse—into a fully functional certified organic farming operation gives us pride and sense of accomplishment.”

The Z Farms farm stand is open 365 days a year, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., selling certified grass-fed beef, lamb and goat; pasture-raised poultry; eggs and berries. It also delivers to customers in local zip codes within 22 miles from the farm (with a one-time $70 minimum order).

Zlotnikov says she was surprised at first by the high cost of running a certified organic local farm—a cost that must be factored into the price of organic produce, making it unaffordable to some people. “We participate in the Farmers Market Nutrition program, both at the Pawling farmers market and at the farm stand, to somewhat help the situation, and we are trying to restructure certain aspects of operations to make prices more affordable. It is a work in progress for us,” she says.

She’s hoping the farm can establish a local volunteering program, which would ease their labor shortage and enable them to charge less for their products. The farm also might launch a “pick-your-own” program for berries and apples, once those crops are in full production.

As a physician, Zlotnikov sees the farm’s mission as educational as well as agricultural. “Ideally, the farm is not only a source of high-quality food but also an educational center, promoting healthy lifestyle and safe environment. We will gradually develop programs and classes for the community.”

Ultimately, she says, organic farming doesn’t just promote human health; it also promotes the health of the land.

Z Farms Organic Food
355 Poplar Hill Rd.
Dover Plains, NY
917.319.6414
zfarmsorganic@gmail.com
ZFarmsOrganic.com

bethann

Bethann Bruno
Farm Manager, Fable: From Farm to Table

Bethann Bruno has been farming for 20 years. When not working as the farm manager for Fable: From Farm to Table, she creates small vegetable gardens and edible landscapes for local homeowners. She also teaches gardeners how to use their land more efficiently.

“I began farming at a very young age,” she says. “I have always had a love of the field and placing my hands in the soil. I love watching everything grow. Seeing a seed turn into a seedling, and then produce a crop, really lights me up.”

Fable, a farm in Ossining, is operated by a strong, close-knit team of farmers who work year-round producing organic, nutrient-rich herbs, fruits and vegetables, including leafy greens, herbs, tomatoes and garlic. They use modern technological advancements such as greenhouses, hydroponics and vertical farming to grow their produce as sustainably possible. They also keep pasture-raised chickens for eggs.

Local residents benefit from Fable in many ways, Bruno says. “We supply them with fresh, organically grown produce that we sowed and planted by hand. They can also come volunteer and learn from us. We can show them how to work the fields, and they can apply that knowledge to their own garden. We can also show them how hydroponic growing works in our 200-tower greenhouse. Locals are always stopping by to volunteer and visit and are full of questions. We appreciate their help on the farm, and we hope they leave happy, with the answers they needed.”

Of course there are challenges to farming, she says. “When I wake up in the morning, my list of daily tasks depends on the weather. And I spend a lot of time tilling the fields and laying the plastic and irrigation by hand. A plastic mulch layer and tractor is on my wish list.”

Fable: From Farm to Table
1311 Kitchawan Rd.
Ossining, NY
914.862.0205
FableFoods.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Port Chester Resident Launches Community Gardens

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Weber Community Garden gardeners

Port Chester resident and community advocate Alex Payan has launched Port Chester Community Gardens (PCCG), a registered public charity in New York State. The goal is to help break down barriers to food access, healthy eating and environmental sustainability while promoting volunteerism and civic engagement.

“As a resident of Port Chester, I have enjoyed helping members of my community gain access to fresh-grown produce through the development of Weber Community Garden,” he says. “I’m proud to be part of the team that transformed vacant land into sustainable gardening space, thanks to the Port Chester Housing Authority.”

Low-income focus
According to Payan, PCCG will use highly collaborative and member-driven efforts to promote access to locally grown food, inform the community about healthy eating and sustainable living, and reuse vacant or underused land, all through the operation of community gardens as well as advocacy and education about their benefits.

In a partnership with the Port Chester Housing Authority, PCCG will oversee the transformation of vacant plots of land into sustainable gardening space, he says.

“By supporting food security and financial savings for individuals, especially the unemployed and those with low incomes, we will equip local housing authority residents with 29 garden beds. That will enable residents to grow their own organic vegetables and herbs, thus supplementing their food supply.”

He cites a study called “Hunger in the Town of Rye,” which found that 11 to 13 percent of town residents are hungry every day, and 85 to 90 percent of them live in the Village of Port Chester. Payan says it’s especially important that residents in the housing authority, who are among the poorest citizens in Rye, have healthy food that they can provide for themselves.

“Our goals are to grow food and forge new community bonds and relationships through mutual hard work,” he says. “We’ll offer neighborhood youth a place to develop and grow through hands-on learning, so they can later share their knowledge of healthy and sustainable living. Port Chester Community Gardens will encourage food, social and environmental sustainability through practice, awareness and advocacy in public policy supporting community gardens.”

A sustainable model
Weber Community Garden was the first of the Port Chester Housing Authority community gardens and a model for future gardens. Established in April 2016, it covers more than 2,000 square feet, with 19 raised beds, four composting bins, a shed full of garden tools, two spigots and a wheelbarrow.

“It is a robust, volunteer-run garden where residents do more than grow food—they grow community,” Payan says.

Last year the Port Chester Housing Authority received a grant from the Westchester County Board of Legislators to construct two additional community gardens at their senior housing locations. Then in April 2018, Drew and Terrace Community Gardens were established, each with five elevated beds, a vertical shed, a 150-gallon storage bench, garden tools and one spigot.

“With the help of community partners and donor support, Port Chester Community Gardens will act as a beacon of permanence and a reassurance that the gardens continue to thrive,” Payan says.

Future plans include tours, classes, a farmers’ market, a composting program, community bottle gardens, Earth Day festivities, a fall cleanup, an internship program and a scholarship fund.

For more information or to volunteer or make a donation, contact Alex Payan at 914.623.3077 or email PortChesterCommunityGardens@gmail.com. Visit Port Chester Community Gardens online at PCCommunityGardens.org or on Facebook.