Boston Public Market

Lucky Boston: earlier this year the city got an indoor, year-round farmer’s market housing local and regional vendors of food and farm products in the North End, right next door to the Friday-Saturday Haymarket produce market. HP hit the road a few weeks ago to visit Boston Public Market and we wanted to share a little tour with you here.

Boston Public Market

At the Boston Public Market, farmers, fishermen, and food producers from Massachusetts and throughout New England offer the public a year-round source of fresh, local food and an opportunity to taste, buy, and understand what our region has to offer.

Chestnut Farms raises grass-fed, hormone- and antibiotic-free beef, pork, lamb, goat, poultry, and eggs, in Central MA.

Meat counter at Boston Public Market

Inside Boston Public Market

Stillman Quality Meats is unique in that they have their own meat processing and butchering facility on-site, which spares the animals a stressful truck ride to the slaughterhouse. That translates to more ethical meat, obviously, but also more nutritious meat: the stress of transport and rough handling before slaughter cause the animals to release fear-induced adrenaline, cortisol, and steroids into their bloodstream, which humans then ingest. Yum!

Happy poultry at Boston Public Market

Happy farm at Boston Public Market

More happy beef, pork, lamb, and poultry from Lilac Hedge Farm, also in Central MA.

Happy meats at Boston Public Market

There’s much more than meat at Boston Public Market: produce, nuts, flowers, cheeses, honey, ice cream, doughnuts, beverages, chocolate…

Boston Public Market

Boston Public Market

Boston Public Market

The Kitchen at the market hosts cooking demonstrations and discussions, and non-food health offerings such as yoga and a run club.

We’d already had lunch (lobster rolls at Warren Tavern in Charlestown, a required stop when we’re in Boston), so did not try any of the prepared meals also sold at the Market, but we had a doughnut from Union Square Donuts and it was so good that it was gone before I could take a picture.

Boston Public Market is a phenomenal addition to the community and I look forward to visiting again with an empty stomach!

HP in Australia #3: Perth City Farm

At the end of the free Yellow CAT bus line* just outside downtown Perth lies an urban oasis where once a polluted scrap metal yard stood: Perth City Farm. Their motto: “Working together to create greener cities and sustainable landscapes for the future.”

Perth City Farm

Perth City Farm, managed by the non-profit Men of the Trees, not only grows organic food in the city, but also hosts workshops, seminars, art galleries, and group events. Local volunteers and those seeking training or experience tend the gardens and cafe. The founder’s dream was to create “… a place in the city with a nursery, gardens, soup kitchens; a whole educational facility where young people could tend plants, meet each other, learn skills and find respect for themselves.”

perth-city-farm-men-of-the-trees perth-city-farm-inside

The Farm hosts a Saturday morning market featuring food and personal and household products from ethical and sustainable growers and producers, and has a popular onsite cafe serving simple breakfasty fare. I visited the cafe on a Monday afternoon, the first day they were open after a 3-week holiday, to find that they’d closed a bit early due to low traffic. It turned out the farm itself is closed on Mondays so I couldn’t observe the workers bustling around–which actually was nice in that I could stroll through the quiet gardens all alone. So even though I didn’t get to try any of the cafe’s food, the trip definitely was not a bust.

perth-city-farm-inside-seating perth-city-farm-inside-path

The Farm’s Facebook page is updated often with hours, events, and photos.

*CAT buses run four free loops within the city. Best part: most people, when exiting the bus, called out “thank you!” to the driver, who thanked them right back. It’s the little things, people!

Halifax local food resources

As a new part-time Haligonian (yes, Haligonian) I felt compelled to do some research on the urban farming scene in Halifax. From a previous visit I knew about the Seaport Farmers’ Market and was excited to read about a bounty of other in-town gardens and suburban markets, farm stands, and pick-your-own farms.

Urban farming is popular in Halifax and Dartmouth. The area is home to a few small, urban CSAs and a patchwork of backyard garden plots, and a population that increasingly wants to know where their food comes from, what’s in it, and its carbon footprint.

I was working on a list of CSAs that have dropoffs in Halifax when I came across this excellent directory, which is much more comprehensive than mine was going to be. So in the interest of not duplicating effort for a lesser result, I will not compile my own list here. Thanks, Marla!

Local food resources for Halifax, Nova Scotia

List of regional CSAs, specifying which deliver to Halifax

Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market, open Tuesday through Sunday, with Friday being International Day, yum

The Grainery Food Co-op on Agricola St in Halifax, open Tuesday and Wednesday 4:00 – 6:30 PM and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 1:30 – 7:00 PM

Halifax Garden Network, with an awesome map of urban garden plots. I can’t wait to have a little treasure hunt, wandering around town with that map trying to spot the gardens.

Regional pick-your-own farms. Of course, not being from the area, I don’t know if any of these are close to Halifax. But maybe you do.

Incidental interesting fact: Halifax soil is high in lead from people dumping coal ash into their yards back in the day.

Here’s to getting to know the local food scene in Halifax.

Cheenius fights the law: Urban Chicken Keepers vs County Planning Commission

Guest post from dear friend Cheenius, who got political last night to fight for the right to keep chickens in her backyard. Go Cheenius!

Cheenius likes to stay active politically from time to time, and this evening she made it to Albemarle County’s Planning Commission meeting.  Why?  Because the topic was urban agriculture, and like all HP readers, she knows that favorable zoning is crucial to the local food and sustainability movements.  Andy Sorrell, Senior Planner for Albemarle County, gave a thorough report to the 10 commissioners on pros and cons and how other cities and counties are handling this issue.  Then the commissioners gave some initial thoughts before opening it up to the public. Cheenius, as a gardener, beekeeper, AND chicken-keeper, felt compelled to get up in front of the microphone and shout out:  “MAKE LOVE, NOT WAR!”  Well, actually, not quite.  She thanked the planners and the commissioners for moving urban agriculture forward, and said that they seemed fully capable of hashing out the details, but that they should keep in mind that if they want to impose maximum hen numbers, chickens are flock animals so they should really keep the number at 4 or more.  Also, since the county is strained for staffing, requiring permits seems like a waste of time, when you can just have reasonable regulations that can be enforced as needed.  After the standing ovation (I can’t rule out that that was only in Cheenius’ head), she sat down and realized that if there isn’t a clear zoning mandate now, then possibly she’s currently in violation on all three counts of gardening, beekeeping and chicken-keeping.  She considered running for the door, but decided that would draw even more attention to her lawlessness.  Instead, she’s confident the commissioners will ultimately do the right thing when it comes to letting county residents grow their own food.   Initial language they’re looking at adding to the County’s Comprehensive Plan:

“Urban Agriculture Objective:  Support local food production and consumption through the use of urban agricultural practices as a means for increasing access to healthy, local, and affordable foods and encouraging the productive use of vacant land.”
Cheenius gives it two eggs up!

The People’s Garden

urban garden in DC

While wandering around Washington DC, I was happy to stumble upon The People’s Garden, an urban garden near the USDA headquarters. A USDA initiative, these gardens exist all over the country as collaborations between local and national groups. They must be located on public property, and the produce is donated to those in need. From the USDA’s website:

They must benefit the community, in some cases by creating recreational spaces and in others by providing a harvest for a local food bank or shelter. They must be collaborative – that is, the garden must be created and maintained by a partnership of local individuals, groups, or organizations. And third, they should incorporate sustainable practices.

Nice job, USDA!

Alice Waters came to Charlottesville

Alice Waters visited a school in Charlottesville last week. Beyond the Flavor has a beautiful post from the event. The City Schoolyard Garden Facebook page has several more pictures.

Who: Alice Waters, celebrated chef and owner of Chez Panisse, a Berkeley, CA restaurant consistently ranked among the world’s best. She is an author, and an activist for local, organic food; school lunch reform; and related education and outreach efforts.

What: Ms. Waters visited the City Schoolyard Garden at Buford Middle School, which is inspired by the Edible Schoolyard Project, which was created by Waters, and parents and staff from Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley.

When: April 18th, a dreary, rainy day.

Where: The City Schoolyard Garden at Buford Middle School, where students get hands-on learning about gardening, cooking, nutrition, and science.

Why: Ms. Waters came to Charlottesville to speak about the importance of schoolyard gardens and show her support for the City Schoolyard Garden at Buford. From a description of Chez Panisse Foundation’s mission:

Using food systems as a unifying concept, students learn how to grow, harvest, and prepare nutritious seasonal produce. Experiences in the kitchen and garden foster a better understanding of how the natural world sustains us, and promote the environmental and social well being of our school community.


Suburban renewal

Guest post from Buzzy! Thanks, Buzzy!

Sometimes Buzzy likes to relax after a tough day of beekeeping, and what better way than with the most locavore tea she can find?   I was curious to see what I could forage from my own suburban lot, so I gathered dandelions from the lawn for dandelion tea.

I knew all parts of a dandelion were edible, and while a dandelion root tea has all kinds of medicinal benefits, the fluffy yellow flowers will work as well.

So, after a few minutes of picking, rinsing, and pulling out the little tufts of yellow petals, I packed them in a tea ball and allowed 5 minutes of steeping.  The result, with my very own honey, was a little like chamomile tea, and really quite good.

Random happy-farming news

I have a zillion articles waiting to be read! Here are a few blurbs I’ve enjoyed as I work through my pile of mail:

urban farming trend

From Heifer International‘s WorldArk magazine: Urban farming, in the form of windowbox gardens and backyard chickens, is on the rise in the US.

Also in WorldArk, scientists are experimenting with growing meat from stem cells, hoping for a cleaner process for mass-producing meat.

Gotham Greens

From the JW Townsend, a landscape contractor in Charlottesville, VA, newsletter, a blurb about Gotham Greens. Gotham Greens grows produce in rooftop greenhouses in Brooklyn, and supplies NYC markets and restaurants with local, sustainable food.

Switch to grass-fed beef

From Reader’s Digest, Feb 2012: an article called “The 20 Tips Health Pros Beg You Not to Skip.” Number 19, from a psychiatrist, is “switch to grass-fed beef,” for the health benefits.

Hyatt commits to cage-free eggs

From Mary Jane’s Farm, Aug-Sept 2011 issue, good news that Hyatt Hotels & Resorts is switching to cage-free eggs. That’s 2.4 million eggs fewer per year coming from battery cages.

Facebook CEO's Food Challenge

And finally, from the same Mary Janes Farm issue (yes, a bit outdated, but still an interesting read), a paragraph about Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s personal mission to learn more about sustainable farming and meat animals. The only meat he ate last year was from animals he killed himself.

That was the easy stuff. I have a stack of Foreign Affairs magazines staring me down. I’m halfway through The Globalization of Animal Welfare; comments to come soon!


Spotted a couple interesting things today while on a run downtown (not counting the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge).

Thing 1:

An urban farm in Battery Park! The goals of the Battery Conservancy include education, providing local, organic food, and bringing the community together. The farm seems like an active place during the warmer months, but alas, it was empty and quiet today.

Thing b:

I passed a shoe store window, and a sign for Alden shoes caught my attention. Can you guess why?

The Alden web site describes the superior Shell Cordovan leather of which their shoes are made, with no mention of horses. Hmm. Here‘s some interesting info on the use of horse leather in the US: the leather must come from horses that died from natural causes; horse hide makes strong, durable, waterproof leather; all horse leather produced in the US comes from a single company, Horween.

On a non-HP-related note, the memorial at the World Trade Center site looks like it’ll be amazing, whenever it’s finally finished. I hadn’t really followed the plan, but two giant reflecting pools with waterfalls will sit in the original footprints of the two towers. See details here.

Brooklyn Commune

Tired of dealing with Christmas lists and wrappings (bah humbug), I took a lunch break and turned on Chopped. One of the contestants on this episode is the co-owner and executive chef of Brooklyn Commune, Chris Scott. My ears perked up as Chef Chris described what his restaurant/market/catering operation is all about: connecting people with local, sustainable food. Clips of the chef working in an urban garden were shown while he talked about how he’d put the $10,000 prize money back into the local food scene. How could I not root for Chef Chris?

Spoiler alert: he didn’t win. But I googled around to learn more about his enterprise, and found some impressive stuff about Brooklyn Commune and about local produce in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Commune’s mission is “to help develop a personal connection between people and the food they eat.” They support local farms, CSAs, bakers, cheesemakers, and other local businesses in their quest to spread the gospel of sustainability, teach classes, and they even have plans to host field trips. (Maybe they already do, it’s an old article!) They serve as a pickup point for a couple CSAs, and right now they’re hosting a Charlie Brown Christmas tree sale. Love it! The activity on their Facebook page is a good illustration of their interest in their local community, and their importance to their neighborhood.

I was also interested to read about Prospect Farm in Brooklyn, an urban farm on a formerly vacant lot.  Their objectives are “diversity in food production and membership… [and] creating healthy soil through our community composting project and farm without chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides.” Members and Friends can purchase food from the farm: members commit 52 hours of work and $25 per year, and get a 50% discount on farm food; Friends donate $100 a year for the ability to purchase farm food at regular prices.

Brooklynites are lucky to have resources like Brooklyn Commune and Prospect Farm providing local products. Please try to do business with local food sources like these! We’re lucky to have citizens among us who care enough to make livelihoods out of producing local foods, and the best way to pay them back is to patronize the establishments they support.