Thursday, May 8, 2008

City Farms

Photo: Yue Qui, Edible Brooklyn, Spring 2008

It's a beautiful day in Brooklyn. Fittingly, there was more about spring, and food, and gardening in the NYT today: an interesting article on city farms and raising crops for cash in community gardens. Community gardening can connect to so many issues: food, health, the environment, the economy, the urban landscape, and more.

I biked by the Red Hook Farm last week and it was aglow with new plantings, small and light green, so full of potential. One thing I like about urban gardening is that it is seems so incongruous, so unlikely. How can you really grow anything in a vacant lot? But plants, like many urbanites, are tough; they fight the odds, they grow and thrive in the most unlikely of places. Love, care, work, and of course, sunlight is needed, but you'd be surprised what you can grow on a little scrap of dirt. I wish more suburbanites would rip out their lawns (or at least a small portion of it) and take advantage of the wonder of space and sunlight that they have. Maybe urban gardens can inspire, too.

What's the family dinner angle? Well, sparkling fresh food you've grown yourself is certainly appetizing, but that's not an easy order. (Believe me I don't do it, although I dream a little with my little herbs in window boxes.) So instead, support these farmers. Seek out farmer's markets, and bring your kids. The high produce time doesn't come for several weeks, but there is lettuce, spring veggies, and many lovely flowers out now. I saw "ramps," the foodie sign of spring, at the Brooklyn Boro Hall market yesterday. Your kids will probably love the tables piled high with offerings that you pick out yourself. These are not the sterile, waxed vegetables of the grocery store, wrapped in plastic and stacked under florescent lights. The warmer connection to Farmer's Market food may pique their interest in a wider variety of vegetables. And this may translate into a greater willingness to try it at the table. It's worth a try.

City Farmer's Crops Go from Vacant Lot to Market, NYT 05.07.08
Two articles in Edible Brooklyn, Spring 2008 about the Red Hook farm ("Homegrown") and a personal chef who uses CSA veggies ("Farm to Fork")
Red Hook Farmer's Market opens in June
More ramp recipes at southernfood.about.com.

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