Five Million Hi-Fives to Greenmarket Composters!

Spring, winter, summer or fall, New Yorkers are increasingly dedicated to building a collective compost pile, facilitated by Greenmarkets and community composters throughout the city.  In partnership with the NYC Department of Sanitation, GrowNYC has diverted more than 5 million pounds of residential food scraps from disposal.  Material dropped off at Greenmarkets is distributed to a network of local compost sites, such as Earth Matter on Governor’s Island, where chickens get the first “peck” of the scraps, and Red Hook Farm, where unwanted scraps are transformed to nurture a new crop of Brooklyn-grown vegetables.   Whether your haul is large or small, we thank YOU for your contributions to this effort!  Learn more about food scrap collections at Greenmarket.    

           

Greenmarket Video Series Produced by Our Name Is Farm

GrowNYC's Greenmarkets have partnered with Our Name Is Farm to bring you short video profiles of our farmers and producers, along with their products and processes. Our Name Is Farm offers a variety of services in digital media and event production in support of small farmers, artisanal producers, and businesses dedicated to the success of the sustainable food movement. Their mission is to create content and curate experiences that allow consumers to feel empowered by brand knowledge, and therefore, mindful of their choices. Greenmarket hopes that through this partnership we can share the unique stories behind Greenmarket producers and their products and help motivate a new generation of young producers dedicated to the continued success and growth of the sustainable food movement.

We are excited to present you the first video of the series on Sugar Snap Peas with Ron Lamborn featuring Greenmarket farmer, Rick Bishop, of Mountain Sweet Berry Farm. Check back for more videos throughout the season. 

Episode 2 - A Stark Summer: Tomatoes are Coming

Big Lift Winners Achieve Zero Waste!

Eleven Recycling Champions schools participated in this year’s Big Lift: Zero Waste contest. The schools blew us away with their uncontaminated collections that definitively showed what studies have told us: 90% of school waste can be diverted from landfills!

The Big Lift challenged schools to reduce waste and recycle as much as possible during one school day, aiming for zero waste to landfills from classrooms, offices, and the cafeteria. The first place organics collection school, PS 130M, achieved an astounding 93.60% diversion rate and the first place non-organics school, PS 221Q, achieved a 57.78% diversion rate. The average diversion of all participating schools in this year’s contest was 58.88%, exceeding the 50% diversion rate for schools targeted in the Mayor’s Zero Waste Schools program.

In preparation for the Big Lift, participating schools planned publicity campaigns that included announcements, classroom visits, pledge walls, posters, and even video “commercials” shown in every class. These impressive efforts increased student and teacher awareness about recycling, reinforcing classroom and cafeteria recycling practices put in place over the course of the school year.

Meet the winners and their tips for school recycling success:

 

PS 130 Manhattan, 1st place organics school—93.60% waste diversion
Best Practice: Principal involvement and classroom paper monitoring charts

Mr. Fong is a first year principal at PS 130 Hernando DeSoto in Manhattan. With all of the other demands of his role, he made recycling a priority. Mr. Fong’s hands-on involvement in the cafeteria as students mastered the new organics sorting routine, demonstrated to all in the school the high importance he places on school wide recycling.

Sustainability Coordinator, Wenmin Nicklas, worked with the Green Team to create a system to monitor and display the results of classroom paper recycling. Once a week, each class received a rating based on how well they are separating paper in their classroom. The weekly rating chart is displayed in the hallway by the main office for all to see, prompting students to look at their class’s rating and strive to achieve “smiley stickers” on each Green Team check in. 

 

PS 90 Queens, 2nd place organics school—87.60% waste diversion
Best Practices: School wide involvement and recycling monitors

At PS 90 Horace Mann recycling education extended beyond the students and staff to include a letter sent home to parents. Custodial staff were key in implementing successful cafeteria recycling, volunteering to monitor the stations until student monitors were assigned. Currently, PS 90 has a monitor system where students from their grades volunteer during lunch hour.

 

PS 221 Queens, 1st place non-organics school—57.78% waste diversion
Best Practice: Presorting at tables

For NYC's youngest students, sorting recyclables can be a balancing act - many are barely tall enough to see into the recycling bins! Sustainability Coordinators Danielle Rothenberg and Laura Arnold at P.S. 221 noticed that students understood which items were recyclable but had trouble placing them in the bin, so they created a system where students presort all plastic items. Each table has a blue, plastic basket and is assigned a student who transfers the plastic items in the basket to the recycling bins. Presorting has transformed the cafeteria by allowing students to focus just on emptying liquids from their drink cartons, recycling them, and throwing out the tray.

  

PS 197 Brooklyn, 2nd place non organics school—42.59% waste diversion
Best Practices: Tackling changes one at a time and showing appreciation

Sustainability Coordinator, Phil Richford, has two strategies for success: implement big changes one at a time and continually thanking everyone involved in making recycling a success. Phil implemented tray stacking in the cafeteria as a first step to reducing waste and increasing sorting. Once students were in the habit of tray stacking, the Green Team focused on making sure students separated recyclables from their landfill waste. It only took a few weeks before each habit was a part of the everyday routine. Now that the habits have been formed, students easily adapt to slight changes in the routine such as stacking the new, round, compostable plates introduced at the end of the school year.

Knowing that none of the school’s recycling success would be possible without the custodial staff, Phil always expresses his gratitude and encourages others to do so. Students made thank you posters for the custodians which are proudly displayed next to school’s Big Lift winner announcement.  In turn, seeing the importance of recycling to the school community, the custodians work patiently with Phil to problem solve any issues that arise.

We are proud of what these schools accomplished on the day of the Big Lift: Zero Waste contest. RCP worked with 90 schools in the 2014-2015 school year, helping them to implement lasting recycling programs. Thank you to all of our schools for your efforts to recycle, for making NYC a greener place for all, and for a great year of partnership!

Union Square Greenmarket hosts Leanne Brown for a Signing of Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day

GrowNYC's Union Square Greenmarket is thrilled to be hosting cookbook author Leanne Brown for a signing of her book Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day on Saturday, July 11 from 11 am to 1 pm. We asked the avid home cook and food-studies scholar what inspired her to write Good and Cheap and what she learned about cooking on a strict $4 a day budget, the average US food stamp budget. Even if you aren't working within a fixed food budget, Leanne's book has delicious, healthy recipes and she shared with us some great tips on how Greenmarket shoppers can get the most bang for their buck.  

Why did you decide to write Good and Cheap?

Good and Cheap started as my thesis project for my Master’s in Food Studies at NYU, and I wanted it to be something that would have a life outside of academia. You know, so that more than my Mom and advisor would read it. I came into the program wanting to spread my love of cooking, and that didn’t diminish with my studies. I have always been infuriated by injustices and I became very interested in the Food Stamps (SNAP) program and was constantly frustrated that the poor don’t seem to have much of a voice in the food movement. 

In short, if you don’t have much money, or you are on Food Stamps, there aren’t many resources to help you do that well. There are non-profits all across the country that are doing great work, but not everyone wants to attend a class or has time to do that. The working poor usually have two jobs and kids and not a lot of time and energy. 22% of children in America live at or below the poverty line! and 44% are classified as living in a low income household. I wanted to create a resource that was empowering, that people could use on their own time and in their own way. So I made Good and Cheap. And since it’s a cookbook for people who can’t afford a cookbook, it made perfect sense to release it online as a free pdf.

Typically, when we see recipes geared toward SNAP recipients or those cooking with limited budgets it seems that they are focused more on the quantity of food each recipe makes rather than the taste or enjoyment of eating what is prepared. In Good and Cheap, that is not the case. What was your inspiration for the recipes that made it into the book and was it challenging to make the recipes so diverse in flavor profiles while staying within the $4 limitation?   

It was challenging, but just required getting into the right mindset. Most foods, even some expensive foods, are affordable some of the time, whether it’s when they’re in season or when they’re on sale. The best thing about cooking is that it is possible to have so many different things with just small changes! It’s like magic. Think about eggs! You can have french style omelettes, spanish style tortillas, bake them in tomato sauce for shakshouka, cover them in chilies, scramble them with rice or noodles. Let alone what can be done when you add sugar to the equation and enter the dessert world. There is so much that CAN be done on $4 a day and while you might eat pb&j some days, other days you can have jambalaya.

You’re absolutely right though. The Good and Cheap perspective is about being careful about the bottom line and focusing on value for money rather than pure quantity. I think that the focus on quantity is a mistake that many budget cookbooks have made. People don’t stop having taste just because they are poor! And no one is going to choose to eat in a way that requires work and planning if it doesn’t have the pay off of tasting great and being satisfying! That’s why I say to buy real butter. It costs a little more than cheap oil, but it adds flavor, and you won’t have to use as much.

What are your top tips for a family that is eating on a very limited budget? Any resources they might find helpful in planning their shopping or meals?

1. Buy foods that can be used in multiple meals. If you love black beans and have 6 recipes that you love that use them, buy ‘em! If you can only think of one way you like them prepared then skip them. For me things I always buy and know I’ll always use are eggs, greens, dried beans and grains, cans of tomatoes and dried pasta. Some will keep forever and I know I’ll use them, and some I eat daily. Figure out what works best for you and your family. 

2. Buy in bulk. It’s just basic economics that buying in larger quantities often means better value. But remember to think about the #1 tip and only buy the stuff you will actually use and enjoy!

3. Start building a pantry slowly. If possible—and admittedly this can be difficult for people living on their own—reserve part of your budget to buy one or two semi-expensive pantry items each week. Things like olive oil, soy sauce, and spices (p. 166) are pricey at first, but if you use just a little with each recipe, they go a long way.
 
4. Think weekly/monthly and think seasonally. Eating well on a small budget generally means buying just a few things and making a few different things out of them. This can seem monotonous, but if you switch up your staples from week to week and month to month, following the seasons, and eating what is cheap, fresh and delicious you will have a varied and exciting diet!

5. More vegetables means more flavor and variety. Put the vegetables and fruits at the top of your list and prioritize them. Yes they are healthy, but they also make meals worth getting excited over! Who wants to eat a big plate of brown?

6. Don’t buy drinks. Simple as that. Prepared drinks are a waste of money. Water is all you need and if you want something else as a treat many drinks can be easily prepared at home.

Cooking Matters, a program of Share our Stength has all kinds of great advice online for eating well on a budget. Also check out stretchrecipes.com where my friend Lauren is designing an app that will help match your budget with a recipes and a meal plan, all using local market data.

What are some tips for Greenmarket shoppers on how to make the most of their dollars at the market?

My tips for farmers market shopping are very similar to those at a regular grocery store. Buy foods that you can use in multiple meals, and if you don’t have much to spend then focus on buying fruits and vegetables, and items in their most raw state rather than prepared foods, some of which can be quite pricy. Buy the local flour rather than the local bread, and the big bunch of carrots and mustard greens rather than the perfectly picked over blends of exotic greens. Those things are marvelous, but tough to fit into a small budget, and you can make great stuff out of your raw ingredients at home.

Another thing, ask the farmer or stand attendant what the best deal is. Just say that you’re trying to save money or don’t have much to spend and you want to make the most of it. Most of them will give great advice! Remember, the farmers aren’t rich themselves so they will know what they would spend on if they were in your position. Take a chance and be open with them and you’ll probably get great advice. Plus if you go often you can establish a relationship and make sure you’re getting the best deals on the best stuff.

What is up next for you and Good and Cheap? Will you keep putting out new recipes or write additional books?

Well I do plan to write another book, but I’m not sure quite what it’ll be yet. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to talk to so many different people all around the country and I plan to do a lot of listening.

The Good and Cheap project has taken on a life of its own and I want to help shepherd it and expand it. In comparison to the scale I’m currently looking at, the appetite for information on how to use limited funds wisely is almost limitless. I want to share more recipes, I hope that leaders in the food world will join with me to share recipes and tips for people with limited incomes. I want all the non-profits using Good and Cheap in their programs to be connected to each other and benefiting from each others experiences. 

I have a lot of big dreams so we’ll see what happens. I’d love to see Good and Cheap, or something like it, distributed with every EBT card. I’d like to see cooking and food shopping taught in schools and made mandatory. I’d like to see classes of kids cooking and sharing lunch together one day a week. I’d love to start a community-kitchen program, like a cooking library where people can borrow equipment and use the space for whatever they want. These kinds of food business incubators already exist and should be expanded, but I’d like to see the same model for people who want to feed their families or neighbors. The same benefits a food business gets from being able to use the big mixer once a week apply to people who would love to make a big batch of fresh pasta and freeze it.

Anything else you’d like to add for those trying to watch their food budgets or even for just any home cook?

There are so many messages everywhere, from our televisions to our grocery stores, that tell us cooking is hard. But cooking is not innately difficult; it’s just a basic skill that requires practice, and the benefits of that practice are a joyful and delicious life! Compare that with packaged foods, which offer little in the way of immediate pleasure, yet cause your health and wallet to suffer in the long term, not to mention your sense of self-worth. If we can change our national attitude about cooking, we can all be a lot more satisfied with the way we eat—oh, and healthier, too. Just start cooking and don’t be hard on yourself. Let yourself be imperfect and follow your own taste, you’ll get new pleasure out of eating if you just let yourself. 

Download a free copy of the cookbook, Good and Cheap:
http://www.leannebrown.com/good-and-cheap.pdf

All Greenmarkets Are Open on July 4th!


photo courtesy of  thelizabeth

All of our regularly scheduled Saturday Greenmarkets will be open on the 4th of July for all of your picnic and bbq needs. You may find some producers that are not present but we do anticipate an almost full line up at each market. The only market closed for the long weekend will be Staten Island Ferry on Friday, July 3. For those of you looking for Ronnybrook this weekend, they will only be at the following markets: Greenpoint/McCarren Park, Grand Army Plaza, Inwood and Jackson Heights.  

Summer has arrived at the Greenmarket so stop by and pick up everything you need to decorate this patriotic American Flag Cake. And don't forget to follow us on social media to see what's happening at all of our markets all season long. Happy 4th! 

 

“¡Recicla, Boricua!” Float Cleans Up Puerto Rican Day Parade

GrowNYC and the Sierra Club of Puerto Rico "floated up" Manhattan's Fifth Avenue at the festive National Puerto Rican Day Parade on Sunday, June 16. The green team volunteers hauled clear bags stuffed with recyclable materials collected from the audience onto the float, giving some 2 million spectators a remarkable snapshot of waste reduction efforts at the event.  Volunteers collected more than 489 pounds of recyclable materials--a 54% increase from last year. 

GrowNYC's free event recycling services included volunteer recruitment, outreach to parade float participants before the event, education on recycling rules and the creation of an event recycling plan to reduce waste at the parade.

 

GrowNYC Hosts USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden

GrowNYC was thrilled to host US Department of Agriculture’s deputy secretary, Krysta Harden, for a tour of our Union Square Greenmarket and lunch on Monday, June 1. Despite the torrential downpour, Deputy Secretary Harden spent plenty of time walking around the market, sampling products and chatting with Greenmarket farmers about the challenges and rewards of farming in our region. 

Harden herself comes from three generations of farmers in southwest Georgia, and you can hear it in her accent. As Deputy Secretary, she has placed a large focus on ensuring the success of the next generation of farmers and recognizes that in today’s dynamic business climate farmers need more than just a passion for the land but also practical business training and access to land and capital.

GrowNYC's FARMroots Director, Christopher Wayne, introduced her to several graduates of our FARMroots beginning farmer training program, including Nestor Tello of Tello’s Green Farm in Coxsackie, NY, one of the very first graduates of the program, as well as Jane Hodge, Karen Washington, and Michaela Hayes, three of the women who now operate Rise & Root Farm in Chester, NY and recently graduated from the program. 

L to R: USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden, Cheryl Huber (GrowNYC Greenmarket), Nestor Tello (Tello’s Green Farm), Christopher Wayne (GrowNYC FARMRoots), Jane Hodge, Michaela Hayes & Karen Washington (Rise & Root Farm),  Olivia Blanchflower (GrowNYC Wholesale and Distribution), Mark Izeman (NRDC), Dennis Derryck (Corbin Hill Farm), Marcel Van Ooyen (GrowNYC)

Additionally, Harden spoke with female farmers from Ole Mother Hubbard Dairy and Apple State Hilltop Family Farm who have worked with FARMroots to implement strategic marketing plans intended to help increase their at-market sales. These women shared their personal journeys into agriculture as well as some of their delicious products. She invited them to participate in the new Women in Agriculture mentoring program that she launched at the USDA to provide a forum for sharing experiences and best practices. 

On a more personal note, the deputy secretary loved the rainbow carrots she found at Norwich Meadows Farm and said turnips are her favorite vegetable. She remarked that the farmers market is one of the only places where you can get them with the delicious tops still attached!

Grow to Learn's How-To Gardening Series

Grow to Learn helps New York City schools to build and expand school gardens that are sustainable, responsive to their communities, and transformative for student learning. With over 500 schools in our network across all five boroughs, Grow to Learn has been thinking hard about how to continue to grow new gardens while still providing the hands-on technical assistance that existing school gardens need.

Our amazing staff have been planning, filming, and editing these short instructional videos for school gardeners. We plan to have a full suite of instructional ‘how-to’s’, addressing everything from building basic gardening structures to safe tool use to seasonal organic gardening practices.

Check out our first two installments: How to Build a Raised Bed and Best Practices: the Power Saw and make sure you check back for more in coming weeks!

Happy Birthday To Us!

GrowNYC, the city's essential environmental resource, is celebrating 45 years of service with a birthday party at our most iconic project - the Union Square Greenmarket - one of 50 Greenmarkets we operate.

Why should you care?

Free cake and cool t-shirts!  Check out our new limited edition t-shirts featuring a throwback design by Robin Willis. This t-shirt could be yours for only $20 bucks at our 45th birthday part in Union Square Greenmarket on Monday, May 18 at Union Square Greenmarket! OR if you donate $100 or more today.

Big thanks to Robin Willis for his fab design. Check out more of his work here.

The Season Begins at Governors Island Teaching Garden

A new season of garden-based programming for public school students has begun on GrowNYC’s Governors Island Teaching Garden.  From April to November, we'll teach thousands of kids about where their food comes from and how to cook simple and nutritious recipes using garden-grown produce.

Among our newest additions to the garden is a solar cooker, made by our friends at GoSol, a Finnish social enterprise devoted to spreading the knowledge of how to build low-tech, high power solar concentrators. 

GoSol is currently crowdfunding to publish free construction guides, launch projects and create an online hub where people around the world can participate in the open development of these sustainable energy technologies. Read more about their great work at www.gosol.org/FreeTheSun.

Last week in the garden, we had a spectacularly clear day and were able to use the solar cooker with a group of high school students. We chopped green beans and mixed them with oil and spices in a frying pan. We then placed the pan on the solar cooker and asked two students to help use the cooker’s lever to move its giant wall of mirrors into place.  

Within a few seconds of aligning the mirrors, enough light from the sun was reflected to the cook surface to cause the beans to start to sizzle!

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