GrowNYC FreshConnect Information Session

January 28, 2021
Posted in GrowNYC

GrowNYC is happy to announce our Spring 2021 Training Series!

This free training is available to nonprofit organizations and community groups interested in operating a food box or farm stand in their neighborhoods. Organizations are invited to join us for an informational session on April 6 from 4-5 PM. This overview will help organizations determine which model is the right fit for them. We will provide general FreshConnect background, details about ordering produce through GrowNYC Wholesale, and highlight the differences between a farm stand and a food box. The info session is not required, but if you're still deciding if you'd like to run a farm stand or a food box, this will help you understand the differences and make your decision.

All training sessions are remote via Zoom.

April 20 from 4-5 PM, Farmstand Training 
April 23 from 4-5 PM, Fresh Food Box Training 

Register for our first information session here.  

Goodbye Plastic T-Shirt Bags April 1!

January 28, 2021
Posted in Greenmarket

Beginning April 1, GrowNYC Greenmarkets, Farmstands, and Fresh Food Box locations are banning single-use plastic t-shirt bags.

What is banned?

Greenmarket Producers, Farmstands, and Fresh Food Box locations will no longer be providing single-use plastic and compostable bags with handles.

Tips for going plastic-free: 

1. BYOBs! Bring your own reusable tote and produce bags while shopping. Don't forget to pack a big general tote bag and smaller bags and containers for individual items.    

2. Carry a few extra reusable totes with you at all times.  

3. Reduce before you reuse or recycle. It costs money and energy to produce and recycle plastic bags. 

4. Take the Commit to Bring It Pledge to bring your own mugs, water bottles, shopping bags.

 

GrowNYC Virtual Seasonal Job Fair March 31

January 28, 2021
Posted in GrowNYC

Every day, GrowNYC employees see first-hand the impact they have on the environment and the lives of New Yorkers in all five boroughs. We’re a non-profit organization founded 50 years ago, and we operate farmers marketsFarmstands, Fresh Food Box sitesfood scrap collections, and more.

We hire many seasonal staff starting in the early spring.

If you are interested in working for this dynamic organization to provide fresh food for all and reduce New York City's carbon footprint, join our job fair and meet our team!

At the GrowNYC Virtual Seasonal Job Fair, you will meet staff from each of our programs, hear more about seasonal jobs available at GrowNYC, and get a chance to ask questions about working with GrowNYC.

GrowNYC Seasonal Job Fair
Wednesday, March 31
6-7pm
FREE event, please register here.

Job Requirements:

  • We are looking for early-risers who can work outside in various weather conditions and lift heavy equipment.
  • Age 18+
  • Available May - November, including weekend days

Additional Skills Valued (but not required):

  • Proficient in languages other than English
  • Valid New York State Drivers license, and an interest in driving in NYC

GrowNYC positions (seasonal and otherwise) and Greenmarket farm and farm stand job opportunities are posted here: 
GrowNYC job opportunities and Greenmarket farm and farm stand job opportunities.

 

GrowNYC Celebrates Black History Month

January 27, 2021
Posted in GrowNYC

GrowNYC Celebrates Black History Month

February 2021 marks the 45th annual Black History Month. To close our month-long observance of Black History, we happily feature some of the incredibly hardworking and talented staff that make up GrowNYC. Get to know:

  • Tutu, Greenmarket Youth Engagement Coordinator
  • Diante, GrowNYC's Executive Assistant
  • Chantel, Garden Coordinator
  • Akhmose, Fresh Food Box and Greenmarket Team Member

All share their thoughts and experiences as Black individuals navigating environmental and food access spaces, including challenges they have faced.

Tutu Badaru 

Please introduce yourself and describe what you do at GrowNYC.

Tutu Badaru, she/her are my preferred pronouns. I identify as an African woman who was born and raised in Kampala, Uganda. I moved to New York seven years ago to go to grad school and was only supposed to stay for two years. However, somewhere in those two years, I fell in love with the city and its people, so I decided to stay. 

Getting a job at GrowNYC was one of the reasons I decided to stay. I was lucky enough to find a job that combined my professional expertise with my life’s passions. In my role as the Greenmarket Youth Engagement coordinator, I am part of a team that creates a learning environment in our Greenmarkets where students K-12 can engage with locally grown food and its growers. Our fun, interactive Greenmarket School Tours help children gain an understanding of farming in our region and how their food choices impact their bodies, their communities, and their environment.

Do you have certain passions that drew you to your current work?

I have always wanted to work with children. At first, I thought that would be as a pediatrician. However, when my high school Home Ec. teacher introduced me to the field of dietetics, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do. I was and still am fascinated with the human relationship to food- one that is often underrated but so vital for our survival as a species. 

The American clinical nutrition field is made up of mostly white women, a fact that I was ignorant of before I started grad school. My nutrition program was not an exception to the national demographics. Therefore, in many of my classes, the few BIPOC bore the burden of pushing back on repetitive microaggressions and stereotypical misconceptions that our classmates had about communities of color. Cultural (non-white) foods and norms were often villainized and touted as the reasons for poor health indicators in black and brown communities. No one was talking about the systemic structures which intentionally kept BIPOC in areas with little access to fresh and healthy food. This was before the notion of Food Apartheid became more commonplace. 

So, I turned to Community and Public health nutrition as a way of opting out of a field that did not see BIPOC through a holistic lens. The system was broken and stacked up against folks who looked like me.  I realized that I wanted to be able to work with people and communities outside of the restrictions and limitations of Hospital regulations.

Who are the heroes that you look to in your work?

Dr. Jessica B. Harris for her work on documenting African American food pathways. She was a food writer during times when very few black and female writers were appreciated. I think her work to document the connection of black food in America to its African roots fills a vacuum in American food history. 

Yewande Komolafe, a Nigeran professional chef who just joined the elite ranks of the New York Times food writing staff. Yewande has used her platform to champion African food and bring food like Jollof rice to a wide audience. I think and hope that the more folks interact with cultures outside of their own, the less likely they are to be prejudice. Her appointment to such a mainstream food platform makes me feel like there is room for me too, an African girl from Kampala! Can you feel how excited I am for the future of food?

What are the challenges and opportunities particular to Black members of the environmental or food access space?

There are not enough black or brown people with decision-making roles in the food access space, especially in non-profits that work in communities that are predominantly BIPOC. I find it hard to think that any sustainable work can be done without centering the folks who are most affected and giving them a real voice. I can see glimpses of change in some of these spaces, but not enough to enact real change. 

What would this work look like in a more equitable society?

Food work is often underappreciated and the people who choose careers in it are often poorly compensated. Many black folks who work in this field do so as a sacrifice and in service to their communities. This sometimes means that people who want to do this work are not able to because they cannot afford to make the economical sacrifice. I think the food and nutrition field would be more diverse if we compensated black farmers, chefs, educators, and nutrition professionals more adequately.
 

Diante Webb

Please introduce yourself and describe what you do at GrowNYC.

My name is Diante Webb and I am GrowNYC’s Executive Assistant. I work mostly behind the scenes to support our Board of Directors, CEO, Assistant Director, and everyone else on staff! I schedule meetings, take minutes, draft agendas, plan events, and handle all kinds of administrative tasks.

Do you have certain passions that drew you to your current work?

I’ve always cared about the environment and wanted to learn more. I also love supporting and being a resource for people. So, I think that’s how I ended up where I am.

Who are the heroes that you look to in your work?

My heroes are Black activists, organizers, and everyday Black people working to make this City, State, and Country a better place for everyone. 

What are the challenges and opportunities particular to Black members of the environmental or food access space?

Environmental justice often excludes discussions of environmental racism, which perseveres and disproportionately affects Black people in the United States. We cannot achieve true environmental justice until the most vulnerable populations are acknowledged, accounted for, and protected.

What would this work look like in a more equitable society?

I think this work would include more perspective from and elevation of members of affected communities and their needs. In a more equitable society, grassroots organizations, communities, elected officials, and many more would work together to address the systemic issues behind food access, climate change, and environmental racism.
 

Chantel Kemp

Please introduce yourself and describe what you do at GrowNYC.

Hiya, my name is Chantel Kemp, and I am a Garden Coordinator at GrowNYC. A large part of what I do involves maintaining relationships with community members. The other parts include a weird juggling of corporate structure, earth warrior goddess mode, and navigating NY virtually. The members that I serve are some of the most beautiful souls, and for a long time, NYCHA has been underrepresented and undervalued. The residents of NYCHA have more value than a lot of NY residents see, my work in urban agriculture shines a light on that injustice. 

Do you have certain passions that drew you to your current work?

I have a passion for financial freedom and not having to sacrifice my morals to get it. When I first learned about the Urban AG Industry, I was receiving a stipend. $500 doesn’t do much when you’re struggling to pay bills, however, my saving grace was looking at the job potential and mobility. Salary positions that didn’t rely solely on academia, the AG industry valued my lived experience in a way the academic circles did not. 

Who are the heroes that you look to in your work?

My heroes are the young folks who choose Urban Ag for Summer Youth work. The young people who make the decision every day to support the earth and BIPOC freedoms. The teachers who center their work around equity and BIPOC voices. Last but certainly not least, my heroes are the beautiful POC women, men, and people who paved the way for me. 

What are the challenges and opportunities particular to Black members of the environmental or food access space?

There’s a pain for BIPOC folks in the environmental/green job sector. For the last 100 years or so POC folks have been suffering from some of the most violent forms of environmental terrorism. Mass and egregious pollution in black and brown communities, zero regulations or enforcement for housing standards or carbon emissions. The actual building of an expressway in communities already facing high rates of asthma and a lack of oversight of food corporations in black communities. So, the black and brown people that do the work in this sector are revolutionaries. Fighting not only for the earth’s existence but for the existence of our people on this planet too. #BlackLivesMatter 

What would this work look like in a more equitable society?

In a more equitable society, there would be major investment poured into urban communities through the creation of green jobs, training programs, internships, job shadowing opportunities, etc. There would also be space for economic mobility using a cooperative business model, and investment in creating an Innovation sector in NYC. Re-envisioning our NYC schools and replacing policing and regulations that undermine with more investment in social services, counselors, job training, trade skills, and healthier/tastier food options. Then we could foster and solidify relationships with schools and residents to build a better NYC and NY state.
 

Akhmose Ari-Hotep

Please introduce yourself and describe what you do at GrowNYC.

Greetings, my name is Akhmose Ari-Hotep. I started out at Grow as a Driver and Compost Coordinator then transitioned to the role of teamwork at Fresh Food Box and Greenmarkets. Presently and as of late I have been doing work with BIPOC and the Racial Equity Task Force (RETF).

Do you have certain passions that drew you to your current work?

I am an ‘Earth Steward,’ I am for equity, freedom, and restitution, I am ‘Captain Planet.’

Who are the heroes that you look to in your work?

Hazel M. Johnson, Dr. Robert D. Bullard, Domingo Morales, Ron Finley

What are the challenges and opportunities particular to Black members of the environmental or food access space?

Challenges: The reclamation of education, need for better access to resources, the need for more acknowledgment of our contributions to the field/s, participation in managerial roles, and policymaking. 

Opportunities: To innovate, lead, and still succeed in the face of continued adversity.

What would this work look like in a more equitable society? 

“40 acres and a mule.” Reparations!






 

Apply for the GrowNYC Mini Grant 2021

January 26, 2021

NYC DOE K-12 public and charter schools can apply for the GrowNYC Mini Grant! Eligible schools can apply for $500-$2000 in credit to a garden supply store to build or expand school gardens and outdoor learning spaces. The deadline to submit an application is February 15th, 2021 at 11:59pm(ET). To apply and learn more, visit grownycgrant.paperform.com

Here are a few resources that may help with your application:

Grant Writing Workshop: We are hosting a virtual Grant Writing Workshop on January 27th, 2021 at 4pm ET. RSVP on eventbrite. The workshop is not required, but is highly suggested, especially since our grant is different this year from previous years.

Grant FAQs: read about eligibility requirements, changes from past grant cycles, and more. If you have additional questions, email us at schoolgardens@grownyc.org 

Outdoor Learning Toolkit: This guide developed by GrowNYC and the National Wildlife Federation is meant to help schools in the planning and implementation of outdoor learning spaces in NYC. It can be a helpful resource as you plan your grant proposal.

Sample Application: Use this template to prepare your answers with your school committee. We recommend copy and pasting the questions into a word document or google doc. Before applying, you will also need to prepare the required documents to attach: a map of the proposed garden/outdoor learning space, a signed Principal's letter of approval, and a detailed budget spreadsheet.

Grant Application: Must be completed in one sitting. Make sure you have prepared your responses and required documents beforehand. Only one application per school - duplicate applications will be disqualified. Co-located schools can apply separately.

New York Seafood Summit

January 26, 2021
Posted in Greenmarket | Tagged seafood

New York Sea Grant, in collaboration with industry, academic and other professional seafood stakeholders, including GrowNYC, is hosting its annual New York Seafood Summit virtually this year, in English and Spanish.

The goal of the summit is to convene a group of enthusiastic professionals with vested interest in seafood to build active communications between the various sectors of New York's seafood industry. 

Each year at the summit we try to highlight some of New York’s bountiful seafood supply and introduce participants to the delicious, diverse, and versatile seafood’s available locally. 

Participants must register in advance for panels and discussions. Registration information here.

NOTE: Click Here to view in Spanish (haga clic aquí para ver en español)

The 2021 Seafood Summit will be going virtual!

Monday, February 22nd 3-4 PM
Culinary Discussion and Demonstration with Chef Victoria Blamey | Register Here

Tuesday, February 23rd 3-4 PM - Flyer (PDF)
Recirculating Aquaculture in New York with John Ng of Hudson Valley Fisheries | Register Here

Wednesday, February 24th 3-4 PM
New York Fisheries with Captain Peter Haskell | Register Here

Thursday, February 25th 3-4 PM
Seafood Retail in NY with Fishmonger Warren Kremin | Register Here

Friday, February 26th 3-5 PM
Participant Lightning Talks
Any participant interested in sharing a program, project, or resource with the summit audience is welcome to submit a 2-3-minute lightning talk (Click Here). These talks will need to be pre-recorded and submitted to NY Sea Grant.

Industry Panel on Resilience to Crisis | Register Here
Industry and agency panelist will discuss the challenges of the 2020 pandemic, how it affected different sectors and how different sectors did or could adapt to the significant economic changes and be more resilient in the future.

We hope to see you at the 2021 Seafood Summit!

You can check out a news archive that highlights previous seafood summits.

Also, there's a story map highlighting the New York Seafood Summit, which began in 2016 as a means of highlighting seafood efforts across New York and provide an opportunity for cross sector collaboration.

Notice of Recall, Maine Grains

January 26, 2021
Posted in Greenmarket

January 26, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Product Recall

Allergy Alert of Undeclared Soy in Organic Yellow Peas

GrowNYC is recalling Organic Yellow Peas from Maine Grains, Inc. of Skowhegan, Maine because it may contain undeclared soybeans. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to soy run the risk of serious or life- threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

This recall affects Organic Yellow Peas purchased from GrowNYC between 10.17.2019 and 12.31.2020 and is limited to Organic Yellow Peas sourced from Maine Grains, Inc. Please check your product’s source label to confirm the origin or contact us for further assistance.

No illnesses have been reported to date.

The recall was initiated after it was discovered that organic soybeans of similar size, shape and color to organic yellow peas were mistakenly labeled as Organic Yellow Peas and shipped to GrowNYC for further packing. Subsequent investigation indicates the problem was caused by supplier error.

Consumers who have purchased Organic Yellow Peas sourced from Maine Grains are urged to return the product to GrowNYC for a full refund. Customers with questions may contact GrowNYC at grains@grownyc.org with subject line, “Recall”.

Please see the attached notice from Maine Grains for further information and contact.

Best,

Marcel Van Ooyen
President / CEO

 

Women of Greenmarket

January 26, 2021
Posted in Greenmarket

Madalyn Warren 
Kimchi Harvest

What are the challenges of being a woman in this field? 

Major challenges in agriculture are not gender specific, nature does not discriminate.  Personal challenges are with cultivating diversity everyday and fighting my own inertia and compulsion to over simplify.

What woman has most influenced you in your work?

My mom and mother earth.

What do you love about your work and farming?  

I love working with nature and keeping up with the seasons.  Every year i get stronger, the ecosystems on the farm become more complex and the honor and responsibility to feed people nutritious food and support dreams deepen.

-----------------------------------

Shereen Alinaghian 
Ardith Mae

What are the challenges of being a woman in this field?

I spoke to other females, female farmers, and the girls that work for me about this question. It’s kind of funny because I don't find that there are any challenges for women more so than for men, at least in our group. I think it’s difficult for everybody. Farming is really tough for everyone. I actually think that as a female, it might be a little bit easier when dealing with livestock because you have a better understanding of the female anatomy. You might be a little more delicate when it comes to having to intervene in a difficult labor as well as aftercare. We all kind of have the same basic parts, and so we have a better understanding of what it's like to produce milk and the different literal growing pains the animals go through. 

I think it might actually be a little bit easier for women. Especially in the Hudson Valley, female farmers are so common now. Nobody really thinks differently in dealing with men or women. I think, overall, most farmers and those people dealing with farmers are looking for somebody who's knowledgeable about what they're doing. That's where they start to kind of gain respect for you. When I started farming, I was farming in northeastern Pennsylvania, which is very different than the Hudson Valley. There were some challenges because we were starting construction on our first facility. The contractors, and even the men that I would buy hay from, would say things like,  “Let me talk to the boss” and “we'll see what he says.” The boss, who was my husband at the time, would come to me and I would say,  “Just tell them I am the boss!” They could talk to me, or we can play this telephone game. But once they realized that I was on the farm and building the farm with the contractors inside, it was fine. I think that most men in certain areas just aren't really used to seeing a female that is as knowledgeable as a lot of men in the industry. 

What woman has influenced you in your work?

I don't have anyone in particular other than my mom. My mom is the most independent, kind of badass woman that I know. She always taught me that I didn’t need a man to carry luggage or to paint a room. She's always really encouraged me to be the tomboy that I've always been. My mom always supported me in farming. When things got really tough and I was having a really hard time financially or just managing the farm on my own, she was very supportive. She's always inspired me to be totally independent of a partner. I think that's helped tremendously in molding who I am. 

Was there a moment where you felt you had hit your stride?  If so, please describe. 

Never. That's the beauty of farming. As soon as you think that you’ve hit your stride, something happens and it's a real lesson. But that's one of the reasons I love farming so much. It’s never boring. There's always something to learn and you can always grow to become more mindful of what you're doing short-term and long-term. There is no stride - I'm always pushing to do more and have a positive impact on all the people around me. Farming is so humbling,  I would be afraid of what would happen if at any point I were to hit my stride. I never want to feel that way. I always want to be on my toes and remain proactive.

What do you like about being a farmer or about being in agriculture? 

With farming there's so much to learn-- it's really endless. Once you think that you have things figured out, there's more research on things like parasite management or new farming techniques. Cheesemaking is really fun, and we have the ability to be creative within that. It’s not just raising animals all the time. But the animals are what make it special for everybody. Goats are magical - they really test your patience but they all have such unique and individual personalities.

Farming is beautiful. I’m outside all the time. All of my views are of open pastures and animals grazing on them. It’s great being able to watch all of the seasonal changes.

-----------------------------------

Rebecca Rainville
Greener Pastures Farm 

What are the challenges of being a woman in this field?

Mostly, I'm pretty self-motivated and I can do a lot of stuff on my own. The biggest thing that I have trouble with right now is getting funded as a woman. I don't know if it's specifically woman-based, but I feel like when it comes to trying to get a loan, people don't think you really know what you're talking about. You kind of get that stereotypical response like, “You're not a man and you're looking for a farm loan?” I feel like we get a lot of that still. Like when I go to pick out a piece of equipment and people kind of look at me weird.I understand I'm a woman but, yes, I want to buy this tractor. It's sometimes hard to explain to people that I am a woman and I am in agriculture, and this is really what I do. Sometimes people just don't believe I’m a woman pig farmer. It's just not something you see. Usually people think that it’s your husband that's farming, and you are just the second half to the farm. But it's me. This is my farm.

What woman has most influenced you in your work?

Mary from Five Marys Farms. She's out in the Midwest. I watch a lot of her stuff. Her’s is a woman-based farm and she has all daughters. So it's all women running the farm. 

Was there a moment where you felt you had hit your stride?  If so, please describe. 

Actually, last year I had finally figured it out, and then COVID hit. But I said, “You have been successful before and now you get to go and play in the bigger sandbox with all the different people.” People were focusing more on local, which was really nice--to be able to provide extra for people, accurately, effectively, and rather quickly. Pork and chicken have a very fast turnaround, so last spring was honestly probably my best moment. 

What do you like about being a farmer or being in agriculture? 

I love that being able to educate people about the different products, whether it’s from birth to processing to raising, but also the finished product. Teaching people how to cook and use every part of the product as well as other things. I've taught people how to render the product down to make lard and use it for a million different things, how to make soaps with lard. People don't usually think of that, so that's been really inspiring.

-----------------------------------

Chrissy Chiachia
Gaia's Breath Farm

What are the challenges of being a woman in this field?

Not being taken seriously as someone who can operate any piece of farm equipment or managing daily trials and tribulations of farming since to be a good farmer you have to be a good problem solver and manage stress appropriately.

What woman has most influenced you in your work?

There’s three; my mother, Patricia Chiacchia, Julia Childs, and my first mentor, Leslie Revsen who was one of the first women to work in the kitchen at the Waldorf Astoria.

Was there a moment where you felt you had hit your stride?  If so, please describe. 

When I’m on the tractor in the middle of July and everything is growing and lush and we almost have a handle on everything. I feel like I’m ready to deal with any problems that come our way which they always do. I love walking in the potatoes and fields of other crops and feeling their energies.

What do you love about farming? 

Being able to fulfill my dream of practicing culinary arts using the best possible ingredients which we grow and raise on our farm. Everyday there’s something new! I love planting a seed and/or birthing an animal and seeing and reaping the rewards. Also there is nothing like the smell of the soil after the the winter thaw. I absolutely love to see the smile and joy on the faces of people who eat our food!

-----------------------------------

Laurel Bell
Wood Thrush Farm 

What are the challenges of being a woman in this field?

The biggest challenge for me as a woman, is teaching myself to have faith in my knowledge and experience. I’ve trained for farming my entire life, I grew up on a farm in Virginia, was raised by artists, farmers, veterinarians, and a paleontologist. I have always grown food, whether it be in a field, a backyard, or on a stoop. It is what I know the best, and yet it’s easy to have self doubt or to compare myself unfairly to my male counterparts. It is frustrating, the awed responses from some men when I am able to complete a seemingly simple mechanical task, as if it’s a surprise that I have a brain. Between farming and my previous profession, working as a chef, I’ve dealt with a lot of patriarchal hierarchy in the last decade. I’m really proud to be a woman who owns a farm business, and little by little I can help break up the assumption, not all farmers are white men.

What woman has most influenced you in your work?

I’m going to have to pull the mom card here.
My mother has always encouraged attention to nature. She once woke me up in the middle of the night when there was a Great Horned Owl outside her bedroom window. The Peterson’s Guide for Birds (on vinyl) often echoed throughout our house and she taught me the names of birds who frequented the feeders, the fields, and waterways. She took us on fossil digs, she encouraged my fascination of insects and provided terrariums to be converted into frog, fish, or praying mantis homes.. I did learn first hand what happens after praying mantises mate. Most of all, whenever I wanted a garden she would make it happen; I had flower gardens, vegetable gardens, and even a shade garden. One of our favorite activities was to visit the nearby nurseries so that we could find a new gem to add to our collection. Her love for plants was infectious and I learned that from an early age. I am who I am and can proudly call myself a farmer, because of my mother.

Was there a moment where you felt you had hit your stride?  If so, please describe. 

Over the recent years I’ve gotten several compliments from farmers who have been in the business for 30+ years. I was looking to them for advice and guidance, and then was told I was growing crops better or more efficiently than they were, it was a definite ah ha moment. I realized my desire to learn, my ability to adapt, and my ingenuity and love for puzzle solving finally had an outlet. Farming is all about trial and error, learning from mistakes and finding ways to improve. It is a lifestyle where I can combine all of my personal strengths and even flaws, and I thrive.

What do you love about farming? 

I love being outside, I love feeling, hearing, and tasting the changing of the seasons. I love being exhausted by summer and enjoying the downtime of winter. Previously, I went to school for holistic cooking, and as wonderful as it was to make good food for clients/customers, I always found myself stuck in a basement or a foreign kitchen. Being a market farmer allows me to know my customers in a much deeper and more reciprocal way. I’ve known our customers and fellow farmers for the last 8 years, and many of them are some of my closest friends. I love the reward of growing delicious food, and I also love the community we have as farmers.

-----------------------------------

Sharon Burns Leader
Bread Alone Bakery 

What are the challenges of being a woman in this field?

The challenges are less now than at any time in the past so I would be remiss not to celebrate that fact before going further. Women and girls have more opportunity and threshold respect in education, STEM fields, and even at their local garage or hardware store!  Coming up, that was not how it was for me and for my female colleagues. Walking into any situation in a kitchen or supply store it was assumed that you did not know what you were talking about or did not have the grit to follow through.  Commercial Kitchens in the 70's and 80's were male dominated locker-room style juggernauts for women.  In public, if there was a man involved in the work then that man would receive all of the praise and acknowledgement and, at the time, many men did not share the spotlight easily. 

This has been changing as men and women have been evolving and, though there are still issues emerging whose roots are embedded in the darwinian model, there are a lot of women mentoring women and a lot of men who are publically celebrating their female role models and co-creators. This shift in open collaboration is something I am very thankful for!

What woman has most influenced you in your work?

Two women come to mind right away: Trine Hahnemann and June Russell.  Both are women that I met through grain!

Trine is a force of nature: a cookbook author many times over, a business woman, a baker, chef, mother, thought provoker, and fiercely loyal friend. Trine loves my native city New York as much as I love hers - Copenhagen.  Trine showed me that if you believe in something then you fight for it and you don't worry about what other people think about you or your decisions.  Her cafe in Osterbro, Copenhagen is one of the most lovely places to relax and enjoy the Danish experience of hygge.  Trine is always the most gracious and beautiful host and has more deep friendships in more cities in the world than anyone that I know!

June, as you know, sheparded in the Local Grains Rule for Greenmarket.  What sounded initially like a threat to our livelihood became the work that has defined my career. When I first came to the FCAC and met June I was the classic introvert - pretty much afraid to say anything to anyone.  June was so driven and smart but also completely comfortable admitting when she did not know something.  And when she wanted to learn about a thing she went out and talked to people in a way that made them open up and want to explain.  I really respect how June comes to the table as herself.  She continues to be an inspiration to me as I watch her grow into a leader in our shared work of figuring out how to feed people, help people build equity and do less damage to our planet!

Was there a moment where you felt you had hit your stride?  If so, please describe. 

This happens in little ways that are rather impermanent!  I can describe the first time that I baked bread and knew from start to finish that it would be amazing.  Having made thousands of sourdough loaves over the years there comes a time when everything flows nicely and comes together easily.  This is the craft of baking but I can also relate this 'confidence' to times when I am handling a difficult personnel issue or a production problem.

This is a good question, though at first I was not going to answer it! Upon reflection I think the moment when I felt comfortable was when something went terribly wrong with a plan that we had in place and I did not panic.  This happens now all of the time. I go into positivity mode and jump over the problem in my mind to see what the next best step or path to a positive outcome could be.  There is always a next step and at times when things seem bleak it is important to keep an active problem solving flywheel going!

What do you love about being a Greenmarket baker? 

Greenmarket feels like home to me. I can remember driving back from the market in the early days and over the GW bridge with an empty truck and looking back at the lights that were on in apartments.  I knew that I had brought over 800 loaves of bread with me that morning and that I sold every one of them.  I imagined the 800 kitchen tables that those loaves were on and the happy faces around the table and I knew that I had chosen my path well and that feeding people would be my expression of service - something that I had been looking for - what we would now call 'purpose'. 

When we first came to greenmarket in the 80's it was an extension of the wild life that we had chosen.  I do not mean wild in the sense of the 80's in manhattan but of the return to the wilderness of the Catskill Mountains. We were living in the most beautiful place on earth and we were making a life on our own terms - not part of the food scene or the corporate junket and yet we were able to bring our beautiful sourdough organic loaves into the greatest city in the world and sell them in a market surrounded by like minded producers.  People were (and are) so appreciative of not only our breads but of our lives!  That felt really heady to me because we worked really long and hard days and nights and it was amazing to have people appreciate what we did.

since Michael took over, I have to say that I have been additionally proud to be a producer in the market.  The work that the team that he led has been doing has been amazing to watch from the sidelines and really personally inspirational.  Not all of the initiatives worked - some of the markets in food deserts were improperly conceived but there was always a sense of transparency among the leadership and staff and pivoting to or away from failing decisions has been just part of the growth of the market.  Being part of the greenmarket now, for me, means that I am connected to a powerful voice for people whose voices are often not heard. People who want to be of service and to help but do not know where to start and also for people who have no power in the existing food system.  

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Wendy Oakes Wilson 
LynOaken Farms 

What are the challenges of being a woman in this field?

Agriculture is still quite a man’s world. Especially conventional agriculture. Women have always been the “support” staff in agriculture, but there is not a well-respected farm out there that doesn’t have a woman pulling some strings behind the scenes!

There are more inherent possibilities to grow a new business with a woman at the helm (organics, niche producers, new products) but to lead a multi-generational, multi-income stream family business is always “interesting”. Men had been at the helm of LynOaken Farms for 100 years.

I am not out in the field and do not possess my family members’ green thumbs. I was actually the first to work for the farm without being expected to be in the field. For the first 5 years, it was mentally exhausting --- you don’t always see the “fruits” of your labors when you are streamlining accounting, opening up sales avenues and prioritizing human resource work.

I think one of the hardest things to get used to is “this is the way things have always been”. As general manager, I had to develop a strong sense of purpose and direction for the company that was a huge departure from the past.

What woman has most influenced you in your work?

As part of Generation X, we are really the first generation to both have to make changes and be able to enjoy the change. I look at my mother – she took a second seat to my father making sure that the farm books were done, running a picking crew and that their 5 kids were well taken care of. She didn’t need accolades or worldly possessions but she always had great respect for a job well done.

My mother worked for years not making a paycheck – simply doing what needed to be done to keep the business and the family going. At 91, she still is a force of nature. In effect, my mother gave me the grace to respect the work and the product but the impetus to make sure all abilities were appreciated and remunerated.

Was there a moment where you felt you had hit your stride?  If so, please describe. 

I have not hit my stride yet – that would be boring! We are constantly thinking ahead; what varieties to plant, what packaging will work best, how do we hire the best people, how do we get another generation interested in farming…

In 1984, I was the 18 year-old that said “I will never work on this family farm again!!” I wanted nothing to do with our small town or growing apples. I didn’t see a future for me on the farm because there wasn’t a position that would utilize my skills.

However, after living abroad and in Florida, getting married and wanting to have a family, an opportunity to increase LynOaken’s consumer direct presence presented itself and my husband and I moved back and we haven’t stopped innovating since.

What do you love about farming? 

Farming is not for the faint of heart; we are beholden to Mother Nature (the real boss lady!), changes in environmental restrictions and immigration laws. We act as our own accountants and sometime lawyers. We are in the commodities business and need to know international trends and pricing structures. We have to stay on top of human resource training and tax implications.

BUT, agriculture allows the producer to feel pride in a job well done. At LynOaken we strive to produce the best quality, best tasting fruit our land and climate will allow. Seeing a smile on someone’s face when they bite into a Crispin in June (that was picked in October of the previous year) is a thrill that can’t be replicated on a factory floor!

-----------------------------------

Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht
Garden of Eve 

What are the challenges of being a woman in this field?

To be honest, it’s great to be a woman in farming. I love being in a work environment where you’re not judged on your appearance, clothes, or female stereotypes. Once in awhile, there might be a man who underestimates my physical strength or feels like he has to do things for me that I can certainly do myself. I love being part of a community of farmer-colleagues in my town, and sometimes I am certainly conscious that I’m the only woman at the table or in the room.

What woman has most influenced you in your work?

When we were first getting started farming, we would go to winter conferences and some of the female presenters really became role models for me, when I found myself in their shoes – balancing farming and motherhood – just a few years later. One is Claudia Kenny of Little Seed Farms in the Hudson Valley, she has a great energy and has always been so open about sharing her journey with me – even though I only see her about every five years or so. She was homeschooling before I was homeschooling, then later she became involved in Mediation and Collaborative Communication, and I continue to find myself walking a similar path.  

Was there a moment where you felt you had hit your stride?  If so, please describe. 

When we started the farm I was about 28. I felt young and saw myself as a “young person”. Then I had my first baby at 31, and all of a sudden I realized that the 20-somethings who worked for us saw me as being so much older. Actually it was sort of a sad feeling for me to be isolated in that way, but I also realized that by taking on so much more responsibility, between the farm and raising a family, I was in fact maturing and turning into a different and more mature person.

What do you love about farming? 

I have always loved being outdoors, and preferred it to being inside. Nature is real and it helps you live fully in every moment. My college essay was about how I didn’t really want to go to college, I just wanted to live in the woods. Farming is about as close to “survivalism” as you can get, while sleeping with central heating and making a living in a cash economy. Childhood friends and relatives sometimes seemed surprised I ended up farming, because it wasn’t in my background, but in many ways I’m not surprised at all.

 

Notice of Recall, Tonjes Farm

January 15, 2021

CONSUMER ALERT: Listeria Monocytogenes Contamination in Rambler Raw Milk Cheese

New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball today warned consumers not to consume Rambler raw milk cheese made by Tonjes Farm Dairy located at 188 Tonjes Road, Callicoon, NY 12723 due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. To date, no illnesses have been reported to the Department associated with this product.

The product is packaged in various sizes in vacuum packed bags with the name Rambler and a code of 050520. The consumer alert affects all packages with this code; however, any package with an unknown code date purchased after December 31, 2020 should not be consumed.

This product was sold at Peck’s Market in Callicoon, Eldred, Livingston Manor and Jeffersonville, Pete’s Market in Narrowsburg, Callicoon Farmer’s Market and Union Square Market in NYC.

A routine sample of the cheese, taken by an inspector from the Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services on January 5, 2021, was subsequently tested by the New York State Food Laboratory and discovered to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. On January 7, 2021 the manufacturer was notified of a preliminary positive test result. Test results were confirmed as positive for Listeria monocytogenes on January 12, 2021. The cheese will be destroyed by the manufacturer.

Listeria-contaminated product may cause Listeriosis, a disease that usually causes mild flu-like symptoms in healthy individuals; however, in immune-compromised individuals, meningitis and blood poisoning can occur. Pregnant women are also considered a high-risk group, as Listeriosis can also result in stillbirths.

Consumers with questions about the recalled product can contact Tim Tonjes at (845)482-5971.

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