In Brief : Winter 2020

The latest at the Farm Hub

 

Farmscape ecology on screen

The Applied Farmscape Ecology team at the Hudson Valley Farm Hub examines nature’s and nature through two related questions: How does wild nature affect agricultural production? and, how is wild nature shaped by farming? Now this body of work is the subject of a short film produced by Oceans 8 Films scheduled to premiere this spring.  For information about future screenings join us on FB or sign up for our mailing list to receive notifications.  Click here to find out more about Oceans8 and its Hope on the Hudson series.

 

Talking about sustainability

The Hudson Valley Farm Hub participated in the Share Fair at the first annual Youth Environmental & Sustainability Summit (YESS!) held at The Ashokan Center on Feb. 7. The three-day global climate solution and leadership summit attracted over 110 students – young environmentalists in middle school and high school — from dozens of area school districts in the Hudson Valley and New York City. In addition, attendees came from Sweden and the U.K. The students learned about ways to work towards climate resilience and return to their communities with a climate action plan. The Farm Hub tabled at the event, sharing information on various initiatives that relate to sustainability and biodiversity. At the Farm Hub, we utilize practices like cover cropping and reduced tillage that address climate change by restoring the soil’s ability to capture and store carbon. “I was so pleased to see so many motivated young students at the Summit,” says Sara Katz, the education manager. “We know that finding solutions to climate change will take monumental effort. Let us foment the leadership and creativity of the next generation towards a resilient future.”

 

Members of the Language Justice team visit students at George Washington Elementary. Photo courtesy of the Kingston YMCA Farm Project.

Language Justice Visits George Washington Elementary 

In partnership with the Kingston YMCA Farm Project, members of our Language Justice and production teams visited George Washington Elementary in January and February to give bilingual presentations about growing corn for tortillas. Our growers explained the process, from seeding and harvesting to drying and processing.  With some farmers presenting in Spanish and some in English, each student had a headset that enabled them to hear simultaneous interpretation in their preferred language. After the presentation, the class used masa (a maize dough that comes from ground nixtamalized corn and used for making corn tortillas and other dishes) to form balls of dough and tortilla presses to shape the tortillas. They cooked the tortillas in the classroom and enjoyed them with optional cheese, cilantro, and slaw.

 

 

Stephanie Hsu of American Farmland Trust presenting at the “The Ins-and-Outs of School Nutrition & Farm to School” meeting last November.

Farm to School 

Our Farm-to-School initiatives continue to move forward. This past January we hosted a half-day meeting of the Farm to School Institute, a competitive program sponsored by Farm to Institution New York State (FINYS) that connects school food administrators from around the state to develop and refine their programs and bring more New York State grown food into their cafeterias. The call for applications for the 2020-2021 NYS Farm to School Institute can be found here.

We continue to work closely with organizations that are working to bring more healthy and local produce to schools. Last November we co-hosted the “The Ins-and-Outs of School Nutrition & Farm to School” event with Eat Well Kingston held at Cornell Cooperative Extension Ulster County in Kingston. The event, free and open to the public, attracted a standing room only crowd including parents, teachers and community activists. For additional information on Farm to School check out these links:

Farm to Institution New York State

Growing Opportunity for Farm to School: How to Revolutionize School Food, Support Local Farms, and Improve the Health of Students in New York, American Farmland Trust

Inside New York’s Pursuit to Bring Local Food into More Schools, Civil Eats

National Farm to School Network

 

Bilingual market

This is the first year the winter market – a partnership with the Kingston YMCA Farm Project  — was bilingual. This past season customers at the weekly winter market were greeted by signs that identified the vegetables in English and Spanish: Ajo / garlic, repollo rojo / red cabbage, col / collards, and camotes / sweet potatoes. ‘Buenas tardes’ and ‘good afternoon’ were heard often. In this language justice space, growers who cared for the crops from seed to harvest were present to engage with people about the produce in Spanish. Bilingual growers from our Language Justice team were accompanied by the Kingston YMCA Farm Project’s bilingual staff.

“It is important that we reach people in the community—not only people who speak English but people who speak Spanish and other languages—so more people can be here and eat healthier food and local food,” said Jesus Gonzalez Jr., a grower in our ProFarmer program and member of the Language Justice team. The winter market ran from November through February in the lobby of the Kingston YMCA at 507 Broadway. We will look forward to holding the market again next winter. 


Chinese New Year

We hosted a Chinese New Year Lunch and Cultural Exchange on Feb. 4 co-organized by our communications and organizational culture departments. The event involved our Language Justice team pitching in to help to celebrate a third language and the link between words, food, and culture.  The session, led by Amy Wu, Farm Hub communications manager, included a presentation about Chinese food and cultural heritage. Lunch was catered by Eng’s in Kingston, and the gathering ended with the presentation of lucky red envelopes and a vocabulary lesson.


Farmer to farmer

Did you know that around 85% of folks growing food in the U.S. are Latinx and list Spanish as their language of choice? In February our Language Justice team interpreted the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Farmer-to-Farmer meet-up held at the Poughkeepsie Farm Project. Eight of our production staff used the interpretation equipment, along with seven other Spanish speaking growers from the region. Participants learned about growing tomatoes in high tunnels, a particularly exciting topic for Farm Hub staff since we will be growing tomatoes in tunnels this season. This was the second year the Language Justice team interpreted for the workshop.

Making the event bilingual helped attract more Spanish speaking attendees at this year’s event, says Ethan Grundberg, a vegetable specialist at Cornell Cooperative Extension and one of the event’s organizers.

“As educators, we have both a strong desire and responsibility to do our best to make sure that those growers have equal access to the resources and support that we provide to vegetable farms in our region,” he says. “Working with the Language Justice team at the Hudson Valley Farm Hub has allowed us to begin to better bridge the linguistic barriers that have limited our ability to serve Spanish speaking vegetable growers in Eastern New York.”

Below are a few useful vocabulary words from the event.  

English Spanish
Fertigation Fertirrigación
Drip tape Cinta de goteo
Palletized chicken manure Estiércol de gallina paletizado
Axillary shoot Brote axiliar 

 

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