Mark Bittman to Speak at Bedford 2020 Food Forum

b20-foodforum-emailart-v3On March 4, 2017, Hudson Valley residents are invited to celebrate local food, farming and cooking at the first Bedford 2020 Food Forum, featuring two “food-world rock stars”—New York Times food journalist Mark Bittman and sustainable food pioneer Michel Nischan, a three-time winner of the James Beard Award.

An event for all community members—home gardeners, chefs, cooks, teens, parents, activists, health-conscious individuals, or anyone who wants to learn more about local food—the forum will be held March 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Fox Lane High School on Route 172 in Bedford. Participants can engage with experts about our food system and the benefits of local farms and food, and explore initiatives to eliminate food waste and increase food distribution to the needy.

The Bedford 2020 Food Forum was born out of an overwhelming desire from community members to come together to learn, meet the stakeholders and share information about the local food scene in Northern Westchester and surrounding areas,” says forum Co-Chair Olivia Farr. “Our goal is for each attendee to leave the event with inspiring information and one or two specific action plans relevant to their own personal food, health and community priorities.”

The event is organized around four central food themes: Eat (celebrating and advocating for local food, and exploring strategies for better local cooking); Buy (exploring ways to evaluate, purchase and afford local foods; Grow (learning how to cultivate a backyard harvest); and Share (learning about local food security and accessibility, eliminating food waste and how to get involved and help throughout the community).

The keynote presenters will set the stage for the event’s themes of local food and taking action. The opening session will feature Bittman, a renowned author and self-proclaimed guru in “making food in all its aspects understandable.” Later, a general session will be led by Nischan, who founded Wholesome Wave, a leading organization aimed at ensuring affordable, healthy, local food for all.

“We are thrilled to provide the opportunity for community members to interact with these eminent thought leaders in the world of food. Both Mark and Michel bring an incredible depth of knowledge, a deep passion for local food and a unique ability to help individuals make beneficial food choices in line with their own personal goals,” says forum Co-Chair Karen Simons.

The Bedford 2020 Food Forum will also offer dynamic interactive workshops and expert panel discussions on the subjects of Buy, Eat, Grow and Share. Among the topics are The Skinny on What’s Really in Our Food; The Inside Scoop on Shopping a Farmers’ Market Like a Chef; Increasing Healthy Food in Our Schools; How to Get Involved With and Drive Food Policy; Local Success Stories in Feeding the Hungry Among Us; Backyard Bees and Chickens; and The History of the Food Movement in Our Area.

“With nearly twenty workshops, there will be something for everyone,” Simons notes. “A special set of workshops will be tailored to high school students who want to learn about topics from being a food justice leader to careers in food and agriculture.”

The Bedford 2020 Food Forum Expo, a hands-on display and learning venue, will feature an indoor famers’ market, live cooking demonstrations, a book corner, gardening and composting demonstrations, and lively discussion around food health, sustainable food systems, food justice advocacy, food waste and more.

“We anticipate over 50 expo booths at the food forum,” says Bedford 2020 Program Manager Ellen Calves. “The selection criteria for expo participants requires they provide a highly experiential, hands-on opportunity for people to dig in to local food.”

The $25 admission price includes keynote sessions, three self-selected workshops, the expo and a lunch made from seasonal local food. Students are admitted free, and scholarship tickets are available.

This event is anticipated to sell out. Purchase tickets at Bedford2020.org/foodforum. For more information, email Info@Bedford2020.org or call 914.620.2411.

 

Fable Farm in Westchester Launches Barnraiser Campaign

fableFable, a small farm in Ossining, has launched a Barnraiser campaign to raise $15,000 to expand its sustainable operations. The farm grows and sells produce for farmers’ markets, the New York Presbyterian/Hudson  Valley Hospital, Turco’s in Yorktown Heights, and its Farmstand.
Located off Route 134 near the Taconic State Parkway, Fable grows crops year-round in a hydroponic greenhouse. Among its specialties are herbs, leafy greens, tomatoes, squash, garlic and eggs. The goal of the Barnraiser campaign is to help make healthy, sustainable farming the norm by pioneering the next generation of responsibly grown food and humanely raised chickens. By raising $15,000, Fable could double field production, install a cold storage room, construct beehives and lengthen the chicken field to accommodate 300 free-range chickens for fresh organic eggs.
The Barnraiser campaign ends December 9, 2016 at 9 p.m. Donators can pledge any amount, although “rewards” are listed at specified levels. If Fable does not reach its $15,000 goal, it will not receive any of the funds and donators will not be charged. Find the campaign at Barnraiser.us/projects/help-us-grow-the-farm.

For more info, visit FableFoods.com.

Hayfields Market Is “A New Take on an Old Store”

hayfields-customersHayfields Market, which opened last year in North Salem, is “a new take on an old store,” says co-owner Renea Dayton. It serves breakfast and lunch every day and sells provisions and other goodies, and its menu is a blend of traditional (classic sandwiches and fresh-baked goods) and and modern (world-class Illy coffee and espresso). Or as Dayton puts it, “We have free Wi-Fi, free dog treats and free carrots for your horse.”

The owners, who live locally, get their inspiration from the many hayfields all around town, Dayton says, and their goal is to keep prices reasonable and quality high. Hayfields serves hyper-local products from several bakers and farmers in the North Salem area, as well as local foods from a partnership with Hudson Valley Harvest. It offers a variety of gluten-free and some vegan options. “The gluten-free cheese roll has become a highlight for any sandwich on the menu,” Dayton says.

Although Hayfields is typically known for its summer business, the store will be open all winter long. In preparation for the holidays, the market is taking orders for fresh, locally raised turkeys. It also stocks a variety of seasonal candles and coffee table books for holiday gifts. Show them this news brief for a complimentary coffee or espresso.

Hayfields Market is located at the corner of Bloomer Road and Route 121, at 1 Bloomer Rd., North Salem. For more info, visit HayfieldsMarket.com or call 914.669.8275

Second Chance Foods is Reducing Waste and Hunger Locally

by Julianne Hale

Alison and Second Chance Foods 2Ask any urban American eight-year-old where their food comes from and you will get a quick response: the grocery store. Thanks to the unprecedented efficiency of food production and distribution in the U.S., Americans tend to take their food for granted, leaving it in the refrigerator to rot and buying much more than we can possibly eat. This tendency has resulted in record levels of food waste, something that Executive Director of Second Chance Foods Inc. Alison Jolicoeur takes very seriously. “I was inspired after watching Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO. He did an in-depth segment on food waste and I was blown away when I learned that 40 percent of the food produced in this country ended up in the garbage,” she says. “I was truly inspired to take action and become a part of the solution.”

Jolicoeur’s solution was to create Second Chance Foods Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing healthy unsold, unserved and aesthetically imperfect food and distributing it in an effort to reduce food waste and hunger. “We work to recover food from the waste stream and upcycle it back into the distribution stream,” explains Jolicoeur. “We pick up food from grocery stores, farms and other purveyors and distribute it directly to soup kitchens, food pantries and shelters. We are currently operating in southern Dutchess and northern Westchester counties.”

While a 40 percent food waste rate is a disturbing reality, the number grows even more daunting when the hunger rate in the U.S. is taken into consideration. “One in six Americans is food insecure, which is really a politically correct and watered-down way of saying they’re hungry. They don’t know where their next meal is coming from. That is 50 million people in our country that are hungry, including more than 15 million children,” contends Jolicoeur. “Reducing food waste by only 15 percent would provide enough food to feed 25 million people in the U.S. each year, half of the estimated number of hungry people in our country.”

Hunger is not the only ethical issue associated with food waste. There are serious environmental consequences to tossing out so much food. “Landfills have been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency to be the largest source of methane gas and a large portion of the organic waste in landfills is, in fact, food waste,” Jolicoeur says.

The environmental cost doesn’t stop with landfills. She explains, “We are disconnected from the whole process—all of the resources that go into the production of food: the water, the human power, the gasoline for transportation and electricity for refrigeration. And then there is the bigger picture: the sunlight, the moonlight, the rain, the nutrients in the soil and the animals—it’s all wasted when we throw away food.”

Jolicoeur emphasizes the financial loss associated with wasting food as well. “When you throw away food, you are also throwing away money and, for many, that will be the greatest motivating factor,” she says.

Alison and Second Chance Foods In her work at Second Chance Foods Inc., Jolicoeur attempts to alleviate the environmental, financial and human cost associated with the high rate of discarded food in this country but she can only do so much. She encourages individuals and families to conserve food in their homes using simple, common-sense suggestions. “One simple tip is to utilize your freezer. If you see there are leftovers that you aren’t going to get to in time, simply freeze them,” she suggests. “Having a clear menu plan when shopping and sticking to it can be helpful, as well as purchasing food for a couple of days rather than the whole week.”

In addition to running Second Chance Foods Inc., Jolicoeur is also a health coach. This has made her a passionate advocate for healthy food choices and connecting with the source of food. “What we eat, we become,” she explains. “Our food is the information that makes up our cells. We need to remember that we are connected to our food and the earth and to each other. When we really connect with that truth, perhaps we will value our food more and waste less.”

Second Chance Foods is currently raising money to purchase its first refrigerated truck to help make food stretch further. “We will continue to work daily and weekly to expand our network of donors and recipients so we can rescue more food and feed more people,” says Jolicoeur. “As a country, food waste is one problem I know we can solve if we raise awareness and take action by supporting organizations that are addressing the issue, either financially or by volunteering and committing on a personal level to reducing waste in the home. Together we can make a difference.”

For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation to Second Chance Foods Inc., visit SecondChanceFoods.org or Facebook.com/secondchancefoods.

 

 

 

Pastoral Life on Harvest Moon Pastures in Westchester

Harvest-Moon

by Christine Covino

Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard might be located on Hardscrabble Road, but life on this family farm is anything but hardscrabble for the cows that graze its rolling pastureland.

Located in North Salem, Harvest Moon produces grass-fed beef year-round from cows raised right on the farm. While it is not certified organic yet, Harvest Moon practices organic and natural farming methods.

The animals live very peaceful lives—they’re outside, free to graze, 365 days a year. During the colder months they eat hay the family has harvested from its own fields. They drink water from the same well system that provides drinking water to the homes and retail store on the property, and they do not get any grain or other supplements except for a salt lick and an occasional apple as a treat in the fall.

The farm keeps two separate herds, Scottish Highlands and Red Devons, the latter of which are a new addition and won’t be ready for a year or so. The Highland beef, which is currently in stock at the farm’s country store, is extremely lean—there’s almost no “bad” or saturated fat, given the animals’ diet. Beef that is 100 percent grass-fed is loaded with nutrients, especially omega-3 fatty acids, and it has fewer calories than conventionally raised meat, making it a much healthier option.

The Highland cows at Harvest Moon live for two or three years before slaughter—ample time for them to develop and grow on a natural schedule. In fact, the cows live at least twice as long as their conventionally raised, mass-produced counterparts, as they are allowed to mature without the use of growth hormones, antibiotics and fatty grain to speed up the process.

Inevitably, naturally raised beef is more expensive than mass-produced beef. The corn that factory farms use as animal feed costs less than grass, and the sheer amount of land required to give the herd a constant grass supply is staggering when compared to the cramped, unsanitary feedlot quarters of conventional beef cattle. So given their cows’ longer lifespans, more expensive feed and greater land usage, small, family-owned farms like Harvest Moon spend a great deal more money raising them. That’s why grass-fed beef has a higher price point when it goes to market.

Harvest Moon sells grass-fed beef throughout the year at its country store, which will be open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through March 19 and then seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Soon the farm will be selling shares of bulk beef and pork, all raised on site. Those interested can call or email the farm for more information.

Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard is located at 130 Hardscrabble Rd., North Salem, NY. For more info, call 914.485.1210 or visit HarvestMoonFarmAndOrchard.com.

Grassroots Fall Harvest Fundraiser Dinner at Wainwright House in Rye, NY, November 19, 2015

Grass-roots-logo-for-NBEnvironmental health nonprofit Grassroots Environmental Education will hold its annual organic farm-to-table dinner and fundraiser at Wainwright House in Rye, NY, November 19, 2015, at 7 p.m. The event will feature the presentation of a special lifetime achievement award to Dr. Philip Landrigan and Mary Landrigan for their many decades of work protecting children against environmental threats to health.

Grassroots Environmental Education has been active in Westchester County on issues ranging from pesticide reduction efforts and securing a ban on fracking waste to enforcing no-idling laws at schools. Patti Wood, Grassroots’ executive director, says that “very few couples have done more for the health of America’s children than Phil and Mary Landrigan. They have put the growing environmental threats to children’s health on the radar screens of the general public. Our work at Grassroots has been made possible, in large part, due to their important, pioneering efforts.”

Philip Landrigan is a world-renowned pediatrician and epidemiologist and a professor of preventive medicine and pediatrics. He has been a member of the faculty of Mount Sinai School of Medicine since 1985 and served as chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine from 1995 to 2015. He was named dean for global health in 2010. Mary Landrigan was a longtime administrator for the Westchester County Department of Health and is the coauthor of Raising Healthy Children in a Toxic World along with her husband and Dr. Herbert Needleman.

Tickets cost $100 and can be purchased at the Grassroots office at 914.422.3141 or online at http://tinyurl.com/GR-Dinner-15.

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