February 2012

Regional Grains Project Roadshow

Greenmarket staff shows off some amazing rye loaves baked by Runner and Stone bakery

This winter, Greenmarket took its Regional Grains Project on the road, to spread the word throughout the Northeast about what’s going on with regional grains, and share the delicious joy of locally-grown, processed, and prepared breads, cookies, crackers, and cakes. The tour began on January 20th, when Greenmarket staff headed up to Saratoga Springs for the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s 2012 Winter Conference. On the agenda for Greenmarket and partners from Cornell, the New York Industrial Retention Network, and several other partners was a day-long intensive workshop focused on scaling up the Northeast grains system. The workshop brought together farmers, millers, bakers, and researchers from around the region to discuss the unique challenges and opportunities faced by each, and to explore ways that these groups could support one another while trying to increase the availability of locally-grown grains in the Northeast.

In addition to panel discussions and presentations by some of the most innovative and visionary players in the Northeast grains landscape, the day’s activities culminated in a gathering around a table piled high with over a dozen breads made by local bakers, using locally grown and milled grains. To wash down these delicious morsels, Andrea and Christian Stanley of Valley Malt brought along a wheat wine made by Empire Brewing. The tasting allowed players from all along the grains value chain to appreciate how their work culminates into a delectable end product, and stimulated some of the richest conversation of the day. The next day, Saturday, a wider audience had the opportunity to share the experience of tasting regional grains. Greenmarket and partners hosted a larger tasting event, open to all conference attendees, and featuring an even more diverse pallet of products, ranging from corn crackers made by Wild Hive Farm and Bakery to an unbeatable rye loaf from Runner and Stone Bakery to emmer and spelt pastas from Patty Jackson of I Trulli in New York City. The event was truly a showcase of the wealth of flavors and products that are being produced as a result of an ever-expanding Northeast grains system. Two weeks later, the Greenmarket Regional Grains Project team took to the road once again, this time heading to State College, Pennsylvania for the Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture Conference, one of the largest sustainable agriculture conferences on the East Coast. The tasting event at PASA had two goals. The first was to conduct a blind tasting, where participants tasted three identical breads, whose only difference was the grain used to make the flour. The three grains used—Warthog, Red Feif, and AC Morley—were grown by the same farmer, on the same field, in the same year, and tasters had the opportunity to assess qualities such as texture, flavor, and aroma. This blind tasting was part of the Value Added Grains Project’s goal of using consumer input to guide the production of local and organic grains. In addition to the blind tasting, the Value Added Grains Project also hosted a general tasting, much like the one at NOFA. Over a hundred people turned out to sample hits like blueberry buckwheat cake made by Elizabeth Dyck at OGRIN, einkorn flatbreads baked by Greenmarket’s own June Russell, and a variety of other delicious, local products.

David Rowley of Monkshood Nursery on salad shoots, Hurricane Irene, and more

Monkshood Nursery’s summer selection of cherry tomatoes, herbs and greens has earned a loyal following of customers at the Columbia (Sunday) and Jackson Heights Greenmarkets. This winter, farmer David Rowley has joined the Saturday line-up at Union Square, bringing with him a terrific variety of salad shoots—the perfect greenery to add a little lift to your local winter diet. First of all, can you clear us up on the difference between shoots and sprouts? The shoots are the aerial part of the plant that grows just above the soil—just the first leaves. A sprout includes the seed, the root and beginning of the shoot. Can you explain how you grow them, and when they’re harvested? Our shoots are grown in the greenhouse. First you soak the seeds, then distribute them on trays of potting soil. Then they’re kept in the dark for an amount of time that varies, depending on the variety. Then, we expose them to the sun, and again, the length of time depends on the variety. Finally, we cut them with clean scissors, bag them up, and bring them to market. From seed to finished product, the whole process ranges from eight days to three weeks, taking less time in the summer than in the winter, and of course, depending on which kind of shoot you’re growing. It’s amazing—such a vibrant thing—to see all those seeds germinating so close together at the same time in the greenhouse. How many varieties are you growing now? Seven. And which varieties are new to you this year? Oriental spicy mustard, arugula, and mung bean shoots. And those (the mung bean shoots) are fantastic! I eat them straight off the tray. If I’m making eggs, I just sprinkle them on top for breakfast, or add them to a sandwich at lunch, and I can have them in a salad at dinner. A little goes a long way—the flavor is very intense. What gave you the idea to branch off in a new direction with these products? It was the year of the tomato blight, a really wet year, and we had to come up with products to account for the loss of tomatoes to keep both our CSA members and customers happy. So we started to think about what kind of salads we could produce. We determined by trial and error what grows well at Monkshood. What do shoots offer your diet in the months when local eating relies heavily on squash, root vegetables, grains and proteins? Nutritional information on each variety of shoot is available at the market for shoppers to peruse while they taste the different products. Mung been shoots, for instance, are a great source of protein, Vitamins B and C, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and amino acids. How do you approach selling in the market during the winter? In the winter, the temps are beneath freezing, and the salads and shoots all have to be kept above freezing at all times. When we thought about selling them the first winter we grew them, we thought ‘What do we need here (to sell at market)? Walls? Heat?’ We made an environment at our outdoor market stand that’s almost like a shop. It’s comfy for the shoots, protected by walls and kept warm enough with a heater, and it’s also comfy for us. The vibe in there feels kind of like it does in the greenhouse at the farm. My motto for customers is: ‘Try before you buy.’ Mix and match your greens—it’s like a salad bar. Or, really, a salad booth. You were hit pretty hard by Hurricane Irene this past fall, how did you adjust your business to continue coming to market? We moved the majority of our salad production from where it had been on the farm, and we’ve just about finished construction on a new greenhouse—with many thanks to the help of my neighbor, a land owner. It’s half an acre in total. We started to build the greenhouse in the end of December, and expect to put the first shoots in it in the beginning of March. Outside of the greenhouse, what’s the first sign on the farm that spring is coming? We’ll start to see green garlic coming up in the ground. See the photo below—that garlic is already peeping through!

Spring Cleaning is Even Greener with NYC SAFE Disposal Events

New Yorkers generate about 8,500 tons of so-called Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) each year, not to mention what we store in basements and under our kitchen sinks.

Thanks to a new annual collection program, residents can safely dispose of hazardous substances such as household cleaners, mothballs, hobby supplies, glues, nail polish, batteries, paint, pesticides, medicine and more at the NYC Department of Sanitation’s NYC SAFE Disposal Events coming to each borough this spring.

Can’t make it to an event? Find everyday safe disposal options on GrowNYC’s Recycling Resources page. Finally, avoid disposal problems by learning to reduce toxins in your home.

Grow to Learn NYC turns 1 and registers its 200th School

We're proud to report that Grow to Learn NYC: the Citywide School Gardens Initiative has just celebrated its first anniversary. A public/private partnership between GrowNYC, the Mayor’s Office to Advance New York City, and GreenThumb, NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, Grow to Learn was created to inspire, create and maintain gardens in every public school in New York City. Offering mini-grants, free materials and technical expertise to registered gardens, Grow to Learn helps school gardeners create gardens that can be utilized as outdoor classrooms and indoor living labs.

We're also proud that we've just registered our 200th school garden. From the southern tip of Manhattan to the northern reaches of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, school gardens of all shapes and sizes are flourishing. Teachers are able to utilize the gardens to help students apply what they have learned in the classroom to everything from science and math to foreign languages, nutrition, health and even music. After-school programs in urban planning, environmental studies and urban farming are able to utilize the gardens as teaching tools, and summertime gardening programs are able to continue to harvest fresh vegetables through the peak growing season. Students report that they feel more enthusiastic about learning when they can see how it applies in "the real world," teachers report that the students feel a deep sense of personal responsibility and pride that their school has a garden and an overall greater interest in subjects where the garden is utilized. We are also told that having a school garden creates a sense of community within the school and also with the community at large as neighbors stop by to find out what the kids are doing in the garden.

Don’t see your school garden on the list or want to start one at your school? Visit Grow to Learn to read all about the benefits of registration at our website www.growtolearn.org, view Success Stories for some inspiration about what a school garden can look like, or get Step-by-Step help to learn how to start a garden at a school of your own. You can also find us on Facebook!

Starting a school garden is an incredibly rewarding endeavor; get started now and perhaps yours can be garden #201!

2/7 Bowling Green Greenmarket rescheduled due to Giants ticket-tape parade

The Tuesday, February 7th Bowling Green Greenmarket will be rescheduled for Wednesday, February 8th due to the scheduled ticker-tape parade through downtown Manhattan. Congrats, Giants!

We Need a New Tagline!

You know us best. You see us in your neighborhood leading recycling workshops, operating farmers markets, collecting textiles and food scraps for recycling and compost, and engaging NYC school kids in restoration projects. We are your resource for making New York City a greener, healthier City. Come up with a short, action-oriented tagline or even 4 or 5 words you associate us with. Tell us how you and GrowNYC work together to improve our city. If we pick your tagline, we’ll give you a shout-out on our blog and on Facebook and will give you a great prize! Email your submissions to ideas@grownyc.org.

Deadline: Feb. 29