Talkin' Turkey

Do you have any idea what goes into raising a turkey? When talking about the birds that have become so synonymous with this time of year, we realized we didn’t know much, either. Luckily, we have access to some of the best turkey farmers in the region, so we rushed right over to Zaid Kurdieh of Norwich Meadows Farm and Maria Quattro of Quattro's Game Farm to learn exactly what goes into raising the centerpiece of many Thanksgiving tables.
 
For Quattro’s Game Farm, everything starts from the egg. They keep their favorite birds from the past year and mate them, selecting the eggs that will go on to be the next year’s Thanksgiving turkeys. The eggs are then incubated, hatched, raised, and processed on the farm. Norwich Meadows Farm also raises and processes on the farm, but buys their turkeys when they’re poults, getting them when they’re newly hatched and raising them from there and from what we’ve heard, raising turkeys is a lot of work. A friend of Zaid’s warned him when he first started to raise turkeys that “a turkey in its first few weeks of life is just looking for a place to die.” Sounds harsh but, in fact, during those first couple of weeks, the farmers have to keep a constant eye on the poults – ensuring they eat their food, making sure they don’t drown in their drinking water, and preventing them from commingling with the chickens. Unfortunately, even with keeping a constant eye on them, a lot of them still won’t make it. This year, Zaid started with around 190 poults and will be processing around 140. 
 
After four weeks, the critical time for a poult has passed and the turkeys are much more independent, although the farmers can’t relax too much. Turkeys are feisty creatures that have a herd mentality and have been known to take down electric fences without too much effort, electric jolts and all. Plus, heritage breeds and wild turkeys fly (domestic ones, not so much). Not far, mind you, but they still fly. It is for this reason that Zaid only raises domestic turkeys. He doesn’t want his turkeys to fly off his property and onto a nearby road where they could get hit by a car. Quattro’s raises domestic, heritage, and wild turkeys but they also have a lot of property and are not as worried about them getting hit by cars. They do, however, end up picking them up from neighboring farms fairly regularly. In fact, on the day we spoke with Maria she told us the heritage turkeys had once again made their way onto their neighbor’s farm and her father had gone to retrieve them. I guess we can’t blame the birds for wanting to spread their wings a little bit! 
 
After they've hatched and lived through the early weeks, eaten well, roamed freely while avoiding colliding with a car or being eaten by a predator and are generally speaking, happy and healthy, it’s time for processing and delivery to New York City Greenmarkets. Both Quattro’s and Norwich Meadows have on-farm processing and control the process from start to finish. Quattro’s is a much larger operation than Norwich Meadows and raises around 400 turkeys so it can sometimes take a few days to finish processing them all. Norwich Meadows processes far fewer turkeys but they are also Halal, so only Zaid can process the turkeys. It takes him at least a day to get through all of them. Then comes the plucking, the cleaning, and the packaging. 
 
As you can see, there is a lot of hard work that goes into raising and processing each of these birds but it is all worth it for these farmers so you can have the best tasting bird out there on your table. The turkeys Greenmarket farmers sell you have lived healthy, well-fed, wandering-outside-in-the-sunshine kind of lives, and they undoubtedly taste better for all of those reasons. Plus, it’s pretty great to know that the turkey you enjoy on Thanksgiving was raised and processed by the same person that sold it to you. You can ask the farmers questions about exactly how the turkeys were raised, what kind of food they ate, and even hear fun stories about the turkeys roaming (or flying) free and they’ll know the answers. When you buy directly from a local, family farm, you know they care and want the best not only for their turkeys but also for their customers.
 
We’d be remiss to leave out how Zaid and Maria celebrate Thanksgiving on the farm. Zaid takes one of his birds to his sister’s house, where she cooks it the traditional method by roasting it in the oven. Turkey isn’t too common in Middle Eastern culture (Zaid’s mother is American and his father is Palestinian), but they still eat it once a year on Thanksgiving. Maria’s grandmother, Carmella (the owner of the farm), has cooked Thanksgiving turkeys for years so it’s just second nature to her. She stuffs the turkey and roasts it. One thing she doesn’t do? Brine her turkeys. Maria explained that the salt in the brine gets into the meat and masks the natural flavor of the turkey. “If you’re paying for these delicious turkeys, why would you want to hide the flavor?” Maria asked. 
 
As we all sit down with our family and friends to celebrate around nature’s delicious fall bounty, let us all remember to be thankful for our farmers and the hours they toil each year to bring us city dwellers fresh, delicious, healthy food. We’re also pretty grateful we’re not going to get a call from the neighbor during dinner to come pick up a wayward flock of turkeys!
 
For more information on our Greenmarket turkey producers, visit our Turkey buying Guide here.

We're Spicing Up The City With The Bronx Hot Sauce!

This is a momentous year for GrowNYC. Our gardens have released their very own product, aptly named "The Bronx Hot Sauce," which hit shelves late last month. The fiery green condiment was concocted by acclaimed chef King Phojanakong, a native of the borough - just like the serrano peppers the sauce is made of. 

Packaged by Farm to Table Co-Packers and wrapped in a sticker designed by John Jaxheimer, the sauce is the result of GrowNYC's collaboration with Small Axe Peppers, who donated 3,500 pepper seedlings earlier this year, and R&R Produce Farms, who augmented the supply for peppers needed for the first production of the hot sauce. R&R Produce Farms happens to be one of our FARMroots program's most notable success stories (the program provides training and support for recent immigrants looking to farm in the Northeast).

With the fiery contents of this five ounce glass bottle, the Bronx officially asserts itself as the next big culinary destination for local food in the five boroughs. "I'm thrilled to see our developers and community gardens join together on this wonderful venture," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. "The Bronx has an amazing food culture, and 'The Bronx Greenmarket Hot Sauce' will only add to the great flavors our borough produces each and every day. GrowNYC and Small Axe Peppers have developed a product that not only tastes great, but also supports our local community gardens. That's a 'win-win' for our borough, and I hope epicureans from all over the region enjoy our borough's latest food creation." Hooray for the Bronx!

Moreover, the funds from The Bronx Hot Sauce sales will go right back to maintaining and developing our local gardens - in one delicious, sustainable cycle. We are proud of our gardens and everyone who has worked hard to make this product a reality. "GrowNYC's Greenmarkets have always been the best source for locally grown food fresh from the farm," says our Executive Director Marcel Van Ooyen. "Now, through this partnership with Small Axe Peppers, we are furthering our support of local farmers by purchasing their products and turning them into a delicious hot sauce that can be enjoyed by all New Yorkers." 

We hope you grab your own bottle of The Bronx Hot Sauce and try it on a recipe soon. It's sure to warm you right up this winter! You can find The Bronx Hot Sauce in these locations, with many more to come:

  • Norwood Youthmarket (Thursdays)
    E. Gun Hill Road and Dekalb, BX
     
  • Kensington Youthmarket (Saturdays)
    Ft. Hamilton Parkway & E. 5th, BX
     
  • Seaport Youthmarket (Thursdays)
    19 Fulton Street, MN
     
  • Union Square Greenmarket (Wednesdays and Saturdays)
     
  • 51st Bakery and Cafe
    5-33 51st Avenue, Long Island City

Learn more about the hot sauce at: www.BronxHotSauce.com

Check out The Bronx Hot Sauce in the press: The New York Daily News and The Wall Street Journal.

A Greenmarket at the Crossroads of the World

You’ve always come to Times Square for the lights, entertainment, and energy – but now you can come for fresh, local New York State products too!

GrowNYC, Times Square Alliance, and Taste NY are coming together to present the Times Square Greenmarket: Farm to TSq on Thursdays from 10/16 to 11/6 from 8am to 5pm on Broadway between 42nd and 43rd Streets.

Complete with fresh fruits, yogurt drinks, jams, honey, maple syrup and baked goods all grown and produced in New York State, the all-day Times Square Greenmarket will give patrons a chance to eat seasonally inspired dishes sold by neighborhood restaurants and sip on beer, wine and hard cider while jamming to live music.  Food, music and family activities will make the Times Square Greenmarket a great event for New Yorkers of all ages. Cooking demonstrations will be presented by Havana Central and The Lambs Club among others, each Thursday from 11:00 AM until 1:00 PM.

View the full market flyer.

Times Square Greenmarket: Farm to TSq Schedule

Thursday, October 16
Location: Broadway between 42nd and 43rd Streets
Cooking Demonstration (11:00AM - 1:00PM) provided by: Havana Central at Times Square

Thursday, October 23
Location: Broadway between 42nd and 43rd Streets
Cooking Demonstration (11:00AM - 1:00PM) provided by: The Lambs Club at Times Square

Thursday, October 30
Location: TBD
Cooking Demonstration (11:00AM - 1:00PM) provided by:  TBD

Thursday, November 6
Location: Broadway between 42nd and 43rd Streets
Cooking Demonstration (11:00AM - 1:00PM) provided by: TBD

Night Markets are back this fall

Fall Night Markets!

Union Square Mercato Notturno: Tasting Italian History 
Union Square Greenmarket - 17th Street btw Park & Broadway (north plaza) 
Friday, October 10th
4pm-8pm

Participating Mercato Notturno Restaurants:
Pizza Moto 
Otaleg!
Otto 
The Pavilion 
Ends Meat
Parmacotto

AND

Union Square Cider Week Night Market
Union Square Greenmarket - 17th Street btw Park & Broadway (north plaza) 
Friday, October 24th
​4pm-8pm

Participating Cider Week Night Market Restaurants:
Maysville
Northern Spy
The Pavilion
Queens Kickshaw
Taco Santo

These events are free and open to the public and hosted in collaboration with the Union Square Partnership.

Workforce Housing Advisors makes a garden grow

GrowNYC is very proud to have worked on making Kelly Street Green come to life in the Bronx. Congratulations to our friends at Workforce Housing Advisors on a great project!

Green Your Halloween!

Green HalloweenWith Halloween 2014 coming on the heels of the BoxTrolls movie, recycled (and recyclable) cardboard costumes are sure to be in high demand.  Even if you won’t be creating one of these characters, we’ve got great tips for greening this season of ghosts and gourds.   

* Make crafty trick-or-treat sacks using recyclable paper bags and paper scraps or put removable decorations on tote bags or pillow cases for an extra sturdy, reusable option. Find great ideas for decorations, party planning, costumes and more at planetpals.com.

* Create costumes from items you already own and avoid purchasing unnecessary single-use items. Find new-to-you ensembles and donate your old ones at GrowNYC's Halloween Costume Swaps on October 25 and 26 or try your local thrift store for inspiration.  Get great recyclable costume ideas for all ages from the Cardboard Costume Challenge and Inhabitots.

* When you're finished showing off your costume, recycle it! Use your building's textile bin if you have one or find a Greenmarket collection near you.

* Compost your jack-o-lantern in your backyard or curbside collection bin, at a Greenmarket food scrap collection or see if community groups and gardens near you accept scraps for composting.  Make it a family affair, complete with snacks, at a Pumpkin Smash 2014 event, sponsored by the NYC Compost Project.  

* Too much candy?  Find a local dentist participating in Halloween Candy Buyback, where kids can get prizes or even cash.  Candy is donated to Operation Gratitude, for inclusion in care packages for troops overseas. 

Spotlight: L.E.S. Youthmarket's Phylisha Conyers

At the end of last month, during the busy season at Youthmarket, we visited our Lower East Side Youthmarket which is in partnership with Henry Street Settlement, whose mission is to ”open doors of opportunity for Lower East Side residents and other New Yorkers through social services, arts and health care programs.” This market is open on Thursdays through November 21st, from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

What is Youthmarket? It is a network of urban farm stands operated by neighborhood youth, supplied by local farmers and designed to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to communities throughout New York City. Youthmarket offers families in NYC increased access to farm fresh food, youth in these areas earn money and learn small-business skills, and farmers in the New York City region continually achieve higher revenue through access to under-served markets.
 


 

It was a hot, sunny Thursday afternoon, the type that makes you slow and lethargic, with the heat like an inescapably stifling blanket. But as we approached the Lower East Side Youthmarket on Grand Street, there was no sign that the summer’s worst had done its work. There was a flurry of activity. Everywhere else along the block it was empty and quiet, but the farm stand was a hub of lively chatter and busy hands.

We found Phylisha Conyers busily stringing together small cards with vegetable names written on them, to be used as signs indicating the type and cost of produce displayed. She agreed to a quick interview while her hands continued to be productive, without missing a beat.

 

 

 

How did you get involved with GrowNYC's Youthmarket?
I heard about the Youthmarket program from one of my Project RISE supervisors at the Henry Street Settlement. I am working towards getting my diploma there. When I heard about Youthmarket, I thought: “Okay that seems interesting!” I mean this is something I've never done before and I wanted the experience.

I tried it out with my sister, Tiana Conyers, who’s in the same program with me. We went to orientation, which was about 9 hours long, but really interesting. So I agreed to join. 

What has the experience been like so far?

I’ve been here since July 10th of this year. It’s been really cool. In the beginning it was a bit overwhelming. When we began set up, there were so many people lined up already - we hadn’t even started yet! But I figured it out and learned a lot along the way, so the customers are always taken care of. The market is open every Thursday, so you’ll find me here!

What is your favorite item on sale here today?

I would have to say…the plums and the kale. The plums are so sweet.

(Phylisha's sister, Tiana Conyers, chimes in) Tiana: Say the peaches. They’re better.

Phylisha: I like the plums the best. As for kale, we never tried it before working here, but we recently tried juicing it and it was so good.

Tiana: Also, the corn here is so different from regular supermarket corn. Frozen corn is like dead corn compared to this! One other thing I learned is about carrot tops: you should use them. People often throw them away but I learned we can make delicious pesto with it. We cook together every week. I believe we’re doing collard greens today.

 

 

In your spare time, what hobbies do you have?

Right now I’m really interested in photography. It would be cool to become a photographer someday. Aside from photography, I also love make-up. I do that for fun, to be creative.

What do you believe is the importance of what you do here? 

Reaching out to the community, to people who are struggling, to those who don’t have access to things others do - I feel it’s so good to help them. People come here and buy their food every week, and it’s so good to serve them here on a regular basis. We have friendly customers and I love seeing them.

The Lower East Side Youthmarket is located on Grand Street between Pitt and Willett Streets, Manhattan. It is in operation every Thursday through November 21st, from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

When cows fly…

You can now find a little piece of the Hudson Valley on your next JetBlue flight. Ronnybrook Dairy’s blackberry drinkable yogurt is available now on select JetBlue flights to California departing from JFK Airport in New York City and Boston’s Logan International.

Ronnybrook Dairy, located in the Hudson Valley in Ancramdale, New York has been selling at GrowNYC’s Greenmarkets for many years and shoppers can’t get enough. Each market morning, they line up to exchange last week’s bottles and stock up on the dairy’s farm fresh Creamline milk and chocolate milk, ice cream, butter, yogurt and cheeses. Long a favorite of Greenmarket shoppers and staff alike, Ronnybrook’s yogurt drink is the perfect snack to enjoy on your next JetBlue flight out west!

Find out which markets Ronnybrook attends here.

Foothold Technology's Volunteer Day: An Interview with Founder and CMO Nick Scharlatt

Grow-To-Learn

On June 24th, Foothold Technology spent the day volunteering at PS 25 Eubie Blake School in Brooklyn.  The enthusiastic team revived the school’s garden area by clearing weeds, building raised beds, and constructing benches for an outdoor classroom. We spoke to Founder and Chief Marketing Officer Nick Scharlatt about his experience.

How did you first get involved with GrowNYC?

I first heard about GrowNYC in 2007, and by 2008 I had joined the Board!  I grew up in the city, just a few blocks from a recycling plant and a Greenmarket, so the idea of being involved and supporting GrowNYC’s work appealed to me. 

Why did you choose a school garden as a volunteer opportunity for your team?

Grow to Learn is among my favorite GrowNYC programs.  It offers what I call a “big win from a small age” – a chance to have a significant and long-lasting effect on kids, starting when they are young.  A work day in a school garden is also an opportunity to get a lot done!  If you start out with a rough plan, big overhaul becomes possible with a team of volunteers.  We can get the job done!  


How did your team react to the idea of a work day in a school garden? 

When I made the announcement to my team, people were really excited – except for one volunteer who had nightmarish flashbacks to weeding as a kid in his family’s garden!  Grow to Learn made working at a school garden totally “turn key”:  the problem was there, the equipment was there, and we were the solution.  

What were some of your favorite moments from the work day?

There was a lot of cross-team collaboration, so people who don’t necessarily ever work together were getting deep into the roots together – literally!  People who didn’t really know each other wound up working together for hours, trying to pull out a root stump, or building beds together.  

Grow-To-Learn

What do you think were the benefits of the work day for your team? The school?

The team as a whole really got behind the project.  As we were seeing how much we got done, we felt the satisfaction of the job well done.  And, talking to the staff and community members at the school, it was clear that, no matter how much of the school is involved, it sometimes feels like there’s never enough resources.  The Janitor said the job would have taken him six months alone, so it felt important to support school gardens by bringing resources, and so much human power, to tackle something and make a big impact there.

Why would you encourage others to donate to Grow to Learn? 

Every kid should experience the kind of space we were able to help build.  It shouldn’t be that only some students get to experience the variety of life experiences, curriculum, and outdoors that a school garden offers.  Grow to Learn gives kids who don’t have many opportunities to leave the city or get a taste of the outdoors a way to learn through nature.  All of a sudden, in front of everyone’s noses, there’s this amazing school resource that we could help make usable.  There’s a satisfaction for everyone who supports school gardens in knowing that with a few hours or few dollars you can change the way a whole school relates to the outdoors.

Grow-To-Learn

Fresh Foodbox profiled in the Observer

GrowNYC's Fresh Foodbox program was recently profiled in a New York Observer article entitled "Overpriced and Underserved: How One Group is Fighting Food Deserts in NYC."  We couldn't have said it better ourselves!

In a city that seems to have a grocery store or fruit stand on every block, it might be surprising to learn that fresh produce is often inaccessible to many New Yorkers. But in areas known as "food deserts," quality produce is difficult to find, especially on a budget. Fortunately, an expanding program at GrowNYC is striving to make eating fruits and vegetables cool, accessible and affordable again.

Each FoodBox includes a fruit, a cooking green, a raw green, an aromatic (i.e. garlic, scallion, onion), and 5-8 fresh and seasonal vegetables. Ms. Tucker claimed that buyers are often surprised by how much food is actually in a FoodBox — enough to feed a family of four for a week when supplemented with grains and proteins.

Although Fresh FoodBox is aimed at underserved areas throughout the city and accepts EBT/SNAP benefits in addition to cash and credit/debit, Ms. Tucker pointed out that areas lacking access to quality produce are not necessarily located in poorer neighborhoods.

"We have a FoodBox [site] on the Upper East Side,” Ms. Tucker noted “… [Participants] are so excited because everything in the area is Coach handbag stores, but you can’t buy an apple."

Read the article!

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