GrowNYC Hosts USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden

June 5, 2015
Posted in Greenmarket

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

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

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

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

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

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

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