Earlier this year, we were awarded a very generous donation from Whole Foods Market (for which there will be a special check presentation at this year’s Harvest Festival on October 19). Last week, we were chosen by Whole Foods as a site for their Northeast Region team-building volunteer event.
The team, which was comprised of trainers and other team-members from Whole Foods Market locations across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, were a lively and friendly bunch. On Tuesday September 10, the team of about fifty volunteers set to work on their projects: (1) digging a trench for our new park-wide compost system; (2) beautifying the benches along the Hudson promenade; and (3) weeding our education beds in the farm in preparation for fall semester school planting.
In just three hours of work, the team accomplished a lot! Whole Foods Market volunteers…
- removed three full wheelbarrows of weeds from the farm
- planted 100 perennial plants in the gardens
- swept and cleaned the Gardens of Remembrance
- sanded and stained benches along the Hudson promenade
We thank the volunteers for their hard work, and are glad to have had the opportunity to meet some of the smiling faces behind the 5% Day effort and to connect with surrounding area Whole Foods teams. Join us in welcoming them back to the farm in October!
Thanks to our rich and healthy soil (which seems to have recovered just fine from Superstorm Sandy), some good weather, and lots of hard work from our volunteers, apprentices and staff… the farm delivered a whopping 230 pounds of produce last week! This included FIFTY pounds of eggplant and NINETY pounds of cucumbers: a record harvest.
We are thrilled to be able to provide so much food to our Farm Share members and to God’s Love We Deliver, and are very excited to begin delivering some of these beauties to school cafeterias again (as part of the Garden to School Cafe program) in a few short weeks!
Early last week, we were excited to welcome one of nine groups of campers from CAMBA‘s After School program for an Enrichment Visit. CAMBA is a non-profit agency that provides services to 35,000+ low-income people on welfare; at risk of homelessness; living with or at risk of HIV/AIDS; immigrants and refugees; children and young adults; and other groups working to become self sufficient. We have been lucky enough to work with over 300+ youth from CAMBA this summer.
On this particular visit, the lesson “Eat Whole Foods!” focused on the distinction between whole and processed foods — for example, investigating the differences between a potato and a French fry, or tomato and ketchup.
The lesson opened with an exercise to help identify various classifications of foods. The class had to determine if the image on our graphic cards was either a whole, light processed, or heavily processed food. For example:
Can you identify which one is which?
These kinds of games are great ways for kids to build recognition skills, and to begin thinking about the foods they eat and how far removed they are from the plant or animal they originated with. While most of our Enrichment Visit campers that day – and indeed, many of us — might not spend a lot of time actually thinking about these kinds of distinctions, Farm Apprentice Nicole noted that the students were actually fairly on-point with their answers.
Following this activity, students got to explore the various whole foods growing on the farm – which included everything from amaranth, beans and beets, carrots and cucumbers, dill, and eggplant to okra, potatoes, sage, swiss chard, tomatoes, and zucchini. Of the tour, Nicole also noted that:
The kids were really attentive and intrigued to see the tomatoes growing on the farm. Most of these kids aren’t accustomed to seeing their vegetables in the growing process, still attached to their host plant. It’s fascinating to witness the moment in which kids make that realization and connection that their food comes from the ground. This was especially true for potatoes. Fast food french-fries were more familiar to them than the actual whole unrefined, un-processed potato that they come from.
After exploring the whole foods, students were finally given the opportunity to make their own lightly-processed treats! The class of 40 was divided into three groups, each of which was tasked with harvesting a different green from around the farm: sage, chard, and basil.
Once the greens were harvested and hand-washed, the kids gathered to prepare three raw pesto blends. Using hand-powered veggie choppers, each group combined their greens, along with some olive oil; salt; and a blend of lemon juice and water to make a fresh green pesto. Once complete, it was time to taste and compare the fruits of our labor with some dipping crackers.
(In case you’re wondering: while the group felt that each pesto was unique and awesome, the basil pesto gained the most praise.)
The pesto that we made was technically processed, as there was some labor involved in preparing it. But with minimal alterations and no temperature influence (i.e. heat or chilling), it retained all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients of whole and lightly-processed foods that are great sources for energy in our body.
Our goals with this lesson were to help kid distinguish between whole and processed foods; and to understand why whole foods are better for our bodies. In doing so, we hope to inform their eating choices and perhaps even spark a new interest in purchasing, preparing and eating more fresh whole foods.
The Battery Conservancy thanks CAMBA for choosing Battery Urban Farm as a site for their After School program this summer. We would also like to thank City As School and the Ettinger Foundation for the donation of the hand-powered veggie choppers that made these pestos possible!
The Battery Urban Farm team is thrilled to introduce our new Farm Education Apprentices and Lead Farmer. We are incredibly lucky to have such passionate and skilled people join our team, and hope you will join us in giving them a warm welcome!
Josie Johnson, Lead Farmer
After years of feeding her curiosity about food by learning where it comes from, how it is grown and raised, and where it goes, Josie apprenticed on two farms in central Maryland: an organic CSA farm and a biodynamic market farm. The following season she started her own organic farm on some rented land, ran a small CSA, and participated in three DC area farmers’ markets. After two years on her own farm, she started an educational farm at an independent school in Montgomery County Maryland where students learned to grow, eat, and compost their own food. Josie moved to the city and joined Battery Urban Farm as Lead Farmer in June of 2013 and couldn’t feel luckier. People often ask her “What is a farmer going to do in the city?” and she answers “Farm!”
Emmanuel Martinez, Apprentice
In his last year as an undergraduate, Emmanuel had the pleasure of taking a course taught by a retired organic farmer, and that farmer’s ardent passion for artisanal growing inspired his own interest in sustainable farming and all that surrounded it. Emmanuel’s avid mission is to enrich and stimulate his community’s environmental conscience through working on the urban farm and educating others (as well as himself). One of the many highlights of his day is traveling back home after a days work, wearing the dirt on his shirt and soil under his nails with pride.
Nicole Brownstein, Apprentice
Nicole came to the farm as a graduate student at The New School, studying Urban Policy and Management with a focus on urban food systems. She joined The Battery Conservancy in early April hoping to learn more about urban farming, having come from a background in rural farming and social justice, and is excited to stay on for the summer season. Nicole confesses to being obsessed with vegetables – so much so, that she “recently found a few Hakurei turnips and some (now crispy) kale leaves in the dryer when doing laundry. They were still good.”
Kristina Gsell, Apprentice
Kristina began growing her own food at the Columbia University Community Garden freshman year of college, and has been obsessed with the sustainable food movement ever since. After a stint working on rural organic farms in Italy, she joined The Battery Conservancy to reconnect with agriculture in the urban setting and expand her knowledge. Kristina is thrilled to be the newest addition to our team, and looks forward to purslane-turnip salads and many more tastes of the summer bounty.
Elizabeth Van Der Els, Apprentice
After working on a student farm in college and interning at an urban farm in Hartford, Elizabeth was eager to continue getting her hands dirty in the big apple! Elizabeth joined The Battery Conservancy as a farm intern in late March and is excited to continue being involved in the educational aspect of the farm. She enjoys seeing the reaction of fellow subway riders as she nibbles on leaves of raw kale, adorned with a layer of sweat and dirt after a day of working on the farm.
Thursday (June 27th) marked a major milestone for the Battery Conservancy in 2013. On this day, Whole Foods Market pledged to donate 5% of net sales from all seven Manhattan locations to The Battery Conservancy to support farm and garden education at Battery Urban Farm.
Whole Foods Market 5% Days are great examples of collaboration between non-profits and socially responsible corporations. In giving back to organizations in the community, Whole Foods Market (and Whole Kids Foundation!) puts its money where its mouth is, sourcing from local vendors and providing in-store educational signage to promote values of good food, healthy eating, and local production. This fosters a synergy of trust and shared awareness about some of the food systems and health issues we face today.
In an effort to build on this awareness, members of The Battery Conservancy team dressed their best and set out for the stores, staffing each of the 7 Manhattan locations to promote the 5% Day and our educational mission. As part of our outreach effort, each table offered a seed game wherein kids (and adults!) could match vegetables to their corresponding seeds, and a demonstration worm bin to raise interest in vermicomposting as an at-home composting option. (For example: did you know that each pound of Red Wiggler worms can go through 1-3 pounds of waste per week? Some of the larger bins can have thousands of worms. That could translate to hundreds of lbs in organic recycled waste diverted from landfills.)
At the end of the day, we are overjoyed to announce that the 5% Day raised over $66,000 to support programming at Battery Urban Farm. We are so honored to have been chosen by Whole Foods and to have been able to promote our message to eat healthy, buy locally, be mindful in our consumption and to grow good food, however and wherever we can. This was an incredible effort all around, and we whole-heartedly thank Whole Foods Market for their generosity and support.
On Saturday June 15, neighborhood volunteers and members of the Bloomberg team came out to the Battery Urban Farm in downtown Manhattan for a beautiful day of harvesting and farming at The Battery. These volunteers successfully created wood chip paths between beds which had become muddy from the rain, trellised two rows of delicious pole beans, and harvested fresh vegetables including baby mustard greens, spicy ovation salad mix, chard, and herbs. Most impressively these men and women removed 50 pounds of weeds from only a third of the farm!
All of these efforts amounted to a huge service and the Battery Urban Farm team would like to give special thanks to Bloomberg staff for generously lending a hand and their time to the Battery.
After volunteer hours on this sunny afternoon, other visitors learned how to tell the story of memorable food and garden moments at a workshop by Rebecca Pryor of The Moth and StoryCorps. After a fun and fulfilling day, a few volunteers (along with members of the community and a few curious tourists) stopped by the farm stand to bring home a selection of local, student-grown produce to savor their farm visit experience.
Join us for the next monthly event on Saturday July 20, where you can learn all about vermicomposting (composting with worms!), pitch in with the volunteer effort, and continue improving this ever-growing urban learning farm!
Support a good cause simply by picking up your groceries!
When you shop at Whole Foods Market on Thursday June 27, Whole Foods will donate 5% of net sales (from all seven Manhattan stores!) to support The Battery Conservancy and its largest education and outreach program, Battery Urban Farm.
Here, at this one-acre organic learning farm, we are educating and inspiring 2,000 youth (preK-12) from all over NYC to grow and eat healthy vegetables, to green their communities, to say things like “I would rather stay here and eat salad than go to recess“, and so much more.
Join us in our good work, and support these and other thousands of children and young adults as they become student farmers and healthy eaters!
Find the store nearest you! Here are the Whole Foods Markets that will participate in June 27th’s 5% Day:
- Tribeca: 270 Greenwich Street
- Union Square: 4 Union Square South
- Bowery: 95 East Houston Street
- Chelsea: 250 7th Avenue
- Midtown East: 226 E 57th Street
- Columbus Circle: 10 Columbus Circle
- Upper West Side: 808 Columbus Avenue
Only a handful of organizations each year are chosen to receive a 5% Day from Whole Foods so we feel very honored to have been selected.
Mark your calendars for Thursday, June 27, and get your 4th of July shopping done early! You’ll be promoting garden education, empowering student farmers, and helping to build greener communities–all with a trip to the market.
Sunset yoga. Storytelling. And a great excuse to buy some extra treats on your next grocery run.
There is a LOT of great stuff happening at Battery Urban Farm over the next couple of weeks — don’t miss out! Here’s what’s new:
Battery Urban Farm Saturday: June 15
It’s that time again: monthly Saturdays at the farm! In addition to our regular volunteer hours and farmstand, this month we are thrilled to welcome Rebecca Pryor of The Moth and StoryCorps for Food Memories: The Go-To Steps for Crafting Your Story. Also on Saturday: the farm will host two dance performances of last days / first field from Jill Sigman / thinkdance!
Here’s the full day schedule:
- Volunteer hours: 10am-1pm
- Farmstand: noon-4pm
- Dance performances: noon, 2:30pm
- Workshop: 1pm
Join us on Wednesday, July 24th (previously June 19) from 5-7pm for an evening of yoga, farm-to-fork bites, and a garden happy hour!
This event features a 45-minute yoga lesson with Joulebody founder and certified yoga instructor/personal trainer Yvette Rose, followed by a tasting of juices and hors d’oeuvres (sourced from the farm) and a glass of local wine or beer at Table Green, overlooking the harbor.
Click here to view the invitation or email Lauren Kaplan at firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase tickets. Space is limited.
Whole Foods Market 5% Day: June 27
Shop at Whole Foods on June 27 and you can support student farmers — simply by picking up your weekly groceries!
That’s right: On Thursday June 27, Whole Foods Market will donate 5% of all sales from all seven of their Manhattan stores to The Battery Conservancy — this is a huge deal, and a big honor.