Saturday, February 28, 2009

Starbucks' staff with Turf's High School Interns

Turf Conducts Community Food Surveys at Starbucks

This month Turf conducted its Community Food Survey at our neighborhood Starbucks. For an hour and a half, Turf asked Starbucks’ customers, who are residents of Parkchester, a series of questions to determine how satisfied they are with the quality of produce in the neighborhood, how much they spend on vegetables and fruits, what types of vegetables and fruits they buy regularly, and if they would be interested in buying directly from a local farmer. The 25 customers/community residents that participated in the survey were each given a free cup of Starbucks coffee. Thanks again Starbucks for supporting Turf!!!

Turf will continue to survey residents in the community until the end of March. Then results from the survey will be sent to our CSA farmer to help us better design our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Program. Below is one of Turf’s high school intern’s thoughts about the activity.

Turf Takes Over Starbucks! by Quamay/Turf High School Intern

My experience at Starbucks was very interesting. When I learned we would be doing a community food survey for families in the community I thought, “Dude, this isn’t going to be fun.” But come to find out this experience was actually great and I enjoyed it.

The whole Starbucks scene was good too. I didn’t really think we were going to get many people to participate because we were being turned down a lot at first. So we tried a couple of different approaches until we found one that worked well. It worked so well that we did more surveys than expected and met a lot of people along the way. However, I was surprised to find out that some people who did the survey actually said the produce in Parkchester was great (I didn’t really think that was possible).

At the end we met the Starbucks’ staff and took a picture with them and head home. It was a great experience and I wouldn’t mind doing it again.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What is a CSA?

Though Turf uses this blog space to share information on the sustainable food movement, we also like to share what we are doing in our community. Beginning in June, Turf will be managing Parkchester’s first CSA! The idea to start a CSA arose from residents being dissatisfied with the quality, cost, and safety of fruits and vegetables sold in the neighborhood, along with residents’ interest in eating healthy, supporting local farmers, and protecting the environment.

For folks who are unfamiliar with the term “CSA,” CSA stands for community supported agriculture, which is a unique arrangement between community members and local farmers where both work together to share the responsibility of producing and delivering fresh food. CSA members support their farm by paying an annual fee (in the winter or spring) that entitles them to a "share" of the season's harvest. Once harvesting begins, members pick-up a weekly box of fresh foods which may include produce, fruits, cheeses, eggs, meats, poultry, flowers, herbs, and preserves at a neighborhood drop-off point. One share is generally enough to feed a household of four or more. Half shares are often available for smaller households. The average cost of a share is $350-500 for a season, 18-20 weeks (June to November). A share can have 8-12 food items. Many CSAs have a core group of members that assists with running the CSA.

CSAs members have the opportunity to eat a variety of freshly picked, locally grown vegetables which still have their flavor and nutrients. Also, CSA members get to know their farmer and where their food comes from. Farmers receive capital up front to cover their operating expenses and better prices for their food, due to the absence of a middle person. CSAs also benefit the environment and community. Most CSA farmers practice sustainable farming. They use farming practices that do not harm the environment or animals, offer fair wages and safe working environments for their employees, and work to improve the economy of the communities they serve.

To find a CSA in your own community go to
Local Harvest
or contact Just Food :

If you live or work in Parkchester and would like to join Turf’s CSA, come to our first CSA meeting on Thursday, March 5, 2009 (6pm—7:30pm) at the New York Public Library (the Parkchester/Bronx branch) at 1985 Westchester Avenue.

***For more information, call 917-432-8494 or email

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Join Turf’s
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in Parkchester!

If you want to:

* Receive fresh affordable vegetables and fruits from June through November

* Buy from and support a local farmers that use sustainable farming practices

* Build your knowledge of food

* Eat healthier

What is a CSA?: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a direct market relationship in which members of the CSA are paired with and buy shares of season’s produce from a local farmer.

When and where is the first meeting: Thursday, March 5, 2009 (6pm—7:30pm) at the New York Public Library (the Parkchester/Bronx branch) at 1985 Westchester Avenue

***For more information, call 917-432-8494 or email

Turf CSA Partners include St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Just Food, and W. Rogowski Farm

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Turf High School Interns checking the quality of food available at Foodtown in Parkchester

Mapping Parkchester’s Food System

Turf’s High School Interns and volunteers will be working on a on-going food systems mapping project in order to identity the food providers in Parkchester, rate the quality and cost of their food, learn how food is transported to our community, and learn where our food actually comes from. This in-depth look at our food system will help us determine if our community food system is sustainable. Turf plans to share different stages of the project in community workshops and meetings and include our findings in larger discussions on accessing healthy affordable foods.

On Saturday, our high school interns started the project by rating the availability of fresh food in our 5 major grocery stores. Interns looked for a variety of produce (and its quality) and the availability of organic and low-fat foods and meat substitutes. Two of the five grocery stores received high ratings—C-Town (on Unionport Avenue) and Fine Fair (on Metropolitan Avenue). Both stores have a good selection of fruits and vegetables and section of the store dedicated for healthy foods. However, interns did not find organic fruits and vegetables in any of the stores visited and one of the five stores had undesirable produce for sale.

Since Saturday Turf has discovered Chang Li Supermarket (on Olmstead Avenue), which has large selection of produce and ethnic foods. Chang Li soon will soon be included in our study. Next, we plan to visit grocery stores outside of our community to compare the quality and cost of food.

Note: There is a distinction between grocery stores supermarkets which we will make reference to in our work. A grocery store is a store established primarily for the retailing of food. Large grocery stores that stock products other than food, such as clothing or household items, are called supermarkets.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Breaking Bread

I recently had an opportunity to meet with members of Parkchester Enchancement Program (PEP) for seniors, a NORC community. NORC stands for Naturally Occurring Retirement Community in which a large percentage of individuals 60/65 years of age and older reside. NORCs, such as PEP, help seniors that want to stay in the community, live independently.

PEP currently serves approx. 345 active members (some are homebound members) and provides seniors with a range of services including accessing healthcare, home assistance, and legal assistance to name a few. In addition, PEP offers a variety of activities for seniors such as computer, writing, and dance classes, along with several organized trips throughout the year.

The purpose of my recent visit to PEP was to introduce myself (and Turf) and to see if members of PEP would be interested in joining our CSA program. The answer is YES! Members expressed their interest in our CSA program in a lengthy discussion on the importance of having a sustainable food system in our community. In addition, members
took time to fill out a community food survey listing the produce they buy on a regular basis and the cost of their produce, which will be used to develop the CSA program.

Below is the recipe for low-sugar/cholesterol banana bread I baked and brought to this special meeting. PEP members said they liked it!

Banana, medium, fresh 1 eggs 2 tbsp vegetable oil 1/3 cup whole milk 1/3 cup sugar 1 tsp salt 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp low sodium baking powder 1 1/2 cup white all purpose flour

Directions :
1 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.2 Peel the bananas. Put them in a mixing bowl. Mash the bananas with a fork.3 Add the egg, oil, milk, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix well with the fork.4 Slowly stir the flour into the banana mixture. Stir for 20 seconds until the flour is moistened.5 Lightly grease the bread pan with a little oil, cooking spray or line it with wax paper.6 Pour the batter into the bread pan.7 Bake for 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean.8 Let the bread cool for 5 minutes before removing it from the pan.
Additional Information
The key to good banana bread is to use well-ripened bananas that are covered with brown speckles. Try using half whole wheat flour to add some fiber.

Makes 12 servings.