By Connor Adams Sheets
The Central Brooklyn CSA is already a huge success only two weeks after beginning to bring fresh, small-farm food to residents of Crown Heights and other sections of Brooklyn with limited access to good produce.
The Community-Supported Agriculture group is a means for city-dwellers to eat healthy food that they can feel good about, its organizers say.
Based at the Hebron SDA Church at 1256 Dean Street, the group distributes bags of vegetables dropped off each Wednesday night by the agrarians at MimoMex Farms in Goshen, N.Y., located about 46 miles from North Brooklyn.
“It’s going very smoothly. Everyone seems really happy with the quality,” Maia Raposo, a community organizer at New York City Coalition Against Hunger who is leading the CSA’s organizing, said. “People are really excited. They’ve been taking photos of what they’re doing with the produce, sending recipes, posting it on blogs.”
The NYCCAH helped facilitate the CSA in order to help provide a positive food service to an under-served neighborhood.
Members pay a fee for one or more of three distribution types: vegetables, fruit and eggs. Members can either sign up for a full share - one pick-up per week - or a half share - one pick-up every two weeks. Fruit distributions have not begun yet, so Wednesday was all veggies and eggs for the eager Brooklynites who flocked from BedStuy, Clinton Hill and all corners of Crown Heights to get bags of the tasty bounty. Spots are still available, so head to the CSA’s Web site listed below for more information or to sign up.
“Typically CSAs close intake a couple of months before the season, but we are still accepting memberships because we’re new and want to give people an opportunity to join,” said J.T. Crockett, a BedStuy resident and member of the group’s outreach team who said he and his girlfriend Emily Nickerson (see photo of the couple below) got involved in the CSA because they love to cook healthy food.
The June 23 distribution - the second of the 2010 growing season ending in November - greeted attendees with a white dry-erase board with a list of vegetables they would be getting this week: Romaine lettuce, radishes, spinach, cilantro, garlic, kale, scallions, basil, parsley and mint.
Northwest Crown Heightser Rhoda Belleza (see photo above) said she recently moved to the neighborhood from Seattle, where fresh food abounds, and that she joined in order to have a means to get good food in a city not known for such access.
So she signed up for a half share and said she was enjoying the opportunity to cook with fresh ingredients. She picked up her first half-share at the first pick-up, but attended the second distribution as a volunteer. All members must volunteer several hours over the course of the growing season to keep the CSA going strong.
"It was not as easy to get good food here, and I've always wanted to help local farmers," she said. "I made a spinach daal. It's an Indian dish with lentils, and then I made kale chips, which is really fun, and I made cilantro pesto."
Crown Heights was chosen as the location of this new CSA because NYCCAH wanted a location in Brooklyn that has a mix of income levels, Raposo said. Prices at the Central Brooklyn CSA are stepped, so that lower-income members pay less and higher-income members balance out costs by paying higher rates to join.
Also, Congressman Ed Town’s district, which includes Crown Heights, is known for being a “food desert” with limited access to food, high diabetes rates and the sixth-highest food insecurity in the country, Raposo said.
Central Brooklyn CSA Web site: http://centralbrooklyncsa.