Jul 062011

Will Allen meeting with Rev. Robert Jackson, Bed Stuy Farm

July 21st, 6:00-8:30 PM
Boys and Girls High School Auditorium; 1700 Fulton St., Brooklyn, NY 11213
Suggestion $10 donation, $5 for students/low income
Learn from MacArthur Fellow & Founder of Growing Power


July 22nd, 7:00-9:00 PM
Peaches Restaurant (New Catering Hall); 393 Lewis Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11233
$100 per personhttp://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/184627
Enjoy an intimate tasting of local sustainable farm foods.
All proceeds support work of Brooklyn Rescue Mission,
A food justice program feeding 4000+ needy people each month.

July 22nd, 8:00 AM-5:00 PM & July 23rd, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM
Bed-Stuy Farm; 255 Bainbridge Street, Brooklyn, NY 11233
$150 before July 15th, $200 thereafter
Very Limited Space!

 Posted by at 1:40 pm
Jun 282011

Today, June 28, 2011 was set to be our last Reading Circle.

However, I received many last minute cancellations from our members and only one RSVP’d yes.

Hence, it seems that the charms of Summer’s heat have undone our bookish communion.

However, Fear Not! We will take up the cause of reading about farming in the City in the Fall.

I think that we will keep the Last Tuesday of the Month from 7-9p as our meeting time.
However, I think it will be more chummy to have the meetings as Potlucks at peoples homes.

Please contact me with your interest in being part of the Fall Reading Circle, suggestions of titles, offers of your Home as a venue.

Thanks and Have a Great Summer!!!!

 Posted by at 6:04 pm
May 182011
City Bountiful Book Cover

Author Lawson to Read from City Bountiful on June 7

Book Talk
with Laura J. Lawson
, Author
City Bountiful
June 7, 2011
6:00 -8:00 PM

NEW LOCATION: at 61 Local.
Bryant Park (MAP)
NE corner of great lawn

Please bring a picnic dinner, if you wish.
Rain Location: Just Food, 1155 6th Avenue, NY (just two blocks away from Bryant Park).
RSVP BY JUNE 6, 2011 with all guests names (so we can give a list of names to Just Food, as their office is in a big corp tower).

Please note date, time & location change for this event to accommodate unique dialogue with book’s writer.  Bryant Park is a fitting location for our talk as it was the site of victory gardens during WW I.

City Bountiful: A Century of Community Gardening in America by Laura J Johnson

“An important book about how the urban gardening movement is transforming our landscape and reconnecting us to the land.” – Alice Waters, Owner, Chez Panisse”

Since the 1890s, providing places for people to garden has been an inventive strategy to improve American urban conditions. There have been vacant-lot gardens, school gardens, Depression-era relief gardens, victory gardens, and community gardens–each representing a consistent impulse to return to gardening during times of social and economic change. In this critical history of community gardening in America, the most comprehensive review of the greening of urban communities to date, Laura J. Lawson documents the evolution of urban garden programs in the United States. Her vibrant narrative focuses on the values associated with gardening, the ebb and flow of campaigns during times of social and economic crisis, organizational strategies of these primarily volunteer campaigns, and the sustainability of current programs.

About Farm City Reading Circle

About Farm City Chautauqua

 Posted by at 10:09 pm
May 042011

Chautauqua: Storied Foods

On Saturday May 7, 2011, 11 AM – 6PM, Farm City Chautauqua will present a day of programming drawing from all of the creative energy of the artists participating in our multi-month series.

Communal Table, Community Cooking Club, Chloe Bass, People’s Champs and Tracing Trash have come together to present one collective, monumental performance work that creates a circus of stories inspired by food.

Location: Sara Delano Roosevelt Park
Chrystie Street at Stanton Street
Tent at rear of the basketball court
Map of StreetFest

In Brief: At an outdoor kitchen, a team of artists will share foods with passersby that elicit narrative.   Participants will be invited to join in one-on-one chats delving into intimate food stories, some recorded for online posting.  Each performance cycle will end/begin with a hootenanny led by the live band, The People’s Champs. Through discussion and communal effort, participants share & understand food in new ways.

Storied Foods: Communal Table will concoct “Essential Oils,” a sampling of flavored oils savored by denizens of the Lower East Side of Manhattan: Chinese Chili Oil, Puerto Rican (pan-Latin) Sofrito, and a vegetarian Jewish caramelized onion “schmaltz”.  Each of these three types of oils form part of a distinct ethnic palette.  Participants will be invited to taste each of these condiments on bread as an appetizer to spark dialogue with the artists about their ethnicities and the flavors of their cultures. The artists will give each guest a card to record background info and their own essential ethnic recipes.  The artists will display the cards and some will be selected to be posted online.  Communal Table is a project of Deena Lebow and Ame Gilbert, hosting host salon suppers highlighting art and craft of food narratives.

Community Cooking Club, an interactive program led by Tracy Candido, will present ”Food Tarot,” inviting participants to imbibe blueberry iced tea (blueberries are known to impart mental clarity) and then reading their tarot cards.  According to Candido, “the individual and I will be sharing a story that we are writing together, fueled by this elixir of mental clarity, as we look at their recent past, present and future.” Community Cooking Club engages the public in making and eating food together to empower the lives of people in urban environments.

Chloë Bass will create a “Community Spice Rack” of scents and secrets. Participants will make a message in a bottle for New York City. Chloë Bass creates interactive works, such as “Process Dinner,” where food is shared as a social experience, transforming guests into observed performers.

Tracing Trash : Food Flow
Discover the long and winding path of your food while sipping a special elixir derived from discarded citrus rinds.  Tracing Trash members Elliott Maltby, Clarinda Mac Low and Jill Slater bring the life cycle of food to front and center for this day’s interaction.  Tracing Trash is part of ArtCraftTech, a project of Culture Push, Inc and uses public interaction to spark dialogue about food justice and urban land use by focusing on the life of garbage. Original Tracing Trash members also include Sara Eichner, Deena Patel, Neha Sabnis, Kathy Westwater and Babette Audant.  Tracing Trash will be presenting more garbage lore and thoughts around waste and space as part of the Farm City Chautauqua at 61 Local on May 24 and 25.

Tracing Trash: Grapefruit-Ginger Elixir
Bring equal parts water and sugar to a boil.
Mix until sugar dissolves.
Turn off heat and allow mixture to cool.
Add rescued and cleaned grapefruit peels and ginger peels.
Refrigerate and steep overnight.
Compost grapefruit peels and ginger.
Mix syrup with seltzer for a refreshing beverage. (Or use to create a cocktail of your choice).

People’s Champs’ will perform original compositions, including titles from their latest EP, BandCamp, released on May 6, 2011.

Storied Foods is presented as part of Streetfest, a component of The Festival of Ideas for the New City, May 4-8, 2011, is a major new collaborative initiative in New York involving scores of Downtown organizations, from universities to arts institutions and community groups, working together to affect change. A first for New York, the Festival will harness the power of the creative community to imagine the future city and explore the ideas destined to shape it.

It will take place in multiple venues Downtown and is organized around three central programs: a three-day slate of symposia; an innovative StreetFest along the Bowery; and over eighty independent projects and public events. The Festival will serve as a platform for artists, writers, architects, engineers, designers, urban farmers, planners, and thought leaders to exchange ideas, propose solutions, and invite the public to participate.

Festival Information: festivalofideasnyc.com.

StreetFest Brochure: http://issuu.com/newmuseum/docs/festival_of_ideas_program

Special Thanks: Annie Wachinski. New Museum, who invited us & answered myriad questions, George Weld & Holly Howard, Egg Restaurant, who helped us source foodstuffs, Nicole Reed who lent us transportation & all our friends & relatives who told us food stories inspiring us to share this work with you.

 Posted by at 9:40 am
Apr 232011

Sing for Your Supper: A Celebration of Music & Food presented by Communal Table as part of the Farm City Chautauqua Assemblies at 61 Local, 61 Bergen Street, Brooklyn NY 11201. Wednesday April 27 from 6:30-9:30pm.

“Sing for Your Supper” is an evening of Spring songs and foods presented by Communal Table as part of the Farm City Chautauqua Assemblies at 61 Local. Singers singing two songs each will be accompanied by ‘small plates’ that reflect each singer’s style. The focus of the evening will be on Spring planting songs, songs about resurrection, and foods that mark this seasonal juncture (eggs, sprouts and seeds, etc.). We will share a meal seasoned with song.

“Sing for Your Supper” is the third installment in the food & performance cycle “Six Variations At Table” created by Communal Table for Farm City Chautauqua Assemblies at 61 Local. Communal Table hosts a monthly series of explorations into the “ways we create community through food” says Deena Lebow, one of the two founders of Communal Table along with Ame Gilbert. Each event will encourage sharing stories, teaching techniques and tasting. “Our aim is to foster mindfulness of the ways cooking and eating are communal acts.” adds Gilbert.

Communal Table is a collaborative project of artists Deena Lebow and Ame Gilbert who have
supported their artwork by cooking while slowly transforming food itself into their artwork. They
host themed salon suppers. As Gilbert says:”We highlight the art and craft of food and its
narratives — evoking questions, highlighting production and creating a sense of community.”


Farm City Chautauqua aims to create community through food (and vice versa), assembling a series of innovative and diverse events and exhibitions harking back to historic cultural gatherings started in NY and held in rural farm communities all over America. See http://farmcity.us

 Posted by at 5:56 pm
Apr 202011

My colleagues at CITIESthemagazine have spent the last year engaging the City of Amsterdam in a comprehensive planning process promoting a unified approach to urban agriculture and food system innovation.

The result of their investigation is Farming the City, a set of online mapping and information tools that will allow parties to find out about ongoing projects, to identify land available for new projects and to access information about how to launch an urban agriculture enterprise.

The team that created Farming the City has made an attractive interface that will help catalyze concerted action placing urban agriculture as an important strategy in continued improvement in plans for urban space.  I hope that the makers of Farming the City will make their tool available for use in other municipalities along with some form of open platform that will permit customization for local needs and information.  Check out the video that explains Farming the City.



 Posted by at 1:22 pm
Apr 092011

With Spring, comes seeds of change! In that spirit, I have been moved to move our Reading Circle’s date, time and place in order to meet and fete next month’s distinguished author, Carolyn Steel, whose book, Hungry City, was our scheduled reading.

Thanks to the generosity and enthusiastic support from Claire Hartten, we will all be able to discuss Hungry City with the author in the rear room at Jimmy’s No. 43, 43 East 7th Street, New York, NY 10003-8011, a spot well-known to many of you.

The date will be moved to April 21, 2011 and the time will be changed from 5-7 pm. Our regular meeting on April 26, 2011 is hereby canceled.

For those of you who are not familiar with this amazing book by Steel, then you are in for a real treat. Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives, delves into the way that cities have evolved to drive the development of the food system, offering a design basis for reforming the future of food. http://www.hungrycitybook.co.uk/

From Steel’s website: Hungry City is a book about how cities eat. That’s the quick definition. A slightly wordier one might that it’s about the eternal engine driving civilisation. Feeding cities arguably has a greater social and physical impact on us and our planet than anything else we do. Yet few of us in the West are conscious of the process. Food arrives on our plates as if by magic, and we rarely stop to wonder how it might have got there.

 Posted by at 3:55 pm
Mar 222011

We regret that we must cancel the screening of What’s Organic About Organic scheduled for tonite at 6:30p at 61 Local as part of the Chautauqua Assemblies.  Community Cooking Club will honor all tickets at its next event on April 19, 2011.  Stay tuned for confirmation that the film will be screened as part of that gathering. We regret any inconvenience that this late stage cancellation may have caused you. And, we hope to see you at all the other Chautauqua Assemblies coming up during the next few months.  Thanks for your understanding!

 Posted by at 8:50 am
Mar 172011
After our meeting on January 18, 2011 at 61 Local, the Planning Committee distilled the questions that were posed by the farmers and agronomists in the Work Group. In order to get clear understanding of the directions that we should take, we devised a survey to narrow our course of action.  Below, please find the Summary of the Survey.
Survey Conclusions:
We closed the Survey on March 11, 2011.  We got 21 responses.  Interestingly, only 11 respondents participated in our first focus group (as we distributed the survey to a wider group than our original focus group, e.g. City Farming Meetup).  Click here for an 8 page Summary of Responses.

(1) Workshop Topics represent areas of knowledge that urban farmers need but lack resources to share with peers.  Accordingly, outside experts may be required to teach these business skills.
We have drawn this conclusion comparing respondents who said “NO” when asked if they could GIVE a training versus respondents who said “YES” when asked if they wanted to RECEIVE a training.
The STRONGEST NEED for workshops is indicated in the responses with highest percentage of NO (I can’t give) coupled with the highest percentage of YES (I’d like to receive):
  • Urban Farm Business Planning 71% NO GIVE vs. 81% YES RECEIVE
  • Urban Farm Financing Options, 86% NO GIVE vs. 78% YES RECEIVE
  • Accessing, Leasing and Farming Land or Rooftops 81% NO GIVE vs. 76% YES RECEIVE
The survey results confirmed the impulse behind the Work Group meeting — Farmers need targeted assistance with business planning, accessing capital and accessing land.
(2) Urban Farm Association (UFA) - 62% of respondents said they would join a Work Group to develop and Urban Farm Association and 38% said Maybe with none saying No.  That’s a pretty strong indicator that we should proceed with this planning process.
(3) Urban Farm Association WEBSITE - All agreed that urban farmers need a central information site.  The most important areas to develop web-based tools are as follows:
  • Peer-to-Peer Knowledge Bank – Record Q and A for Future Reference = 81% in favor;
  • Resource Library – Categorized Documents & Sites for Urban Farms (Like Enterprise Budgets, etc.) = 95% in favor
  • Urban LandLink – Listing Shares, Rentals, Sales & Opportunities= 81% in favor; and
  • Funding Opportunities – Tracking Grants and Investment Possibilities = 86% in favor
(4) Collaborative Fundraising:  Of course, we all want services but we are not sure whether and how we are willing to pay!
However, 33% said Yes and 62% said Maybe (with only 1 definite No) to the question: Are you (or your organization) willing to provide staff or volunteers to help achieve some of the work described above?

Grants: When we asked if people were willing to collaborate on grants: 33% said Yes and 48% said Maybe.  That’s still a strong 81%  majority in the generally positive direction with one third ready to roll up their sleeves and help today.  A full 76% said “Yes” to providing Letters of Support with 19% saying Maybe.  Oddly, 81% said they were NOT willing to act as Fiscal Sponsor for grant applications, 0% said Yes and 19% said maybe.  Looks like we may have to form our own NonProfit for a UFA!!!
(a) Collaborations – Many entities are trying to find a way to help urban farms seeking a way to graft their own programs onto the future of urban farming.  We should share the results of our work with a clear understanding of how others will provide funding and programmatic support to NYC farmers and NYC farm organizations in our grassroots efforts to create our own local structure with resources to support this growing sector.
(b) Upcoming Workshops – Should we hold one workshop to draw more participation into the UFA and then fundraise for the remaining Workshops in the series? How should proceed? Should we approach Farm School to take this on with their already developing curriculum?
(c) Website – Who should develop this website? Should it be part of an existing organization or stand alone? What grants would help develop this site?
(d) UFA Work Group – If we call another meeting of those interested in developing the UFA, who should be invited? Only those who answered the survey? The survey respondents and the original group? What should our agenda be?
(e) Fundraising – How should we proceed? Should this be a new organization or should we pursue this as a program under an existing organization? Should each one of us elect to explore a different area for fundraising: (i) workshop development and production; (ii) website development and production; and (iii) UFA development and organization.
Please leave a comment to this posting if you have any ideas about next steps.  Thanks!
 Posted by at 2:58 pm