Last week, Queens County Farm Museum and the New York Farm Bureau co-hosted a reception highlighting the importance of agriculture, farming and local food production across New York state.
The Aug. 11 reception brought together federal, state and local lawmakers with farmers hailing from upstate New York and Long Island to have a crucial conversation in light of food system challenges during the pandemic.
Reports showed that COVID-19 had an impact on food-insecure individuals, food pantries, soup kitchens, gig workers and the SNAP program, among many others in New York City.
Those at the reception discussed the importance of agriculture in New York state and how lawmakers could better support the needs of farmers and improve food access for those in the city. Other topics they explored included distributing excess farm products to communities in need through programs like Nourish New York; COVID-19 challenges; better broadband access; labor issues; and mental health support.
More than two dozen attendees got the opportunity to sample New York-grown produce and other food including fruits, vegetables and dairy products.
It was a perfect summer afternoon to speak with NY farmers and sample NY-grown and produced food & beverage with the @NYFarmBureau at our very own @QueensFarm. Thanks to the NY Farm Bureau and #QueensFarm Director Jennifer Walden Weprin for bringing us together for the event. pic.twitter.com/eKeXgVWSMx
— Ed Braunstein (@edbraunstein) August 12, 2021
Also at the event, New York Farm Bureau — the state’s largest agricultural lobbying and trade organization — donated books focusing on agricultural education to Queens Farm’s Con Edison Reading Room. The donation was part of a grant from the American Farm Bureau Federation, which also provided funding for an outdoor exhibit on agriculture and diversity of New York state farms.
“The event was a big success generating many positive discussions about issues facing food insecurity and our family farms. I believe we have a lot in common. We all want to make sure everyone has access to healthy, fresh food. We all want the ability to keep food production in New York state, to reduce how far food must travel, and to have farms that can produce local food that is affordable and competitive with products coming from other states and countries,” said New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher.
Queens County Farm Museum Executive Director Jennifer Walden Weprin said that the ultimate goal is to “build a stronger, healthier food system and help every New Yorker put food on their table, one fork at a time.”
“Queens Farm has been continuously farmed since 1697 as New York City grew around it. Its place in the community has changed over the centuries, and now more than ever, Queens Farm’s public service is in demand: to grow more food to feed hungry New Yorkers, to connect New York state agriculture with New York City and to continue to educate and grow environmental citizens,” Weprin said.