In the Spotlight

Building Bridges Receives Federal Support to End Hunger

On February 23rd, USDA Secretary Vilsack announced the first-ever award selections for the new Hunger Free Communities grant program. The Building Bridges project was on the short list of only 10 planning projects across the entire country. Building Bridges to a Hunger Free Poughkeepsie is a community collaboration initiated by the Poughkeepsie Farm Project a little more than year ago with the aim of ensuring all residents of the City of Poughkeepsie can secure nutritious food.

The grant awarded for our project, Building Bridges, provides nearly $100,000 over two years to support assessment, planning and community mobilization efforts that will result in a plan for a hunger free community and a council to oversee the plan’s implementation.

“One of the reasons that the USDA is supporting promising projects like Building Bridges is to learn more about effective strategies to reduce hunger in the United States,” explained Susan Grove, Executive Director of the Poughkeepsie Farm Project. “Receipt of this grant represents a very exciting – and challenging – opportunity for our city. Our collaboration is motivated to take this issue head on and learn from and with our neighbors about hunger – and what we can do to end it.”

Poughkeepsie teens and their families enjoy a fresh-cooked feast at the Poughkeepsie Farm Project.

Brian Riddell, Executive Director of Dutchess Outreach, a Building Bridges partner, commented, “This is a tremendous first step toward solving a serious social issue at the community level. The success of our proposal is indicative of the commitment of people in Poughkeepsie, from all walks of life, to work to end this glaring inequality. I look forward to working with all involved in the well being of the people of this City.”

In the fall of 2010, the project began a survey of City households as part of a class project for Vassar College’s Community Development course. The survey, conducted in about 10 minutes with willing residents of addresses selected at random, is ongoing. Building Bridges is seeking volunteers to participate in Community Survey Days, planned for March 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27. Volunteers receive an orientation on asking and recording questions about food affordability, access to grocery stores, hunger, food choices and nutrition, and are assigned a surveying partner and a list of addresses.

“This is the first food assessment survey being conducted across all neighborhoods and residential groups in the City of Poughkeepsie,” said Professor Leonard Nevarez of Vassar College, who is leading the surveying effort. “The findings will provide the means for our community to evaluate our food access and food quality, and to determine ways that local government and institutions can work together to improve our food system.”

The next activity planned for the project is a series of community forums to share survey results and engage a wider set of perspectives to interpret them. The surveys and community forums are designed to bring attention to local food resources, discover opportunities to improve Poughkeepsie’s food system, and ensure convenient access to healthy food for all. To volunteer or for more information, contact BuildingBridges@farmproject.org or 845-473-1415.

The Building Bridges collaborative includes representatives of Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County, Dutchess County Department of Health, Dutchess Outreach, Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Vassar College, and other agencies and individuals concerned with secure access to nutritious food in Poughkeepsie. Building Bridges is also supported by funding from the United Way of Dutchess County.

You can help us! Get involved!

Member Survey Response, Part Two of Two

In last month’s newsletter we talked about the CSA distribution system that we have used for the past two seasons. This month we continue our response to issues raised by CSA members in the 2010 PFP survey. In this month’s installment are some statistics on share size, and most and least requested vegetables, as well as some rationale behind why we don’t grow more of some of the perennially requested favorites like spinach and melons.

At the end of each season, we come up with an estimate of the average size of a standard share (these figures do not include pick-your-own). The chart below shows that all the years for which we have data (2004-2010), we have exceeded by 20-60% the stated estimate of 10lbs/week . The average share size over the most recent 4 years has been larger than the previous 3 years, and that includes the horribly wet, cool and late-blight infested 2009.

Average pounds per week per shareholder graph

One hundred and nine people responded to our member survey this fall and gave us information on vegetables they felt there were too much and too little of. This information is very helpful and we use these responses as a guide when adjusting the amounts we grow. There are some situations though where we aren’t able to adjust to meet the demand. The chart below summarizes the data for the items with the most responses either for or against:

Veggies - too much too little

It is interesting to notice that all of the top 7 vegetables for which people said there was too little are distinctly seasonal—coming in during only the cool season or only the warm season or only later in the season. For example, even if we are growing enough cucumbers that there are consistently some left over at the end of distribution during July-August when they are potentially most productive in our climate, there will be long stretches of the CSA season without them. The four things that members most often said we grew too much of are kale, cabbage, radish and chard. All four of them take up relatively little room in our crop rotation. We adjusted chard and kale up in 2010 after we found our 2009 plantings couldn’t keep up with demand. Since it takes relatively little space they are crops that we could aim to grow enough to meet the demand, which pleased us since chard and kale are two of the most nutritious things we grow. But it’s not surprising that not everyone thinks that is necessary – they are one of those vegetables that some people want every week and for others, once is more than enough. Radishes add variety during the spring and fall and really take up almost no space so we’ve taken a similar philosophy approach as to chard and kale. Cabbages are one of the things that the soup kitchens, to which we donate produce, most often tell us that they would like, so we really don’t mind if the CSA members don’t want all that we grow. (A side note: the produce that we donate, except for when a CSA family doesn’t pick up its share one week, is paid for by donations and grants. The cost of the CSA share only covers the cost of the vegetables that CSA members receive.)

Now for some crop-by-crop details on the things people wish we had more of:

Spinach is a cool season crop, and we also have a lot of trouble growing it, even in its proper seasons—we plant far more beds than come to harvestable maturity – the main problem is getting it to germinate well. It’s about the only crop that has given us so much trouble that we continue to try to grow in such quantity. We have a plan this year to do transplants as well as direct seeding spinach so we can fill in the gaps on the thin beds – we’ll see how it works…

Melons are a warm season crop that we devote a lot of space to. Hot and dry 2010 should have been a good season for melons, but several of our plantings faced a random assortment of challenges from timing problems to heat related issues that caused lower than average yields.

Broccoli is a cool season crop that we devote a lot of space to. We continue to work on increasing the yields we achieve from the area that we plant. In 2009 we started planting them closer together to increase yields and we continue to tweak the soil fertility to support this heavy feeding crop.

Tomatoes are a warm season crop that gets a fair amount of space, and pride of place in our season-extending hoophouse. We harvested 10,000 pounds in 2010, second only to potatoes, and about 50% more than the poor season of 2009. We are devoting a little more space to it in 2011 but not a lot more. We spend a good percentage of our timing picking and sorting tomatoes during their late July-August peak season. We don’t have the capacity to pick, sort and store too many more during that time of year, and the only way we could extend the season more would be to use a heated greenhouse, increasing our use of fossil fuels – decreasing our sustainability and increasing our expenses – not a step we are prepared to take right now.

Cucumbers are a warm season crop. In recent years their season has been cut short by the appearance of a disease new to our region, called downy mildew – an aggressive disease we are finally admitting we need to explore organic control options to address. Apparently the disease does not over-winter here, but is blown in from greenhouse operations in Ontario that are now producing cucumbers year-round.

Onions also continue to face production problems mostly related to an insect pest, called thrips, which we haven’t figured out adequate controls for. We’re continuing to work on it. Because of this problem we have grown a fair number of leeks and increased scallion production—not the same thing, we know, but fair substitutes in certain circumstances.
Last among the 7 most requested was peppers—and we are increasing production and variety in 2011, so hopefully we’ll have more of them this coming season.

There is some middle ground where some people say there’s too little of a vegetable and others say there’s too much of that same thing, this was the case for eggplant, potatoes, winter squash and zucchini. We interpret this to mean that we have it about right. Certainly the responses don’t justify a dramatic change in how much of those we grow.

There were many other insightful and helpful comments from our CSA members in response to our survey—too many for me to address them all here, though maybe we’ll have a run at it soon. The three big categories that the comments fall into are pick-your-own; website functionality (e.g. access to recipes, information on the week’s harvest, and member hours sign-up); and distribution time. We certainly have plans, or at least thoughts, about improvements to make in these areas although years of experience have taught us that with our first priority being getting the vegetables grown and harvested, there are only so many other improvements we will manage to get to. We are open to your thoughts and initiatives for improvements as well. We’ll all have a chance to reflect on how we did next fall. Thanks to all of you who gave feedback.
Enjoying the strengthening sun and warming air, yours in the field
Asher Burkhart-Spiegel

 

Growing our Community

Buy Hudson Seed Library Seeds and Support the PFP

PFP’s seeds will be available through the Hudson Valley Seed Library this year. HVSL is a local company that creates accessible and affordable regionally-adapted seeds that are maintained by a community of caring farmers and gardeners in the Hudson Valley. This year, they expect to offer 60 varieties of locally grown seed and around 100 varieties sourced from responsible seed houses. Through their “Green$eed” program, the PFP will receive 25% of any online purchases made by using our code, PFP. Seeds may also be purchased directly at the PFP’s Open House and Plant Sales in May.

To order online, go to seedlibrary.org and at the checkout, submit our code PFP before placing your order. PFP-grown seeds in the catalog include lettuces, beans, and tomatoes. Happy seeding!

PFP Education Manager Participates in the Food Project's Winter Institute

By Jamie Levato

In September 2010, the Poughkeepsie Farm Project piloted a school gardening program at Poughkeepsie High School called City Seeds. The goals of City Seeds include providing Poughkeepsie High School students with opportunities to connect to the land (including the courtyard garden in the school building), to enjoy eating healthy foods, and to increase their leadership skills. In preparation for the 2011 sessions of City Seeds, I attended The Food Project’s Winter Institute.*

I spent two and a half days learning about The Food Project’s many programs with a group of educators and food justice advocates from around the United States and Canada. One of the highlights of the Institute was interacting with the youth. Three of the most prepared and well-spoken youth shared with us their experiences at the Food Project and the elements that have been most meaningful to them. I was particularly struck by the students’ candor and thoughtfulness. Their presentation emphasized one of the recurring themes of the training: the benefits of providing youth with opportunities for leadership in their communities. Although our youth education program is substantially smaller that that of The Food Project, I plan to use the ideas and inspiration I gained at the Winter Institute to enhance City Seeds and the farm-based education programs.

*Participation made possible by a grant from the Community Response Fund of the Community Foundation of Dutchess County.

Get Involved

How to Get Involved with 2 Great Orgs at Once: Walkway and the Farmers' Market

Walkway Over the Hudson, the non-profit organization, is building a core group of volunteers who will become on-site educators, assist with special events, serve as guides for special interest groups, provide logistical support and welcome visitors to Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park.  A key opportunity for volunteers will be to support the Poughkeepsie Farmers' Market this season with logistical assistance, information and visitor support.

Called the Ambassador Program, the approach is to build on the dedication and energy of a growing number of people who want to volunteer, to define levels of training matched to the individuals’ commitment and capability, and to deliver a varied and robust corps of volunteers who can address Walkway’s many needs and opportunities.

Special areas of expertise will include: Bridge and Local History; Nature and the Environment; Recreation and Fitness; K-12 Educational Activities; and Pet Etiquette and Well-being.

For more information on Walkway Over the Hudson visit www.walkway.org. If you are interested in the Ambassador Program, please contact Joyce at jtomaselli@walkway.org.

Help End Hunger in Poughkeepsie!

Building Bridges to a Hunger Free Poughkeepsie's community survey days are coming soon!

  • Dates: March 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27 - we are seeking volunteers to sign up for one (or more) of these 6 survey days.
  • Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Location: City of Poughkeepsie

Volunteers will help us reach our goal of 375 completed household surveys (1/3 of which have already been completed), which will provide a baseline of data on pressing food issues in our city.  The day will begin with training, followed by assigning addresses to paired surveying teams.  A light lunch will be provided mid-day.  At the end of each survey day, we will tally our results for the day and celebrate our work together. Please contact BuildingBridges@farmproject.org or 473-1415 if you are interested in joining this important community project.

Poughkeepsie Farmers' Market Seeks Vendors and a Market Manager

Perhaps, with all this snowy, cold weather, the farmers’ market season feels far away to you. For the PFP and the other three partners of the Poughkeepsie Farmers’ Market at Pulaski Park and the Walkway, the farmers’ market is already present in our daily lives.  We are establishing policies, training volunteers, planning events, and recruiting vendors as well as a Market Manager.  Good things are in store every Friday from 3 – 7 p.m. in the City of Poughkeepsie! If you want to have a bit of farmers’ market feeling in these cold winter months, help spread the word about vending opportunities and the PFP’s Market Manager job opening.

Apprentice Seeking Housing

This year we have at least one full-season apprentice (she’ll be with us from early March through early November) who is interested in learning about housing opportunities that our membership may have to offer. If you are interested in renting to a PFP apprentice, please contact us and we’ll forward on the information to her. We’ll also keep the information on file in case any other seasonal PFP employees are interested (we haven’t quite finished filling all the positions).
Please e-mail us at info@farmproject.org
Thanks, Asher & Wendy

March Discounted Pottery Class on Saturdays - Register Today!

The fourth annual Soup-A-Bowl is coming up...and we need bowls! Learn ceramics while contributing to this wonderful community event.

BOWL-A-THON
Discounted Pottery Classes

Learn how to hand build or throw ceramic bowls for Soup-A-Bowl in five 2-1/2 hour sessions!

Saturdays, 1-3:30pm, March 5-April 2 with Amie Laino
Wednesdays, 5:30-8pm April 27-May 25 with Amie Laino

At Barrett Clay Works, 485 Main St., Poughkeepsie

$125.00* for Barrett members and non-members

*This discounted class rate is through a collaboration with Barrett Art Center in recognition of the fact that the bowls will be donated to the annual Soup-A-Bowl fundraiser, a celebration of food and art to end hunger and provide healthy organic foods to the community. We need 300 ceramic bowls by September 18, 2011 and we need your help!

Tuition includes free clay, instructor and firing fees for all bowls donated to the Soup-A-Bowl.

To register, call Loretta at Barrett Art Center at (845) 471-2550.

You can also help the Poughkeepsie Farm Project and Barrett Clay Works by spreading the word about these discounted pottery classes that help us provide tons of good food to low-income families and life-changing experiences learning about food and farming.

Save the Date

2011 Volunteer Kick Off is on Sunday, February 27th

RSVP today at susan@farmproject.org or 473-1415.

At the Volunteer Kick Off and Annual Planning, we will gather to plant proverbial seeds for the coming season’s events and special projects.  Current and curious volunteers will gather to share ideas and energy, help plan the upcoming season, and reconnect in the winter.

Where:
Vassar College, Kenyon Club Room, 2nd floor, Kenyon Hall

When:
Sunday, February 27, 2011
12:30 Tea & refreshments; Prompt start at 1:00, close at 5:00

Goals: 

1. Connect with PFP’s big picture & what’s ahead in 2011.
2. Find out what captures people’s interest & energy.
3. Launch planning for 2011 events & projects.
4. Build community.

For more infomation on this event, and how to get involved see our planning page.

Plant Sale and Open Farm Day

Saturday, May 14, 2011 - 9:00am - 3:00pm

The annual season kick-off event for the PFP, we invite you to join us and celebrate spring!

Open Farm Day is open to the public, takes place rain or shine, and is FREE!

Activities include a local foods farm market, cooking demonstrations, farm and garden tours, and several activities for children. Be sure to visit the PFP information booth to learn more about the PFP's food justice and education programs.

At the Plant Sale tent you can purchase our Certified Naturally Grown seedlings and plants, including vegetables, annual and perennial flowers, strawberry plants, and herbs, as well as dozens of varieties of seeds from the PFP and Hudson Valley Seed Library. Download the updated 2011 Plant list with descriptions of each variety we offer.

PFP CSA members will have their first opportunity to sign up for shareholder work hours as well. Not yet a member of a CSA? Then stop by the Veritas Farms booth, where you can sign up for their CSA and have your share dropped off on Mondays at the PFP.

All proceeds from PFP plant and merchandise sales are used to support our food justice and education programs.

 

Schedule of Events--plan your day! 

All day (9am-3pm):

Plant and seed sales

PFP merchandise sales (t-shirts, herbal products, water bottles, bags, decals...)

Local Foods Farm Market (meat, eggs, bread, and more)

Children's activities: seed art making, scavenger hunt, pictures with Super Veggie

PFP CSA shareholder work hours sign-ups

Veritas CSA membership sign-ups

Special Activities:

10:30am Seed Garden Tour

11:00am Cooking Demonstration (Rutabaga and Carrot Puree)

               Children's Storytime

11:30am Farm Tour

12:00pm Cooking Demonstration (Rhubarb Compote)

12:30pm "Tasting" Tour

1:00pm Cooking Demonstration (Celeriac Risotto with Pesto)

              Children's Storytime

1:30pm Farm Tour

2:00pm Cooking Demonstration (Potato, Parsnip, and Turnip Fries)

2:30pm Herb Garden Tour

 

 

We hope to see you at the Poughkeepsie Farm Project (located at the intersection of Raymond and Hooker Avenues in Poughkeepsie) on May 14 from 9am-3pm for a day of farm, community, and fun!

A second Plant Sale is also planned for the following Saturday, May 21st, from 9:00 am to noon.

Giving Back

Businesses Invited to Sponsor PFP Events

Do you know a business that is seeking to enhance its profile while supporting significant, positive difference in the lives people who participate in the PFP's food justice and education programs?  Perhaps a business owner who wants to support healthy eating and sustainable agriculture while receiving marketing benefits?

The PFP is offering opportunities to promote and enhance the image of businesses that are interested in supporting our community and our mission.  We have created packets that detail opportunities at various levels - starting from $50 and including in-kind donations - to sponsor and be recognized at the Poughkeepsie Farmers' Market, A Seat at the Table or Soup-A-Bowl.  

If you, or someone you know, is interested in receiving more information on 2011 sponsorship opportunities, please contact susan@farmproject.org or 473-1415.

Featured Vegetable and Recipes

Beets

Beets can be eaten raw, roasted, steamed, grilled, boiled, and baked. They are, of course, the featured vegetable in borscht, and they star in all kinds of salads. The tasty greens can be used in all the ways spinach and chard are. Fresh beets keep well for weeks in the refrigerator in a paper or perforated plastic bag. The greens can also be stored in a plastic bag, but only for a few days at most. Cooked beets keep for a week in the refrigerator.

Regardless of how you cook them, be sure to leave the tail, skin, and at least an inch of the stems attached to keep the valuable juices locked inside. Beets are easier to peel after they're cooked, so just scrub them and cook them with their skins on.

Nutrition

Both filling and nutritious, the beet is a great source of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and folate. Most of the calories in beets (though there aren’t many) derive from beet sugars, but unlike table sugar or corn syrup sugars, vegetable sugars are healthier and add heartiness to any dish. Furthermore, the small percentage of fat in beets consist solely of healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fats are essential to our bodily functions, but our body cannot produce them. These fatty acids aid in metabolism, prevent blood clotting, and lower risks of heart disease and cancer. Similarly, antioxidants in the pigments of beets are proven to help prevent heart attack and stroke, lower cholesterol, and have anti-aging effects. Even the beet greens are edible, and a great source of antioxidants and vitamin A (which is vital for good vision).

Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison (New York: Broadway Books, 1997).  

Roasted Beets

Summary

Yield
Servings
Prep time30 minutes

Description

Roasted Beets are delicious!

Ingredients

1⁄2tsalt
1⁄2tpepper
4Tolive oil
8 beets (medium-sized)

Instructions

 Preheat oven to 375*
Cut beets into quarters or eighths (so wedges are approximately one square inch). Mix beets, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a bowl until beets are well coated. Make a boat of tin foil and fill boat with beets, leaving enough extra foil at the edges to fold over and cover beets. Firmly seal foil around beets and place on a baking sheet (to prevent dripping) at the top rack of the oven. Roast beets until desired tenderness, about 25-35 minutes, checking on beets occasionally by peeling back foil and spearing beets with a fork or knife.
 
*If you have a barbeque you can roast the beets (still in foil boat) over a medium high flame. This makes a great side dish for summer cookouts and picnics!

Blazing Beet Soup

Summary

Yield
Servings
Source

Blazing Beet Soup. Epicurious.com. Originally from PARADE magazinee.

Prep time1 hour

Description

Beet Soup

Ingredients

8cvegetable or chicken broth (fresh or canned)
2cwater
3Tlemon juice (preferably fresh)
1⁄2csour cream (optional for garnish)
2pnsalt (or to taste)
8 beets (medium-sized, scrubbed)

Instructions

 Place the beets in a heavy pot and cover with broth. Bring to a boil, partially covered. Reduce the heat to medium; simmer for 45 minutes or until the beets are tender. Remove the beets to a bowl with a slotted spoon. When the beets are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins and cut beets into pieces. Pour the broth through a fine strainer into another pot to remove any particles.
Puree the beets in batches in the bowl of a food processor, adding the broth and water through the feed tube. Remove to a bowl. Add the lemon juice until the right balance of sweet and sour is achieved. Season with salt. Serve soup in small portions, dolloped with sour cream.

Notes

 Nutritional information Per serving: 75 calories, 8g carbohydrates, 3g protein, 3g fat, 6mg cholesterol. (Nutritional analysis provided by New Wellness, Richmond, Va.)

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