2010-03-26 / Community

Community Agriculture

By Miriam Rosenberg

Chef Marion Moses prepares some healthy and delicious stir-fry organic vegetables during the March 12 Community Supported Agriculture workshop. Chef Marion Moses prepares some healthy and delicious stir-fry organic vegetables during the March 12 Community Supported Agriculture workshop. The opportunity to buy high quality organic fruits and vegetables more cheaply than in area food stores – that is what a local organization is offering people on the peninsula who become members of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group in Rockaway.

Culinary Arts Initiative is offering residents a chance to buy shares in the CSA which will transport organic food from upstate New York to Rockaway.

“Better food is vital for good nutrition,” said Malisa Rivera, the founder and executive director of Culinary Kids CSA, last month. “Organic food is healthier because of the way they are cultivated and grown. The main drawback can be that it’s expensive – but with community supported agriculture and a share program it can become much more affordable.”

Rivera and her partner Chef Marion Moses, who is the director of programs, held their first workshops on the CSA initiative on March 12 at Peninsula Hospital Center.

For now, Culinary Arts will focus on fruits and vegetables, along with cheese.

“Going by demographics, 90 percent of those contacted want a focus on vegetables,” said Rivera.

Rivera said that people can sign up for a full share at $500 or a halfshare at $275. Shareholders can pick up their food once a week, for 20 weeks, on Saturdays from June 25 to November 6. The pick-ups will be at the Culinary Kids Urban Farm, located at Beach 30 Street and Seagirt Boulevard. Once shareholders buy in they will receive tokens for $10 worth of produce at the Culinary Kids garden.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture website a “CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production.”

Many CSAs offer a diversity of foods from fruits and vegetables to eggs, meat and milk. Some CSAs concentrate on a single item or are able to stay open all year by partnering with others to offer in-season foods when others cannot.

In ‘Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): An Annotated Bibliography and Resource Guide’ Suzanne DeMuth wrote: “Each CSA is structured to meet the needs of the participants, so many variations exist, including the level of financial commitment and active participation by the shareholders; financing, land ownership, and legal form of the farm operation; and details of payment plans and food distribution systems.”

While the oncoming Nor’easter kept people from attending the March 12 workshops, another workshop will be held at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital’s Teaching Center at 277 Beach 19 Street at the corner of Plainview Avenue in Far Rockaway on March 26. Two workshops will be held. The first will be at noon – 2 p.m. and the second from 3 – 5 p.m.

There is a June 1 membership payment deadline to sign up for the CSA. Anyone interested can contact Chefs Rivera or Moses at culinarykidscsa@ yahoo.com or call 347-321- 0423. The program accepts debit and credit cards or EBT as payment.

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