Ground Breaking Bread Baking

In late-February, when Greenmarket farmers could still claim they were in ‘winter hibernation,’ Thor Oeschner and Erik Smith of Farmer Ground Flour and Cayuga Pure Organics snuck away from their farms in the Finger Lakes to make an appearance at the Brooklyn Kitchen. Each presented a series of slides that documented the process that takes place from seed to market to bring local grain and flour down to sell to city customers. It wasn’t so many years ago that they started selling their products at Greenmarket to begin with, and now their whole grains like freekeh and emmer appear on the menu at places like the John Dory Oyster Bar and have graced the airwaves on National Public Radio. With a burgeoning market for their products in the city, their business has been able to expand, meaning new equipment, new varieties in the field and luckily for us, many new loaves of bread around town. Earlier this week, 75 bread baking enthusiasts from around the city made their way out of the woodwork (okay, their pint sized city kitchens) to share what they’ve been concocting with local flour. Into the Home Baker’s Meet-up streamed carefully wrapped loaves of hard red wheat sourdough, whole wheat levain, honey whole wheat, Irish soda bread, sourdough topped with flax, nigella sesame, celery and mustard seeds, and thin sheets of einkorn flatbread, among many, many others. Bakers eagerly shared recipes and ideas: how to use fermented apple peels to make sourdough starter, or how to make a rye and pickle loaf (again, nice and sour). People talked about experimenting with the local flour available at farmstands like Oak Grove Plantation, Cayuga Pure Organics and Wild Hive Bakery to make monkey bread and pizza dough.

Professional bakers Sharon Leader of Bread Alone, Terrence Geary of Orwasher’s and Peter Endriss of Runner and Stone talked to the group about what the introduction of local flour to the market over the last few years has meant to their respective businesses. They have adjusted long-standing recipes and invented new ones based on the products that are now available. And they’re literally buying tons. Turning from the commodity hard wheat crop from big mills in the Midwest, these bakers have figured out how to work with varieties that grow well in our immediate surroundings like spelt, einkorn, buckwheat and triticale while still meeting customers’ expectations for superior taste and quality, and at the same time introducing them to products they have never tasted before. Gable Erenzo of Tuthilltown Spirits has embraced regional grain in liquid form: we love him for his excellent Hudson Baby Bourbon, but in the distillery’s reserve he’s got trial bottles of spirits made of triticale and whatever else he can get his hands on. We can’t wait to taste what makes it to the top shelf. Visit our collection of recipes < http://www.grownyc.org> for inspiration to start baking on your own with local grains!

Recycling Volunteer Profile: Michael Mullaley

We asked some questions to Michael Mullaley, age 25, an Office of Recycling Outreach & Education volunteer who has been volunteering with us almost every weekend and who has made promoting composting a passion of his ever since moving to NYC from Oregon. Check out our conversation on his volunteerism! OROE: What prompted you to volunteer with OROE? Michael: I majored in Environmental Studies in college and have been doing various conservation work over the last couple years. After moving to New York City, I wanted to learn about, and get involved with, environmental organizations here and some of the work that they are doing. OROE’s volunteer opportunities to get out on the ground, talk to people and help educate them about recycling and composting really appealed to me. Also, I wanted to personally learn more about recycling in NYC since guidelines are a little more specific here than back in Oregon. OROE: What was your best experience volunteering with OROE so far? Michael: I have two. I really enjoy working up at Inwood because of the sense of community that is generated at a farmers market. All the community members make me feel right at home. The other best experience came when I tabled at the Chinese New Year recycling event. It was very exciting to see the young kids get enthusiastic about the recycling game, and was quite impressive how quickly they picked up all the various details. OROE: Have you always been a recycling enthusiast? Michael: Definitely. I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, where recycling is second-nature. There are much fewer recycling-specific constrictions on items, which makes the overall experience simpler and less confusing. The city’s recycling infrastructure is very well organized too.

OROE: What’s your environmental policy? Michael: Try and do things that limit my ecological footprint, which means becoming more aware of my actions and its impact on my surroundings. Develop sustainable habits in your everyday life (ie energy and water conservation, public transportation, recycling, collecting food scraps, buying less “stuff”), while trying to get involved with groups and organizations to have a greater environmental impact. Also, it has become a passion and priority to just get out and enjoy nature. Not only is it a chance to revel in the many gorgeous American landscapes, but it helps to put a face on that which is threatened by anthropogenic actions, and why it is so important to conserve, protect and fight for ecosystems. OROE: What’s your personal philosophy? Michael: Always be kind, work hard, and be open to new experiences. OROE: What is your favorite thing about living in New York? Michael: The wide diversity of people, cultures and languages here are incredible. I also love the public transportation, city parks and the surprisingly large amount of community gardens. OROE: What is your favorite thing about volunteering in New York? Michael: Meeting all sorts of people and listening to their individual stories. OROE: Has volunteering with OROE helped you see New York or New Yorkers in a different light? Michael: New York is more sustainable than people give it credit for. But there is still plenty of recycling and compost education to be done! OROE: What upcoming events are you signed on to volunteer for with OROE? Michael: Compost collection at Inwood, and Earth Day recycling education. OROE: What are the benefits of volunteering with OROE? Michael: You get to talk to people about environmental issues and help empower them to take action. In general, you have a chance to give back to the community, support a cause you believe in, gain additional experience you might not have had, and, of course, meet people.

The Northeast Grainshed: 2011 Season in Review – Part 2: Processing and Infrastructure

While grain farmers in the Northeast grappled with rainy weather and growing demand for regional grains in 2011, off the farm, millers and processors worked to keep up with the expanding popularity of locally-produced flours, malts, and other products throughout this past year. This meant both challenges and exciting new additions to the region’s grain infrastructure. The relative newness of the small-scale grain system in the Northeast presents some challenges to scaling up. According to Glenda Neff of the Farm to Bakery project, almost all of the mills currently processing locally-grown grains are fairly new, small, stone mills. Few have the equipment to test for grain quality, so they have to send out samples to labs to check such characteristics as protein level and falling rate. In addition, access to equipment for post-harvest cleaning is limited; an increasing number of small-scale mills are considering how to add this to their set up.

Another challenge to infrastructure is the lack of additional processing equipment for those grains needing specialized processing, like oats. Cut oats need to be steamed and processed, so that the oils in them don’t go rancid. Currently, the set up to do this on a regional scale is largely lacking. Likewise, de-hulling equipment for grains like spelt and emmer is available in only a few locations throughout the region. Only two mills have de-hulling equipment, and process grains that need the hulls removed as a service for other farmers and millers in the region. Wild Hive Farm and Mill is one such processor hoping to provide this service. The need for growth in infrastructure creates an opportunity for scaling up, and 2011 marked a year of significant growth for the Northeast grainshed. According to miller Gregory Mol, for example, over the past six months Farmer Ground Flour has been purchasing additional equipment to expand its grinding capacity from 300 pounds per hour to an eventual 800 pounds per hour. Mol, who describes milling as a process of grinding and sifting, is adding a bigger stone mill and a couple more sifters to his facility. Some of the equipment was purchased used from the old Hodgson Mill facility, a national-scale processer of whole grain and organic products. Mol expects that, once the equipment is fully installed, his increased production capacity will lead to an eventual need for more storage space. Wild Hive Farm and Mill also greatly expanded its processing capacity in 2011. Owner Don Lewis previously operated one 20-inch mill, and in 2011 added a 30-inch mill and a 16-inch mill. This meant he more than doubled his capacity. The addition of the smaller mill also means he can do more specialized orders for smaller clients. Like Farmer Ground Flour, Wild Hive’s “new” equipment was actually purchased used; according to Lewis, used equipment is preferable, since factory standards are low so new equipment often needs significant work to get it functioning properly. Wild Hive Farm and Mill expects to continue expanding in 2012, opening to the public for tours and educational programming. Valley Malt is another processor who made great strides in scaling up in 2011. As one of only a handful of micro-malting facilities in North America, Valley Malt is a pioneer in grain processing in the Northeast. The business started in 2010 when owner Andrea Stanley and her husband, Christian, started looking into establishing their own micro-brewery using all local ingredients. What they quickly discovered was that locally-grown grains would need to be malted before brewing, and the closest malt-house—in Wisconsin—required a minimum order of 30 tons of grain. The Stanleys decided this was a gap that needed filling, and decided to become the first small-scale malt house in the Northeast. This past year, Valley Malt made some exciting additions to their business. One highlight is their Brewers Supported Agriculture program. Eight breweries bought shares of the field where Valley Malt’s barley is grown (the company works extremely closely with farmers like Klaus Martens to produce food-quality barley with appropriate characteristics for malting), and then received distributions of malt throughout the season. One participating brewer commented that adding Valley Malt’s product to their mash caused an immediate reaction to their senses. The aromas produced by the local malt were so distinct and delicious that brewers were taken aback. To Andrea, this highlights not only the growth in awareness for locally-produced grain products; it also affirms the need to make local products that are superior in quality. Like Farmer Ground Flour, Valley Malt expects continued growth in 2012. The company will shut down its equipment for the first two weeks of March to install a new system, which will allow them to increase production from 1 ton of malt per week to 4 tons weekly. This will allow Valley Malt to catch up, to some degree, to current demand. Re-building the regional grainshed has meant a lot of creativity and self-sufficiency. Christian Stanley, an engineer by training, designed the malt vessel for Valley Malt, and did the installation and mechanization work himself. At NOFA-NY’s winter conference in January, a workshop led by R.G. Bell, Tim Baty, and Robert Perry covered small-scale grain cleaning, storage, and milling; a major focus of the workshop was how small-scale equipment can be fashioned out of easily-accessible and re-purposed materials. Finally, growth in 2011 could be seen in the expansion of local-scale distilling in and around New York City. A number of new distilleries opened up this past year, many of whom proudly use local grains in their product. Stay tuned for Seasonal Updates Part 3 – Regional Grains Retail for more on local distilleries.

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

Greenmarket Farmers Receive Hurricane Relief Funds

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee and the destruction caused by flooding throughout our farming region, GrowNYC and Greenmarket reached out to our community of support with the goal of raising funds to support assist the most impacted Greenmarket Farmers.

Immediately upon launching this campaign the public responded in such force that we were completely blown away: financial donations, offers of in-kind support to assist with on-farm clean up, as well as professional services, ranging from legal work to marketing support started pouring in. We are thrilled to have raised a total of $85,000 to date (January 2012); Thank you.

On November 22, 2011 our first round of Greenmarket Relief Fund Awardees were announced. $63,000 was distributed to 29 farmers. In February 2012 all remaining funds will be distributed among this group. The following list of farmers and we at GrowNYC and Greenmarket are incredibly grateful for your incredible generosity and will be, in part, continuing farming, in part, because of it. Your contributions will allow farmers such as Alex Paffenroth to pay contractors to remove debris from ditches, Kira Kinney to purchase seeds for the 2012 growing season, John Gorzynski to pay for tractor repairs, and Gary Glowaczewski’s fuel bills. The list goes on: fence repairs, greenhouse supplies, animal feed, new chickens, and much much more.

GrowNYC and Greenmarket staff are truly heartened by your support, and we thank you for supporting our farmers not only during times of crisis, but every week at your neighborhood market.

Greenmarket Relief Fund Awardees:

Troncillito Farms
The River Garden
Monkshood Nursery
Tamarack Hollow Farm
Rogowski Farm
NFDP Staten Island Family Farm
NFDP Conuco Farms
Lucky Dog Farm
Bradley Farms
J Glebocki Farms LLC
Morgiewicz Produce
Paffenroth Gardens
Gorzynski Ornery Farm
J & A Farm
D`Attolico's Organic Farm

Evolutionary Organics
John D Madura Farm
Tundra Brewery
Nine-Jay Nurseries
Muddy River Farm LLC
R & G Produce LLC
NFDP Jersey Farm Produce
NFDP R&R Produce
NFDP Mimomex Farm
NFDP El Mirador Farm
NFDP Fresh Radish Farm
NFDP Gonzalez Farm
NFDP Perez Market
NFDP Pavia Family Farm

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