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Archive for the ‘Good food’ Category

Young & Green: Mia sells “Whoa! Purple carrots!”

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Meet GrowNYC Youthmarket SUPERSTAR Mia Fanuzzi, age 16

One funny thing that customers would always say was “Whoa, purple carrots!” Purple carrots were very new to a lot of our customers and they were always really excited to learn about the vegetable.

Mia at Youthmarket

Mia at the Youthmarket

Hi, my name is Mia Fanuzzi and I attend Fieldston School as a junior. I heard about this opportunity from my dad, who has worked with the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park and GrowNYC before. I’ve only been at the Youthmarket for a few weeks to complete my community service requirement, but I’ve had a great experience so far.

It is located in front of Montefiore Hospital and a lot busier with tons more customers. By being able to work here, I’ve learned how to work with customers, work with the produce that we sell, as well as interact with the other interns. The area that the market is located in is surrounded by fast food restaurants. Being able to sell people fresh affordable food is a great feeling and by being exposed to these neighborhoods have made me want to do more for people who have less than I do. I’ve also learned a lot while working with the customers. This area is extremely diverse with many different people of different races, religions, economic classes etc… I’ve gotten to learn more about the community I live near by just watching the people who walk down the street each week.

Even though there isn’t a lot of time to be able to talk with the customers and get to know them, I’ve been able to help out this one lady who has come back every week. She bought from our market a couple weeks ago and I noticed she was carrying a lot of garbage bags full of plastic bottles. Another intern and I decided to give the bottles we used to her and she was so thankful. I am also collecting bottle caps to make a dress for my school’s fashion show. So, after I told her I was collecting the caps, the following week she dropped off a whole bag of bottle caps from her collected bottles. This small experience not only made me grateful that she remembered me, but also how big of an impact giving those bottles to her had made. This experience of working in this neighborhood has allowed me to see the little things that I don’t even have to think about in my life, could be life changing in someone else’s.

 I learned some things about the farms that the food comes from and I’ve tried many different kinds of squash that were new to me. I brought mushrooms into my meals from the market and try to get more now that the market is over. This was a very fun experience where I got to meet a lot of different people. I learned a lot about how important food is to some people, especially in an area where there are mostly working class families.

Which market do you work at? I worked at the Norwood Market.

How long have you worked for Youthmarket? I worked here to complete my community service for school, and then as an intern for the rest of the season.1st from the left

What’s the funniest or the most interesting thing you’ve overheard at the market?  My group at the market had the funniest conversations and we got along really well so it is hard to choose one thing.

 Has the market changed what you eat? Before working at the Youthmarket, my family and I have always eaten very healthy food. We buy a lot of vegetables from markets during the summer and cook at home almost every day. While working at the market and being able to take home so many leftovers, my family was able to cook even more vegetables than we did before.

Do you cook at home?  My family cooks at home probably 5 or 6 times a week. We eat out once a week and order in when there isn’t enough time to cook. My dad is the cook in the family, but I’ve taken on a lot of the cooking because my parents work late.

Do you cook for your family members?  Yes, I do a lot. I really enjoy cooking and helping out my family when they are working late. I also enjoy cooking for myself when I’m home alone. I’d say that I cook probably once a week. I enjoy helping my dad cook for all of our meals, so I cook pretty frequently. I’ve cooked since I was a child and my parents love what I make. I also make lunch for my friends when they come over or we make dinner together.

Has the market affected your future job plans? How? I’m not sure that it affected my future job plans. I do have new skills that would be helpful like customer service and handling money, but I’m not sure what kind of job I would want to do next.

Or school plans? How?  This experience helped me complete my community service requirement for school. I am also more confident talking with people and strangers at school than I was before the market.

If you’re in school now, has the market affected how you interact with teachers? I think it has a little. I was always good at talking with teachers and try to have a good connection with them. I have been more confident talking to people I don’t know, since a lot of the times the customers at the market would come and make small talk with us.

What about classmates? I think the market has helped me with some communication skills. I am more comfortable talking with strangers and maybe more with other people outside the market.

What have you learned about dealing with nasty weather (super hot or cold or rainy or windy)? The weather at the market, especially during the winter, was sometimes difficult and interfered with the amount of customers we had. During the summer, we found different ways of attracting customers by handing out pieces of watermelon when it was 90 degrees.

What about dealing with tough customers? I’ve learned how to deal with difficult customers who didn’t have the greatest patience, which was hard, but I got better as the season progressed.

What’s the most important question you think customers at the market should ask?  I think the most important thing that customers should ask is where is the food from and why is it better than other food in the supermarket? This gives the customers a chance to see why they should pay the amount they are for the food and how it bring a better lifestyle.

What’s your favorite fruit or veggie that you tried for the first time while working at the market?  I’ve actually tried all the vegetables that were at the market, but I really enjoyed eating all the different mushrooms because mushrooms weren’t a big part of my meals before this.

What’s one you’re not crazy about? I do not like kohlrabi. It was never my favorite and we did a cooking demo with it that wasn’t the best.

 What advice would you give someone who’s thinking about working for Youthmarket?  If you are thinking about working at a Youthmarket, I recommend having a positive attitude, meet and talk to as many new people as you can (interns, managers and customers), work hard and work as a team, which really pays off. 

Do you have any hobbies?  At school I am on the swim team in the winter season and I have played the flute for 8 years. I enjoy cooking, baking and so many other things.

HOMEGROWN Life: Deciding Which Vegetable Varieties to Grow

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016


HOMEGROWN-LIFE-LT-GREENAnother year has come to an end. The seed catalogs are rolling in, and as I sit here drooling over them, I keep coming across new, exciting vegetable varieties that I just have to try.

There’s a part of my brain that’s screaming at the rest of it: “Don’t fix what isn’t broken!” Year after year, I post about what I’ve learned, and one of the recurring themes is to stick with the things I know work for our area—not to risk losing productivity because I’m feeling adventurous. But really, what fun is that?

Vegetable VarietiesThere are some things I’m set on keeping the same. The Orangeglo watermelon and Bidwell Casaba have been very kind to me, unlike most other watermelon and melon varieties, so those are here to stay for the long haul. Catskill Brussels Sprouts will also probably stick around. There seem to be so few varieties of heirloom sprouts, and these do the best.

I always say not to mess around with our corn selection. We grow Bloody Butcher corn, which has served us well. It gets HUGE and gives us multiple relatively long ears on each stalk. The corn can be used fresh, or you can let it mature into a dent corn. After a failed attempt at saving seed from it and coming to the realization that we just don’t have enough space to save corn seed and avoid inbreeding depression, I’ve decided to expand my corn-growing horizons to include a flour corn, a sweet corn, and a popcorn.

Unfortunately, there’s no fast way to determine which varieties you should grow for all vegetables. Your best bet is to find varieties that were developed in areas that have a similar climate to where you live. For instance, Italian varieties will probably do best in coastal California, where we have the same basic climate. Russian varieties might serve you well if you live in colder areas. If you have a short season, choose varieties that mature quickly. This, of course, can take some research to figure out. For cool season crops, you’ll want to make sure they have enough time to develop before warm weather hits. For warm season crops, you want to give them time before the frosts come. Seed packets and catalogs include a number, usually next to the name or after the description, denoting that variety’s average number of days to maturity.

When it comes to latitude, rather than season length, onions are much more specific than most other vegetables about where they can grow. Varieties will either be long day, short day, or intermediate. If you live north of 35 degrees latitude (draw a line from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. to approximate), you’ll want to grow long-day onions. South of that, grow short-day onions. If you’re just on either side of that latitude, you can grow intermediate onions. I’ve also had good luck with long-day onions here on the 35th parallel.

Besides climate, you’ll also want to look at the size, yield, and disease resistance. If late blight is a problem in your area, choose vegetable varieties that have some resistance. If you have a small garden, choose compact or high-yielding varieties to make the most of your space.

Or you can do what I like to do and just pick a bunch of varieties to try and see which ones do best. Good luck!


Rachel on Vegetable VarietiesRachel’s friends in college used to call her a Renaissance woman. She was always doing something crafty, creative, or utilitarian. She still is. Instead of crafts, her focus these days has been farming as much of her urban quarter-acre as humanly possible. Along with her husband, she runs Dog Island Farm, in the San Francisco Bay Area. They raise chickens, goats, rabbits, dogs, cats, and a kid. They’re always keeping busy. If Rachel isn’t out in the yard, she’s in the kitchen making something from scratch. Homemade always tastes better!


HOMEGROWN Life: How to Cook the Best Thanksgiving Turkey You’ll Ever Eat

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015


HOMEGROWN-LIFE-LT-GREENIt’s November, and we all know what that means: The holidays will be here any day now! Last year we followed the Thanksgiving turkey recipe below with our own homegrown bird, and we’ll do it again this year because it’s that good: super moist, flavorful, and sure to please your guests. It takes some preparation, but in the end, it’s more than worth the effort!


This recipe will work for a 16- to 25-pound turkey. Make sure the bird is completely thawed the day before you plan to cook it, because brining it requires at least 12 hours. It’s even better if you can brine it longer. We’re doing ours a full 48 hours.


» 1 gallon unsweetened apple juice
» 6 to 8 thin slices of fresh ginger
» 2 Tbsp peppercorns
» 2 Tbsp allspice berries
» 2 Tbsp whole cloves
» 2 bay leaves
» 3/4 cup salt
» 3/4 cup granulated sugar

Combine the apple juice, ginger, and spices in a large sauce pan. Stir in the salt and sugar. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes then allow to cool completely. We’ve designated a large water cooler, similar to the one pictured at left, for brining our bird.

Unwrap the thawed turkey, remove the giblets, and place the bird in the cooler, neck end down. Pour your cooled brining liquid over the bird. Add water until the bird is completely submerged then add a bunch of ice on top to keep cool. Put the lid on the cooler and leave it undisturbed for at least 12 and up to 48 hours. (Just make sure it’s staying cold.)

» olive oil
» 2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
»  2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
» 2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
» 1/4 lb butter (1 stick), cut into pats
» 2 cups chicken broth

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Remove the bird from the brine, letting the brine drain out of the cavity. Don’t rinse the bird.

2. Coat a roasting pan with olive oil and place the bird in it, breast-side up.

3. Using your hands, separate the bird’s skin from the breast and legs. Rub the chopped herbs into the meat.

4. Place the pats of butter under the skin in various locations, including on the legs. Pour the chicken broth over the bird.

5. Cover the bird with the pan lid or foil and put the pan in the oven.

6. Roast for two hours, basting every hour. Then remove the foil and allow the bird to brown, basting every 20 minutes.

7. Continue to roast the bird until the interior temperature reaches 165F. This can take an additional 1 to 2 hours, depending on whether the bird is stuffed. When taking the temperature, make sure the thermometer is through the thickest part of the breast and not touching bone.

You’ll end up with an incredibly moist, flavorful, and tender bird. Happy Thanksgiving!

Rachel-Dog-Island-FarmMy friends in college used to call me a Renaissance woman. I was always doing something crafty, creative, or utilitarian. I still am. Instead of arts and crafts, my focus these days has been farming as much of my urban quarter-acre as humanly possible. Along with my husband, I run Dog Island Farm, in the San Francisco Bay Area. We raise chickens, goats, rabbits, dogs, cats, and a kid. We’re always keeping busy. If I’m not out in the yard, I’m in the kitchen making something from scratch. Homemade always tastes better!