Flushing food cooperative embarks on third season

By Alex Robinson

Dozens of Flushing neighbors have signed up to skip the middle man during this year’s farming season.

More than 60 residents met last weekend to relaunch Flushing’s Community Supported Agriculture initiative, which provides members with fresh organic produce straight from a local farm, organizers said.

“This is an opportunity to reach out to people in Flushing, to create educated consumers in the neighborhood and to let them know what the alternative food options are. This helps people to get organic food while supporting local farms,” said John Choe, a member of the CSA and director of One Flushing, a community-based economic development center.

The Flushing CSA was started in spring 2012 by a group of residents who were concerned about the lack of organic produce available in Flushing.

The group is part of a network of CSAs called Just Food, which helps connect residents with nearby farmers.

It was through the network that Flushing CSA found farmers Maggie Wood and Matthew Kurek from Golden Earthworm Organic Farm on Long Island.

The two attended the meeting and brought samples of fruits and vegetables the CSA’s members can expect this year.

Kurek, a chef turned farmer, started Golden Earthworm in 1996 as a small farm. He now cultivates more than 80 acres of protected land and directly serves more than 1,500 families in the city.

“I get the opportunity to meet the farmers who grow my food and visit the farm my food comes from,” said Griffin Sheahan, a CSA member and mother of two. “This instills a sense of trust and confidence, which I don’t get from mass-produced, overly processed food sold in supermarkets.”

In exchange for a $560 yearly fee, members receive a box of fresh vegetables every week from the end of May until the end of November.

“I found the food quite delicious and diverse,” said Ralph Reinertsen, a Flushing resident who joined the CSA in its first year and is now one of the group’s coordinators. “Moreover, by the end of August, I believed that I had already got my money’s worth and I still had three months more to go.”

The CSA has introduced a subsidized rate this season for low-income individuals who want to become members. Membership for these applicants will be $280, Choe said.

The Flushing CSA had 33 members in its first year and about 40 shareholders in 2013. Organizers said they hope they will be able to attract up to 60 members this year.

The CSA is open to all and those interested in signing up can apply by e-mailing [email protected].

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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