What You Don’t Know: How To Keep Helping Farms After Irene

  • September 20, 2011 8:48 am

Hurricane Irene seems like a long time ago, right?  Autumn is upon us, school has started; the summer is in the distant past.  Unfortunately, for far too many farmers in the Hudson Valley, Greene County, New Jersey, Vermont, and beyond, the effects of Irene  are still very much alive–a living nightmare. Crops, acres, entire harvests are completely underwater.  Ruined.  100 percent crop loss is uttered again and again. Our farmers need our help. Out of sight should not be out of mind.

Please take a moment to visit Just Food’s Hurricane Irene Relief page to find out how you can volunteer and donate.  Also, check out Evolutionary Organics Flood Recovery Fundraiser for more ways to contribute. Don’t forget to frequent your local farmers’ market this coming weekend–talk to farmers as you shop. You might be surprised to learn how many of them have been touched by Irene, how many people are still there selling with 30, 50, and even 70 percent crop loss back on their farms. Buy as much as you can. You can also sign up early for a 2011/2012 CSA share ASAP so a local farmer will have money they sorely need now to get going for next season.

Farmers need all of us to support them in good times as well as bad. We need to ensure our local farmers are taken care of. They feed all of us and we need them and their farms. And please spread the word.

Here are a few more links for hurricane relief efforts.  Do check them out, tell your friends:

GrowNYC Make a Contribution

GrowNYC Volunteer Opportunities

Dine Out Irene

Dine In Irene

Farms Affected

Helping Local Farmers

  • September 7, 2011 1:38 am

Though some New Yorkers think hurricane Irene was a non event it was decidedly not. My CSA farm of 11 years was flooded and has shut down for the season, as did many other farms in New York, New Jersey, and Vermont–a true eye opener re what climate change can do to local agricultural systems.

Here are some resources if you’d like to help:

Just Food Hurricane Relief Information: JustFood.org

Hudson Valley Food Network Irene Farm Relief: HVFoodNetwork.com

I’m also constantly updating information as I hear it on my Facebook page, click here.

Labor Day Sauce Fest

  • September 4, 2011 9:20 pm

I’ve been trying to post recipes most weekends, but have been derailed lately. The weekend before hurricane Irene I was down on the Jersey shore with extended family. We had a blast smoking whole fish–even using pine branches from the yard–and I was eager to write up the recipe. Instead I evacuated the barrier island we were on, leaving the smoker behind.

This week’s recipe was almost derailed by Irene, too. My mother’s birthday falls every year on/around Labor Day weekend and we tend to spend it happily laboring over sauces that will sustain us through the winter–batches of pesto and jars of several types of tomato sauce. It’s a good (tipsy) time in her kitchen. The process helps ease the pain of summer ending, and I think of the silliness all fall/winter/spring long when we defrost the glass jars of sauce for meals.

But this year it was really hard to find a box of plum tomatoes; curiously the farm stands we normally rely on didn’t have any. The day before we wanted to make sauce I started to hear stories–mainly from my CSA farmer–that the FDA was saying no produce that had been under floodwaters was allowed to be sold. Irene hit the farmland in and around the Hudson Valley–where my mom has a house–hard. My CSA farmer had planned to harvest what she still could once the waters receded. But now that was no longer possible.

Knowing that Irene had ended the season for my CSA farmer of 11 years, I headed to the Saturday farmers’ market anxious–who would I see? Who would I not see? Would people be in similarly dire straights or did some survive intact? I was greeted with a better than anticipated market full of produce and farmers. I heard many stories, some of them devastating. And I loaded up on gorgeous produce, including a box of tomatoes.

Before lunch today we did the pesto process. Before dinner we did the two tomato sauces (one was carrot/onion/lovage, the other was basil/garlic). As I type, the freezer is full as can be. And so am I. It was a bittersweet moment in the kitchen–slightly less joyous than it normally is considering. But we were all glad to have it.

MY MOM’S PERFECT* PESTO (*UNBIASED! THIS IS A FACT!)

2 stuffed cups of washed basil leaves (preferably organic/local, don’t bother drying them)

3 heaping tablespoons pine nuts

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt (depending on how salty you like it)

1 small garlic clove (go big if you like garlic)

1/3 cup olive oil (preferably organic/local though there is no local Hudson Valley olive oil)

Blend all of the above in a food processor. If not using right away, freeze as is. Defrost when ready to use.

Serve with 1 pound of pasta and tons of parmesan cheese. Tip: reserve some pasta cooking water to use as needed when mixing the pesto with the pasta.

Blurry Cellphone Shot Of Sorting Pine Nuts

Pesto Filled Freezer