The organic food movement is no longer just a trend, but a necessity for many consumers — as evidenced by the long lines endured at grocery stores such as Whole Foods or Traders Joe’s, and the growth of farm-to-table restaurants opening around the city.
Although many grocery businesses have expanded their supply of produce to meet this increased demand, from purple kale to beets to honey granola, Greenwich Village residents need to look no further than their local Community Supported Agriculture groups (CSA).
Throughout the country, CSAs provide urban access to fresh, organic, locally-sourced produce grown and delivered by farmers in the surrounding region through a membership program. The CSA movement continues to connect more urban neighborhoods to their local farms with over 1,000 CSA’s feeding 150,000+ people in the United States today. In most of the New York City-based CSA programs, residents have the opportunity to pay a membership fee and volunteer several hours in order to receive weekly shares of produce delivered to their neighborhood CSA base from local farms. In efforts to foster stronger community partnerships, many NYC CSAs provide direct communication between the farmers and their members, from sending out monthly newsletter updates from the farm to hosting community cooking events.
Although CSAs have grown in popularity, their history begins right here in Greenwich Village starting over twenty years ago. Originally, Greenwich Village was surrounded by farmland which produced much of the local food supply and livestock. As the city grew, however, and food preservation methods improved, locally sourced food became more and more of a rarity.
In 1991, The Roxbury Farm started the first CSA at the Union Square Greenmarket, cultivating a membership base and coordinating the delivery of weekly shares to the USQ Greenmarket. Their farm stand eventually grew into a larger-scale CSA that relocated to the Upper West Side, but that was only the beginning. By the mid-90s, there were six CSAs in the city and counting. Today, Greenwich Village neighborhoods have a number of active CSAs and the season is just starting!
Here are just a few to check out:
Founded in 2005
Pick-up Location: St. Mark’s Church on the Bowery
Farm Partner: Norwich Meadows Farm in Norwich, New York
Sample share: Chicken, Cheddar Cheeses, Honey, a variety of fruits and vegetables and more
Founded in 1996
Pick-Up Location: Sixth Street Community Center
Sample Share: Wild Alaskan Fish, eggs, olive oil, and a variety of vegetables and fruits
Founded in 2001
Operates June – November
Pick-Up Location: St. Francis Xavier Church
Farmer Partner: Stoneledge Farm in South Cairo, New York
Sample Share: Potatoes, Pop Corn, shiitake mushrooms, Fuji Apples and more
Operates on 23 Weekly-deliveries throughout the summer/fall season
Pick-up Location: Mae Mae Café
Farm Partner: Katchkie Farm in Kinderhook, New York
Sample share: Summer Squash, Watermelon, Turnips, Jalapeno peppers, and more.