Farm Innovates to Bring Fresh, Organic Vegetables Safely to NYC
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Contact: Candice Kavakos, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.stoneledge.farm
May 2, 2020. LEEDS, NY – Stoneledge Farm, a certified organic vegetable farm located in the Catskill foothills, was getting ready for its 25th season of delivering farm shares in NY and CT when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Farmers Peter and Candice Kavakos set aside plans for a blowout celebration and restructured their packing and delivery process for the upcoming season, which starts in early June.
They decided that the best option was to pre-box shares on the farm to minimize handling of produce and time members spend at the distribution site. In the past, their distribution sites were set up market-style, with mounds of fresh vegetables piled high on tables and members milling about as they filled their bags with the bounty of the season. There was a real sense of community. This year, much of that personal touch will be done from a safe distance. In June, when the delivery season begins, Stoneledge Farm’s distribution sites will practice social distancing and most member communication will be digital.
In this uncertain time the Kavakoses are doubling down on their commitment to feeding the NY region and building their community supported agriculture program (CSA for short). In a CSA, members buy “shares” of the farm’s harvest. Their payments cover the farm’s costs, nearly all of which are incurred before the crops are ready for harvest, so farmers can concentrate on sustainable growing practices. In return, members receive a share of the harvest throughout the season, grown and delivered by a farm they know and trust.
In addition to vegetables, Stoneledge offers optional shares such as fruit, mushrooms, locally-roasted coffee, and many other foods produced sustainably on nearby farms.
Though faced with significant additional costs for boxing and packing shares, the Kavakoses were reluctant to ask members for help. At the urging of their volunteer site managers, they ended up asking members for small, optional donations. “It was a difficult call for us to consider asking members to help offset the cost of pre-boxing the shares due to the pandemic. Our hearts were so full and appreciative of the immediate response from the CSA members. Not only are they 100% behind their farmers, these dedicated members went out of their way to generously donate towards boxing the CSA shares,” says Candice Kavakos amid rounds of watering the greenhouses with her young daughter Grace.
At its core, CSA is a unique relationship of mutual support between a farm and a community It is an excellent way to invest in—and help bolster—the regional food economy. By filling essential needs locally, CSAs ensure that their communities have access to fresh food during times of emergency and not just in times of prosperity. Now more than ever, it is critical that we support farms like Stoneledge to keep the regional food supply secure and local, support growers in New York State, and ensure our access to fresh, organic food.
Stoneledge Farm’s 1,100 CSA members pick up their bounty of fresh, organic vegetables from 26 distribution sites on the Upper East Side, Chelsea, and the West Village, as well as the Bronx, Westchester county, and Fairfield county in Connecticut. The sites are operated by volunteer site managers.
Shares are still available, but sites are filling up fast. For schedule and other details, or to register, visit http://www.stoneledge.farm.