Poll

Would you be interested in having a Fresh Food Box program in JH? (program details in post below!)

YES! I've read the details and looks interesting! I've posted my ideas for possible locations in the comments section!
15 (68.2%)
Nah, I've got my local fresh fruit/veggies routine down already.
7 (31.8%)

Total Members Voted: 22

Author Topic: Fresh local produce for less $$$?! Starting a Fresh Food Box program in JH!  (Read 1403 times)

Offline sarahlane61

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Hi all!

I moved to JH last year. And while I LOVE it here, one thing I've been missing is a nearby Fresh Food Box program -- a luxury I had in my previous neighborhoods and LOVED!

Fresh Food Box is a city-sponsored CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), which pools local farms for a varied selection of fruits and veggies every week. It's just $15 per week, and it's pay-per-week (no expensive seasonal commitments). At every visit you come away with a big bag of fresh seasonal goodies, and for a LOT less than it costs in stores or farmers markets. Here's more info on the program: https://www.grownyc.org/greenmarketco/foodbox

If we wanted a FFB program in JH, they'd need a spot where:
  • at least 30 people would use the service
  • 2 tables are available to use during pick-ups (3hrs/week)
  • there's room to store several items on site: tent (5 ft x 1.5 ft), box of supplies (2 ft x 2 ft), and paper bags (2 ft x 2 ft)
      https://www.grownyc.org/greenmarketco/foodboxlocationsuggestion

They'd also need a point person to donate 2-4 hours/week, which I'd be happy to do if this moves forward.

So here's what I want to know:

  • Who else is interested in having a FFB in JH? (We'd need at least 30 folks who think they'd be interested, thanks for voting with the poll!)
  • Any ideas for a location the FFB could use? (This should be an easy spot for folks to come and grab their produce, where 2 tables could be borrowed, and there's room to store some supplies.) Thanks for leaving ideas in the comments section!

Thanks in advance for any thoughts or feedback!

Offline pttango

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This sounds like a tasty and great idea! :D

Offline itsit

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 Have you considering joining FarmSpot at St Marks Church? It already in season for 2018 but sometimes plans
change and shares become available. The community vibe is great and they have a terrific baker now and a
mushroom seller and other organic needs available too. Thursday nights 5:30-8.

Offline dssjh

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FarmSpot is awesome. but it is pricey, and inflexible.

Offline sarahlane61

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Have you considering joining FarmSpot at St Marks Church? It already in season for 2018 but sometimes plans
change and shares become available. The community vibe is great and they have a terrific baker now and a
mushroom seller and other organic needs available too. Thursday nights 5:30-8.

Thanks so much for the recommendation! What I love about the FFB program is it's week-to-week but still only $15/box, so it's a great deal, plus no commitments, great produce variety each week, and no problem to skip weeks. Traditional CSAs haven't worked for me personally in the past, as you need to sign-on for a whole season, involve work shifts, they can't guarantee produce variety, and are much pricier. Especially in the summer I'm away too often for this to be feasible, so FFB is a great alternative.

Offline carrefour_ny

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I personally am a committed fan of the farmers market. Have you checked it out? No commitment, variety, and no need to participate in the logistics.

Offline sarahlane61

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I personally am a committed fan of the farmers market. Have you checked it out? No commitment, variety, and no need to participate in the logistics.

Yup, I love the farmer's market! In my previous neighborhoods, I used both. But FFB is substantially less expensive, still supports local farms, and is less time-consuming than the farmer's market.

FFB gives you a big bag of assorted goodies each week you participate, no complicated logistics, you just decide week-to-week whether you'll be participating. Plus it gave me options (if I wasn't around on farmer's market day one week, I had FFB day to the rescue, and vice versa). On weeks I was around for both, I loved getting my FFB loot, then supplementing with the farmer's market, so they're in no way mutually exclusive.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2018, 11:45:21 PM by sarahlane61 »

Offline Jeffsayyes

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Sounds like gentrification to me. Nah, just kidding, it's the good kind.


So yeah the farmers market is the best in Queens and it's on a Sunday so that is a big boon for the neighborhood. We also have supermarkets for every demographic, and that's great. That being said, I think we can handle another option. Possible location might be the new Diversity Plaza. We can probably find you space to put your stuff around there. It might be a little difficult getting committed people on here but I think it could gain speed.

Offline theplanesland

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I personally am a committed fan of the farmers market. Have you checked it out? No commitment, variety, and no need to participate in the logistics.

Yup, I love the farmer's market! In my previous neighborhoods, I used both. But FFB is substantially less expensive, still supports local farms, and is less time-consuming than the farmer's market.

FFB gives you a big bag of assorted goodies each week you participate, no complicated logistics, you just decide week-to-week whether you'll be participating. Plus it gave me options (if I wasn't around on farmer's market day one week, I had FFB day to the rescue, and vice versa). On weeks I was around for both, I loved getting my FFB loot, then supplementing with the farmer's market, so they're in no way mutually exclusive.

Call me naive, but I don't understand how this works financially. What you're saying is that this is the same produce as the Farmer's Market and CSA, but massively less expensive and with no commitment. That ... doesn't make a huge amount of sense? CSA has the commitment because the farmers demand reliability in exchange for the lower prices vis a vis selling their stuff at the farmer's market, and so they don't have to pay farmer's market rent. Why would a farmer participate in this low-cost option, or is this just a place they dump their really unwanted produce? Help me understand here.

Offline Shelby2

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Call me naive, but I don't understand how this works financially. What you're saying is that this is the same produce as the Farmer's Market and CSA, but massively less expensive and with no commitment. That ... doesn't make a huge amount of sense? CSA has the commitment because the farmers demand reliability in exchange for the lower prices vis a vis selling their stuff at the farmer's market, and so they don't have to pay farmer's market rent. Why would a farmer participate in this low-cost option, or is this just a place they dump their really unwanted produce? Help me understand here.

I was wondering that too. I thought it must be subsidized by the city, but it doesn't appear to be. This is from Edible Manhattan: "The traditional CSA model involves a relationship between one farm and a member community, hence the up-front payments. Fresh Food Box is able to be flexible and inexpensive because its produce is sourced at wholesale prices from several mid-sized farms within a 350-mile radius of New York City."

Also, another thing to note, which I guess I must have missed in the explanation above, is that you do have the commitment of having to pay for your share the week before picking it up -- kind of like placing the order and paying in advance. So there's no seasonal commitment, but you can't just show up the day of and expect to get a box.

How Fresh Food Box works:
Visit a Fresh Food Box site near you
Pay $14 (or $15 at workplace sites) in cash, credit/debit, EBT/SNAP, or Health Bucks for next week’s share
Return the following week to pick up your share containing 10-15 pounds of fresh, high-quality produce

Offline stevn

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This isn't exactly an under-served community in terms of fresh produce.

Offline Cassat

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sarahlane61 thank you for this amazing initiative! I would definitely participate.  Unfortunately I don't have any ideas for space right now. I'll try to come up with some.

Offline sarahlane61

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Sounds like gentrification to me. Nah, just kidding, it's the good kind.


So yeah the farmers market is the best in Queens and it's on a Sunday so that is a big boon for the neighborhood. We also have supermarkets for every demographic, and that's great. That being said, I think we can handle another option. Possible location might be the new Diversity Plaza. We can probably find you space to put your stuff around there. It might be a little difficult getting committed people on here but I think it could gain speed.

Thanks for the thoughts! Diversity Plaza is a great idea!

Offline sarahlane61

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I personally am a committed fan of the farmers market. Have you checked it out? No commitment, variety, and no need to participate in the logistics.

Yup, I love the farmer's market! In my previous neighborhoods, I used both. But FFB is substantially less expensive, still supports local farms, and is less time-consuming than the farmer's market.

FFB gives you a big bag of assorted goodies each week you participate, no complicated logistics, you just decide week-to-week whether you'll be participating. Plus it gave me options (if I wasn't around on farmer's market day one week, I had FFB day to the rescue, and vice versa). On weeks I was around for both, I loved getting my FFB loot, then supplementing with the farmer's market, so they're in no way mutually exclusive.

Call me naive, but I don't understand how this works financially. What you're saying is that this is the same produce as the Farmer's Market and CSA, but massively less expensive and with no commitment. That ... doesn't make a huge amount of sense? CSA has the commitment because the farmers demand reliability in exchange for the lower prices vis a vis selling their stuff at the farmer's market, and so they don't have to pay farmer's market rent. Why would a farmer participate in this low-cost option, or is this just a place they dump their really unwanted produce? Help me understand here.

Great questions! Here's an Observer article that goes into more detail: http://observer.com/2014/07/overpriced-and-underserved-how-one-group-is-fighting-food-deserts-in-nyc/

Here was my take-away: Because it's a city program through GrowNYC (the same folks who run the farmers' market) it's built to increase local produce accessibility, not to be a money-making venture. FFB sources from local middle-sized farms that are too small to compete on the national market, but too big to make a profit at farmers’ markets.

I used this service consistently for 3 years, spread out between locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and LIC Queens. Produce was always fresh, long-lasting, and varied (DEFINITELY not unwanted produce, quite the contrary).

Offline sarahlane61

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Call me naive, but I don't understand how this works financially. What you're saying is that this is the same produce as the Farmer's Market and CSA, but massively less expensive and with no commitment. That ... doesn't make a huge amount of sense? CSA has the commitment because the farmers demand reliability in exchange for the lower prices vis a vis selling their stuff at the farmer's market, and so they don't have to pay farmer's market rent. Why would a farmer participate in this low-cost option, or is this just a place they dump their really unwanted produce? Help me understand here.

I was wondering that too. I thought it must be subsidized by the city, but it doesn't appear to be. This is from Edible Manhattan: "The traditional CSA model involves a relationship between one farm and a member community, hence the up-front payments. Fresh Food Box is able to be flexible and inexpensive because its produce is sourced at wholesale prices from several mid-sized farms within a 350-mile radius of New York City."

Also, another thing to note, which I guess I must have missed in the explanation above, is that you do have the commitment of having to pay for your share the week before picking it up -- kind of like placing the order and paying in advance. So there's no seasonal commitment, but you can't just show up the day of and expect to get a box.

How Fresh Food Box works:
Visit a Fresh Food Box site near you
Pay $14 (or $15 at workplace sites) in cash, credit/debit, EBT/SNAP, or Health Bucks for next week’s share
Return the following week to pick up your share containing 10-15 pounds of fresh, high-quality produce


Thanks for the thoughts! Please see my reply to theplanesland's comment for more info on the financials/sourcing.

And that's exactly right on the week-to-week commitment (vs having to sign-on for an entire season like CSAs). Since they need to know how many folks are participating each week, you pay the week beforehand.

I never found this to be a bother: first visit I'd pay for the upcoming week (or have a friend do that for me who's also participating). If you're picking-up weekly after that, you pay and pick-up at the same time. If I took weeks off here or there, I'd start that process over. Hope that helps clarify!

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