Steven McFadden/CSA book (fwd)

Lawrence F. London, Jr. london at sunsite.unc.edu
Thu Jan 22 13:24:37 EST 1998


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 1998 00:07:04 -0500 (EST)
From: Sarah Milstein <milstein at pipeline.com>
To: "Michele Gale-Sinex/CIAS, UW-Madison" <gale-sinex at aae.wisc.edu>,
    sanet-mg at shasta.ces.ncsu.edu
Subject: Re: Steven McFadden/CSA book

Michelle, while I agree with you that there's deep irony and even distate in
Steven McFadden's appearing at a Barnes & Noble (I don't spend my money at
that chain), there are a few things going on in NYC you might not know about.

>> "The movement is continuing to grow," McFadden says. "People who
>> care about their food, the environment, and their children, ought
>> to take a close look at CSA and what it can do for them and the
>> community where they live. It would work great on Long Island." 
>
>Are the authors and the publisher promoting this book and CSA in the
>Bronx too?  

In fact, Steven is promoting CSA in New York City -- an area where CSA
groups are flourishing.  With the help of Just Food, a number of New York
City community groups have partnered with regional farmers and seven CSA
groups have taken root in four boroughs (none on Staten Island yet) over the
past two years.  All seven groups are doing very well, and we're looking to
add at least three new groups to the list this coming summer.  Of the new
groups, at least two will be in "low-income" neighborhoods (probably Red
Hook (Brooklyn) and East Harlem (Manhattan), possibly in Bedford-Stuyvesant
(Brooklyn)).  One of the ongoing CSA groups is in the Bronx, and next year,
we are likely to help set up additional group in that borough, certainly in
a less affluent neighborhood than the current one.

Just Food does not sell shares, and we don't grow food.  We help New Yorkers
and farmers build lasting, mutually benefical relationships.  The options
we're exploring for 1998 with community groups in low-income neighborhoods
include:

· Establishing revolving loan funds (through local banks, community groups
or foundations) to pay farmers up front and/or cover costs of buying in food
if a farm has a significant failure of some sort.
· Working out "sister neighborhood" arrangements, whereby those who can
afford more, pay more.
· Accepting food stamps.
· Accepting payments on a long-term installation plan.
· Offering sliding-scale share fees.
· Offering scholarship shares, which are usually paid for by members or
organizations who donate a share OR by members who agree to pay more for
their share, with the proviso that the extra funds will go towards
scholarship shares.
· Allowing sharers to work off some or all of a share, either through farm
labor or through administrative and distribution-site work.
· Growing some portion of vegetables specifically for a food pantry or soup
kitchen.
· Donating weekly surplus vegetables to a food pantry or soup kitchen.

Steven interviewed me for the book and is well aware of the work we're doing.  

>Lots of open space there for gardens.  Last I was thru
>they'd torn down a whole buncha buildings.  Big empty lots. Hungry
>people.  Not much by way of stores.  And need for community axis. 
>And for green.  

Setting up community gardens in empty lots is, of course, no simple matter.
In addition to the physical barriers to creating arable lots (rubble
removal, installation of fencing and irrigation, etc.) and costs of
establishing gardens (soil testing and replacement, container building,
etc.), land tenure -- of all things -- is a serious matter.  In New York
City, most of the community gardens are located on city property and hold
year-to-year leases with the city.  As the city faces a growing housing
crisis and chronic budget problems, such garden lots -- the cheapest sites
on which to build -- are increasingly threatened by residential development.
About a dozen gardens throughout the city were levelled this past fall, and
many more are scheduled for demolition, which is a high-priority policy of
the Giuliani administration  (a coalition of greening groups, bolstered by a
grant from the Philanthropic Collaborative, is working furiously to halt or
slow this trend).  As you know, successful food production is tough to
establish on land that is only available for a year or even less -- which is
very probably the case with most of the currently vacant lots.

Despite these obstacles, The City Farms, a collaborative project of five New
York organizations (including Just Food), is helping people who live in
low-income neighborhoods establish urban farms.   The City Farms goals are to:

i.  Improve the availability of fresh food in New York City’s low-income
neighborhoods by expanding the capacity of urban growers to produce
healthful, nutritious food and distribute it to local residents through
established food sites;
ii.  Promote community-based entrepreneurship and economic opportunity
through food production, processing and marketing;
iii.  Strengthen urban markets for farmers by fostering relationships among
city residents and regional and local growers;
iv.  Build public support for the preservation of open space for food
production.

The five project partners are:  Just Food; Green Guerillas; Cornell
Cooperative Extension-NYC; Food for Survival, Inc.; and 
Northeast Organic Farming Association-NY.  We recently received a three-year
Community Food Security grant from the USDA and have hired a community
organizer to coordinate the project as it enters its second year.  Although
none of last year's four sites was in the Bronx (one each in Manhattan,
Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island), one of next year's probably will be. In
future years, we hope to meld our CSA in NYC program with The City Farms and
set up city-based CSA farms. For more info on The City Farms, contact Kate
Sullivan at the address/phone below.

In addition to the partners involved in The City Farms, Bronx Green-Up (the
community-gardening arm of the NY Botanical Garden) and many other
organizations are working hard to make that borough a greener place.
Throughout NYC, there are more than a dozen urban greening groups -- many of
which have an increasing understanding of the role community gardens can
play in promoting food security.

By the way, the Green Guerrilas, one of the oldest greening groups in the
NYC, has generously allowed Just Food to share their office space. 

>Barnes & Noble got a store there?  You bet your boopkey they don't. 

Actually, they do.  It's located at/near Fordham University.  Not that B&N
improves the Bronx, but for the record, the chain is an equal-opportunity
homogenizer.

Sarah Milstein
Coordinator of CSA Programs, Just Food

625 Broadway, Suite 9C
New York, NY  10012
212/674.8124 phone
212/505.8613 fax


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