Thursday, April 30, 2009

2nd Annual NYC Wildflower Week
May 2th—9th

The week celebrates all things green and wild in NYC. Activities include garden tours, botanical walks, lectures, and children events designed to connect people to their local environments and support landscapes that are sustainable.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Turf Community Food Survey Results

Understanding community residents’ knowledge of the food available in our neighborhood is important to Turf as we develop our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program. We wanted to know if there is an interest, need, and demand for local food in our community, in addition to learning if residents’ are willing to develop and support sustainable agriculture projects in our community.

From January 2009 to March 2009, Turf conducted our Community Food Survey to gather this important information from residents. We surveyed residents at PEP (Parkchester Enhancement Program) for Seniors, our neighborhood Starbucks and library, and at St. Raymond Community Outreach. In addition, Turf posted the survey on our blog which allowed community residents to participate in the survey on-line. Many residents surveyed were from single-person and single-parent households. Also, residents surveyed come from African American, Latino, Asian, South Asian, Jewish, and West Indian households.

Some survey results include:

--58% of the residents surveyed rated the vegetables and fruit available in our neighborhood as fair

--63% of the residents surveyed say the cost of vegetables and fruits is average
--Most residents surveyed pay $25 or more for vegetables and fruit weekly and 84% buy them in the neighborhood at Chang Li Supermarket, C-town, Fine Fair, Food Town, local delis and food stands, Gourmet Garage, and Key Food. A few residents go outside the neighborhood and shop at Pathmark, Trader Joe’s, and Union Square’s Farmers Market
--97.6% of the residents surveyed specifically by fresh vegetables and fruits weekly
--73% of the residents surveyed have, at one time, purchased vegetables and fruits either at a farmers market or directly from a local farmer
85% of the residents surveyed would be interested in buying vegetables through a CSA.

Unlike the community residents that participated in our Sustainable Agriculture Workshops, who expressed their dissatisfaction with the quality of food in the neighborhood and notice a distinct difference between locally grown food and the food available in our neighborhood, many of the residents that participated in our Community Food Survey, rated the vegetables and fruits available as fair. Turf will be doing further community studies to continue to understand residents’ knowledge of food available in the community. This recent survey will be given to our local farmer for her to gain a better sense of the community she is serving and to Just Food (who provided us with the template for this survey) to use in their evaluation of programs and services offered to community groups such as Turf.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

April 16th 2009
(all day event)
Location: Hostos Community College, 500 Grand Concourse (149th St.),
Bronx, NY
***Free for anyone between the ages of 15--24 years old,
and $20 for anyone 25 years +
(Registration required)
Conference is organized by NYC youth leaders and organizations focused on addressing health, wellness and sustainability. The day will include youth-led workshops, educational and career opportunities, hands-on cooking and gardening, performances and more.
Keynote Speakers: Josh Viertel, Slow Food USA; Donya Williams, NYC Healthy Bodegas Initiative; Tamia Moore and Youth, Hunter Science High School; and M1, of Dead Prez.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dream of Natural Foods
by Ms. Joseph (Parkchester resident)
Several decades have passed since my arrival in the United States, yet I can still remember, and sometimes dream of the abundant of fresh fish, meats, fruits, and vegetables available daily while growing up on “the land” as we called it. The word “farm” was rarely mentioned. It was “land” or “estate.” I, like many other children, was allowed to roam and what a time that was. We gathered mangos, guavas, berries, plums, and what other natural fruits we could find, not to mention the sugar canes, ripe bananas, papaws, avocados, oranges, grapefruits, and so on. Chicken, hogs, goats, cows, rabbits, or whatever the fancy, was killed and readily available for any meal to be prepared with a variety of fresh aromatic herbs and vegetables, grown around the house or kitchen. We had raw cow and goat milk and fresh eggs daily. Nothing was preserved. The butter, made from the cream of the rich scalded milk, was a natural with only a pinch of salt added. There was even an occasional bee hive that provided honey and bees wax to the joy of kids. It was always fun to steal a little piece of honey comb without getting stung by an angry bee. Boats went out to the sea daily so there was that daily catch of fresh fish and the springs provided sparkling cool water for drinking. Could anything top that! I don’t think so. My, how times have changed. Imagine the shock of moving to New York City and not being able to find that which I was accustomed to. I was introduced to the 116th St. market, where Caribbean produce could be found but it was not the same. Produce was not harvested early in the morning or overnight, neither was the meat freshly slaughtered. You see the food and produce I was accustomed to in my country was not grown with fertilizers, pesticides or chemical as preservatives. The only preserve was a little salt. The fertilizer the old folks used then was animal dung or manure as it was referred to. I guess that is what gave the fruits and vegetables that rich, succulent flavor a taste that can be identified right away.

I have now grown somewhat accustomed to the foods that are available here in the city, but if I had a choice, I would prefer nothing better than naturally grown, fresh food items over those readily available. I sometimes try to seek out freshly grown items at the farmers market when I am able to and what a difference in the taste. If you should get an opportunity to try fresh naturally grown produce, go for it, it is worth the price in taste and health benefits.

You see I grew up on an island now referred to as “Nature Isle of the Caribbean,” A small mountainous island, twenty-nine miles long and sixteen miles wide, and lies between tow French Islands Guadeloupe and Martinique. It boast a variety of natural attractions including deep river gorges, waterfalls, a boiling and fresh water lakes, and perhaps most famous for its tropical rainforests and volcanic origins. Do you know the island?
Answer: Dominica

Friday, April 3, 2009

Chang Li Supermarket by Quamay (Turf high school intern)

Chang Li is an Asian supermarket in the neighborhood, located at the corner of Olmstead Avenue and Benedict Avenue in Parkchester. This market has a great variety of foods and vegetable and fruits at low prices (strawberries are $1.99 for 16 oz. verse other stores that sell them for $3.99--$4.99). Unlike the other grocery stores that we rated in our neighborhood, Chang Li has a variety of seafood including crabs, fish, shrimp, and even more. Despite the fact that it is an Asian market, it also has a lot of American stuff we normally eat, like cereals. We were surprised to find Hannah Montana and High School Musical cereals (made by Kellogg). All in all, this is a good place to buy food and I highly recommend it.

Taqueria Tlaxcalli: A Mexican Grill Restaurant in Parkchester

Turf high school interns periodically visit restaurants that serve meals made with locally grown foods, such as Angelica Kitchen (located in the lower eastside of Manhattan). However, our interns are also looking for restaurants in our own neighborhood, that even though meals may not be made with organic, locally grown produce, they are made with homemade, fresh foods. A community resident recently recommended Taqueria (a Mexican Grill restaurant) located at 2130 Starling Avenue, Bronx, NY 10462. We wanted to review the restaurant in hopes that it will be a healthy alternative to the many fast food restaurants in our neighborhood. Below, Rupert describes his experience visiting Taqueria.

Rupert Reviews Taqueria

On Friday, April 03, 2009, we sampled the food at Taqueria. The restaurant is very small, but the people were very friendly and there was music playing while we sat and ate our food. The set up of the food and the way they gave it to us was very organized. Their chicken tacos are amazing. The taco shells are soft and the chicken was very mouth watering and scrumptious. I would have eaten more than the one I ordered, but I was full. The food here is good, from my perspective and my fellow intern’s perspective. We recommend this restaurant to people in the community.