Archive for the ‘local’ Category

red hook harvest

October 20, 2008

This past Saturday my friend Anne and I hopped on our bikes (after the helpful guys at Bicycle Station put Anne’s bike chain back on) and headed down to the Red Hook Harvest Festival hosted by Added Value and Herban Solutions at Red Hook Community Farm.

Truer words were never written

We arrived just in time to get a tutorial from Classie Parker on canning for the leaner months. She showed us how to “put some love into” pickled onions and dilly beans and we sampled some of her delicious canned peaches. Spectators were able to participate by canning their own veggies.

Classie’s puttin’ her love into it

Classie shows them how to can-can

There were all kinds of activities for kids: pumpkin picking and a carving contest, bite the apple on the string, and Halloween costume making from fabric scraps. Families had the opportunity to pet the farm’s chickens (whom, I’d like to add, were extraordinarily handsome).

Pickin’ pumpkins at the pumpkin patch

Here chickie-chickies

That’s one handsome chicken!

Swaying and bobbing for apples

Local restaurants including Applewood, The Good Fork, iCi, and Rice were serving up delicious soups and savories. I was happy to see that Rice sends their compost to the farm in these buckets.

Rice’s compost buckets

Companies like Tri-State Biodiesel, orgs like Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (we rode on part of the new bike path on the way to the fest), and nonprofits like Heifer International were on hand to answer questions and provide information to the public.

Local musicians provided entertainment, local students offered up African dance lessons, and the local farm stand was set up to sell fresh produce and meats.

Some of the entertainment

It was a beautiful, sunny day that brought together an urban community in an agrarian way.

Learn more about canning farm fresh food

bcue: introducing third thursday public forums

October 17, 2008

The Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment (BCUE) launched their series of Third Thursday public forums yesterday, October 16th at 6pm. The series will explore the economic challenges facing the borough in greater detail.

I couldn’t make it to yesterday’s forum (and sorry I’m just announcing it now!), but I hope to attend future events. Stay tuned to BCUE’s website, or sign up to receive their announcements.

“Being Your Own Pied Piper: How the Song of Local Business Will Save NYC’s Economy,” will feature leaders in NYC’s local economy and discuss how our locally owned and operated industries are weathering the recent and ongoing storms on Wall Street. From manufacturing and construction to the food and event planning sectors, learn who and what the anchors of the new “local living economy” are —and how they can benefit businesses and local communities. Join us at our first “Third Thursday” forum to learn more about how strong community relations and environmentally responsible practices serve as capital to support and strengthen your portfolio and neighborhood economy.

Panelists include: Carl Hum, President, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce; Max Carey, CEO, CRD Analytics; Jennifer Stokes, Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership; and Catherine Bohne, Owner, Park Slope Community Bookstore.

Check here for details.

where is everybody?

September 6, 2008

Today’s farmer’s market run was rather unsuccessful. Hanna (downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm) kept most of the farmers away. I don’t blame them, it looks pretty menacing out there.

We wanted to get eggs from Flying Pig Farm. They had none, in fact, nobody had them. The mushroom guy wasn’t there. Our favorite meat suppliers weren’t either. We grabbed what we could — some squash, radishes, a couple heirloom tomatoes, micro-greens, and bread. Looks like we’ll have to rely on the supermarket a little more heavily this week.

The looming storm also kept us from going to a friend’s barbecue, her house a little over an hour north. It’s really coming down now. I think we made the right choice.

growing to feed a community

August 30, 2008

In a city where few people have outdoor space to call their own, NYC community gardens become a gathering place, a sort of communal backyard and more. The gardens feed friendships and nourish bodies. In the Bronx, one particular garden yields collards and callaloo, an example of both urban agriculture and cultural integration (collards are traditional in Southern American cooking while callaloo is more common in West Indian and Latino cuisine). Members of this particular plot, the Tremont Community Garden, gather to garden, barbecue, and organize trips that fund the garden. They also sell any extra produce at a local farmer’s market. [Source: New York Times]

[Image, Liz Christy Garden, © Donald Loggins 2007]

Often, the roots of a community garden spring from an abandoned lot. The Tremont garden and the first city garden, Liz Christy Garden on Houston and Bowery, began this way. Liz Christy, for whom the garden is named, and the Green Guerrillas started the urban gardening movement by, among other things, planting seed bombs in vacant lots. When the lot where the current garden stands presented itself in 1973, the Green Guerrillas dug in — the NYC Community Garden was born.

Want to get involved?

Related links

Related reading

the techie perspective on urban farming

August 27, 2008

It seems to be on everyone’s radar — I’m talkin’ ’bout urban farming. It’s not just for citybillies. Even techies want their veggies homegrown, off the CO2-spewing agricultural grid, so to speak. Here’s the cool tech perspective from Wired:

Innovations from NASA and garage tinkerers have made food-growing radically more efficient and compact than the victory gardens of yore. “Aeroponics” planters grow vegetables using mist, slashing water requirements; hackers are building home-suitable “aquaponics” rigs that use fish to create a cradle-to-grave ecosystem, generating its own fertilizer (and delicious tilapia, too). Experts have found that cultivating a mere half-acre of urban land with such techniques can yield more than $50,000 worth of crops annually.

Read the full article here.

Related posts

the urban homestead, revisited

August 25, 2008

[Image: Just Food]

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about urban homesteading. While catching up on my back issues of Treehugger emails, I came across this post about the very same subject. In Oakland, California, they’ve got a place to educate wannabe ‘steaders aptly named the Institute for Urban Homesteading.

In their words:

The Institute of Urban Homesteading is a response to current interest in food security, localization and self-determination, We are riding the wave of a massive global movement to change our relationship to food and resources.

Well, sign me up! Oh wait, I live in NYC and don’t have a patch of dirt to dig in. Just a minor problem.

[Institute for Urban Homesteading via Treehugger]

Related posts:
Urban Homesteading: Part 1
Urban Homesteading: Part 2
Urban Homesteading: Part 3

yesterday’s brooklyn foraging tour

August 25, 2008

To round out our weekend of enjoying the great outdoors of this fair borough, my boyfriend and I joined a class called “Feasting for Free in Brooklyn” through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (but led mainly through Prospect Park).

Our teacher/guide was Leda Meredith, a forager before she had even heard the term. Having Greek roots — in Greece, foraging is not some fringe activity — going after wild edibles is in her blood.

When Leda asked us, before starting the tour, why we decided to attend the class, my brain froze. Maybe because I was the first person to share, but most likely because I had so many reasons.

  1. What a great tool to have in case our society collapses
  2. If I’m in the park and hungry, I can just start snacking on some foliage
  3. Dining on wild edibles is in line with a sustainable lifestyle
  4. How cool to be aware of the plants around you, and to be able to identify a poisonous nightshade from a delicious allspice berry?
  5. No need to make a trip to the supermarket, there’s feasting to be had all around us
  6. What better way to spend a beautiful summer Sunday afternoon but outdoors searching for food
  7. The food is really free

Though I only managed to mutter something like, “I like food, I don’t want to depend on the food system, bla-dee-bla.”

So here are some of the things I learned on the walk. DISCLAIMER: Please consult a reputable field guide before harvesting and eating wild plants (there’s a list of books below).

Some generalities about wild edibles (there aren’t many):

  • Any clover-shaped plant is edible (like wood sorrel, see image below)
  • All pine trees are edible; in case of emergency you can chew pine needles for vitamin C
  • Any plant that smells like onions or garlic is edible
  • All fruit with a 5-point crown (like blueberries) are edible
  • When identifying plants, always use more than one trait to identify! Sometimes two very different plants can have the same trait (like Elderberries and a look-alike plant, see below)

Specific plants that are edible (and tasty!):

Wood Sorrel (Oxalis)
Tender lemony leaf; pretty easy to identify by clover-shaped leaf and tiny yellow flowers.

Elderberries (Sambucus)
The images below highlight the importance of identifying plants by more than one trait. The berries shown in the third photo are not elderberries. How can one tell? Look at the leaves and stem. An elderberry plant has oblong divided leaves and a bumpy, knobby stem. The second plant below has leaves of a different shape and with a toothed edge.
Elderberries are better when you cook ’em — for pies, jams, and syrup.

Elderberries (Image: Honey Gardens)

NOT Elderberries!
UPDATE: According to Leda, the berries above are a type of Viburnum, and while edible, these are not particularly tasty (even the birds won’t eat ’em!).

Peppergrass (Lepidium)
The small green, tender seeds have a great peppery finish (after a bit of chewing). You can use them as you would pepper, just grind ’em first.

Chufa (Cyperus esculentus)
One of the cool characteristics of this plant is its triangular stem. It’s also pretty fun looking with it’s flowery tufts of yellow/green. At the roots of chufa are tubers that can be eaten cooked or raw and are said to be similar to water chestnuts.

Some plants that are useful for their medicinal purposes:

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
Mugwort can be used as a seasoning in foods and as a remedy to relieve tension or unblock flow (such as stress or delayed menstruation). One of the distinguishing features of the plant is the white/silver underside of the leaf. Though depending on the age of the plant, the leaves can vary from wider and divided (almost like a divided parsley) and narrow (almost like rosemary). The leaves also have a strong herbal scent.

Rose Hips

These babies are high in vitamin C — you’ve probably seen them as an ingredient in vitamin supplements. The orange/red flower has a little tuft of stamen on top. The leaves look like those of a rose and the stem has a characteristic thorn. Rose hips can be brewed in a tea, but be sure to filter out the fuzzy bits.

Plaintain (Plantago)
Not to be confused with the banana, plantago major is also known as “white man’s footprint” because Native Americans claimed that everywhere a white man went he would leave one of these plants behind. (The plant was thought to have been brought here by early settlers from Europe.) Plantain is a natural anti-microbial and is useful in relieving insect bites and other skin ailments. The seeds in the conical part of the flower are the main ingredient of bulk laxatives like Metamucil.

Goldenrod (Solidago)
Often a mistaken cause of seasonal allergies, goldenrod does not even pollinate via the wind but through insects. The flowers and leaves can be made into a tea which can help alleviate sore throat.

Check out more photos here.

Interested in foraging? Here are some resources (as recommended by Leda):

yesterday’s brooklyn bike adventure

August 24, 2008

Yesterday morning I had the hankering for a bike ride. Knowing there were some decent bike routes to get to the Bay Ridge promenade that eventually runs beneath the Verazzano-Narrows, my boyfriend did a little research.

One of the sites he consulted was Ride the City (see my earlier post about it). This is one of those times he utters, “if I only had an iPhone… ,” because we don’t have a printer to reproduce the route for our bike trip. Plus, all of our area maps are in the car (I love maps). So he just wrote down all of the critical turns to get where we needed.

After eating a yummy farmer’s market lunch, we hopped on our bikes and headed out. We rode through the park and overshot our first turn by about 1/4 mile, going out the due south end instead of the SSW end (near Windsor Terrace). But we figured it out and were back on track after about a mile detour.

We rode through neighborhoods we had yet to see on bike: Kensington, Borough Park, Sunset Park. When we got to Sunset Park we went through the park whence the name came. There are some great views of the city from up there (you can see the Statue of Liberty in the middle right of this pic).

[Image: Gowanus Lounge]

From Sunset Park we rode down along 2nd avenue to 67th street, into Owl’s Head Park, a cute little park with a bay view.

[Image: Forgotten NY]

In the image above you can also see the entrance to the promenade that runs along the New York Bay. We entered there and rode down to the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge.

[Image: This one’s mine!]

There’s an exit from the promenade right by the bridge (where we’re standing in the above image), so we said goodbye to the bay and headed up 4th avenue. We stayed on 4th through Bay Ridge, then headed up 5th avenue back into Sunset Park. 5th ave in this part of Brooklyn is not the best place to bike (unless you’re into chaos). It was madness. If I were blindfolded, spun around, drugged, put in the trunk of a car and brought to this part of Brooklyn, I would think I were in another country. Somewhere in Central America. On every block there were at least 2 double parked cars on each side of the street. Pedestrians bounced across the street like Frogger — no fear, no discretion. Latino tunes blared from storefronts, cars, block parties.

Eventually, the madness gave way to industrial serenity as we neared Greenwood Cemetery. Thankfully, the northbound traffic was detoured and we had the entire lane to ourselves. As we rode past the cemetery we heard some exotic chirping. Those are definitely not natives. They’re the famous Brooklyn Parrots! They were thought to have been accidentally freed from their shipping crates at JFK in the late 1960s. The parrots eventually proliferated and made their way to different parts of Brooklyn and other boroughs.

[Image: Brooklyn Parrots]

The parrots blended in so well with the foliage, we had a hard time seeing them (and capturing them on camera). So we moved on, continuing down 5th ave and onto 16th street. We stopped at a coffee shop in Windsor Terrace for a snack and ended our adventure in Prospect Park (via the entrance we were supposed to start our ride from).

[Image: Mine again!]

The round trip was about 16 miles and much more entertaining than riding around the loop in the park 5 times. One of the best parts about biking in Brooklyn (or anywhere in the city for that matter) is the diversity — the culture varies, the people vary, businesses vary to cater to the people of the area. In a matter of a few miles we were in Italy, China, the Middle East, Mexico. Every time the landscape would change I would think, “this too, is Brooklyn.”

best sandwich ever!

August 24, 2008

Step 1. Go to the farmer’s market (if you live in Brooklyn, try Grand Army Plaza on Saturday; in Manhattan, go to Union Square on M,W,F, or Sat.; outside of NYC, try here)

Step 2. Get yourself these ingredients:

Steps 3-12. Bring home your treasures, and get out the toaster. Slice the bread (if it’s not already) and throw it in the toaster. Pick and wash the basil. Wash and slice the tomato. Take that bread out of the toaster. Slather on the goat cheese (don’t be shy!). Place the tomato slices on top of the cheese. Sprinkle a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper on the tomato. Cover that layer with the basil leaves. Pour a bit of EVOO and balsamic on the other slice of bread (be careful not to overdo it, unless you like a soggy sammy). Place that slice on top of the pile of goodness. Slice down the middle.

Step 13. Eat it up, yum!

[It’ll look kinda like this sandwich (this one’s from My Dinner Table. I was so hungry, I forgot to take a picture!)

my farmer’s market dinner

August 19, 2008

Oh man, that was delicious. It was like a gourmet meal. And a majority of the dinner we just ate was made from farmer’s market goods. Here’s what we had:

A hearty salad of sunflower greens, watercress, oyster mushrooms, carrots, and sunflower seeds with homemade lemon-ginger dressing and thai basil flowers

  • Sunflower greens (tender little leaves, see the image at right) were from Evolutionary Organics of New Paltz, NY
  • Watercress, was not from the farmer’s market but sold at Fairway supermarket from a local farm
  • Oyster mushrooms of various colors (white, yellow, and peach) were from the mushroom guy (Madura Farm). He has an amazing selection of mushrooms (lion’s mane, shiitake, hen-of-the-woods). They all have unique qualities and health benefits
  • Sweet, early carrots and thai basil were from Phillips Farms in Milford, New Jersey
  • Sunflower seeds, lemon, and ginger were from Fairway. The dressing was simply fresh lemon juice, grated ginger, olive oil, fleur de sel (salt), and black pepper

Heirloom tomato, lemon cucumber,
goat cheese, with thai basil

  • Heirloom tomatoes (maybe Big Rainbow or Mr. Stripey variety?) and the lemon cucumber (mild, sweet round little thing, see right) were from Evolutionary Organics in New Paltz, New York
  • Capri goat cheese was from Westfield Farms in Hubbardston, Massachusetts (purchased at Murray’s Cheese Shop)
  • Thai basil was from Phillips Farms in Milford, New Jersey
  • This delicious pile was simply dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

It’s amazing what you can find at your local green market, like heirloom and seemingly exotic varieties that you probably won’t find in your supermarket. Eating fresh, close-to-home food like this is not only healthy and tasty, it directly supports local farmers and encourages biodiversity.

Find your local farmer’s market at Local Harvest.

Read about the importance of biodiversity.

Thanks, baby, for making me a yummy dinner!

UPDATE (Or I should say, correction): I had previously listed “Bulich Farms” as the mushroom provider, it’s really Madura Farm. Sorry Mushroom Guy!