iEat Green - Onika Abraham-Director of Farm School NYC

February 28th, 2019

Onika Abraham, Director of Farm School NYC, is a farmer and educator with more than 15 years of experience as a senior nonprofit manager with an MBA in marketing and entrepreneurship from City University of New York’s Zicklin School of Business.

Onika joined Farm School NYC as Director in May 2014. Less than six months into her tenure, Farm School NYC faced a crippling financial situation when it did not receive a renewal of its USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program funding.  With Onika’s leadership, the School streamlined staffing, galvanized volunteers, forged new partnerships, restructured its earned income structure, developed an individual giving program, and organized the School’s first fundraising events including a film series and a play premiere. Due to these efforts, in 2015 Farm School NYC continued to offer all 20 courses to more than 50 individual students and graduated 14 certificate students – more than double the number of graduates in any prior year—with 1/6 of the budget and 1/3 of the staffing of the prior year.

A Farm School NYC teacher before she was the Director, Onika has always been drawn to growing and teaching.  After leaving her position as Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Safe Horizon in 2010, she spent the next five years with her hands in the soil—learning as much as possible about growing sustainably.  Onika’s first formal training was the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Brooklyn Urban Gardener certification program, an experiential, participatory course that focuses on sustainable horticultural practices suited to the urban environment, street tree stewardship, community engagement practices, effective teaching methods, and greening resources available in Brooklyn.

In 2012, Onika completed the Farm & Garden Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) in Santa Cruz.  The Apprenticeship provides intensive training in the concepts and practices of organic gardening and small-scale farming. The full-time program is held at the Center's 30-acre CASFS/UCSC Farm and 3-acre Alan Chadwick Garden on the UCSC campus. The Apprenticeship training program offers 300 hours of classroom instruction and 700 hours of in-field training and hands-on experience in the greenhouses, gardens, orchards, and fields. 

At CASFS, Onika valued the hands-on agricultural training but was concerned by the lack of focus on social justice—one of the pillars of Agroecology.  She served on the Social Justice Action Committee, helping expand the curriculum, diversify staff and faculty, and create more support systems for apprentices of color, including hosting the first CASFS People of Color Reunion, now an annual event which has drawn farmers from across the country each year.

Onika’s work to support farmers of color and increase the number of black farmers nationally, in particular, predates her time at CASFS.  She is one of the co-founders of Black Urban Growers and has helped organize three national Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conferences since 2010. Her commitment to this work continues in her efforts to recruit Farm School NYC students that reflect the diversity of New York City, especially those from low resource and socially disadvantaged communities, and help them achieve their professional farming goals.

 

French Lentil Stew

 

1 cup French lentils, rinsed

4 cups vegetable broth

1 onion, cut in half, then sliced into crescent moons

2 carrots, cut into chunks

1 celery, diced

1 turnips, cut into chunks   

1 Tbs. minced garlic

2 Bay leaves

1 teaspoon salt

½ t. pepper

2 Tbs. Khmeli Suneli, ( a Georgian spice)

2 Tbs. chopped cilantro or parsley

Lemon wedges for serving.

 

 

Rinse the lentils well and pick through them. Place in saucepan with the broth. Bring to a boil and add the vegetables and bay leaves. Lower heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes.

Add the garlic, salt, pepper and Khmeli Suneli. Continue cooking for 10 more minutes until desired consistency is reached.

 

If you would like, you can add some mixed greens to the stew, such as kale, swiss chard, spinach or arugula at this time, and just cook them until wilted.

 

Garnish with cilantro, and serve with rice and a lemon wedge on the side.

iEat Green - Anita Lo- Chef Author – Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One

February 21st, 2019

ANITA LO is an acclaimed chef who worked at Bouley and Chanterelle before opening the Michelin-starred restaurant annisa in the heart of Manhattan’s Greenwich Village in 2000, which she ran until it closed in 2017. Food & Wine named her one of ten Best New Chefs in America, and The Village Voice proclaimed her Best New Restaurant Chef. She has appeared on Top Chef Masters, Iron Chef America, and Chopped; in 2015, she became the first female guest chef to cook at the White House. She lives in New York City and on Long Island.

 

 

Miso Vegetable Chowder with Wakeme

 

8 cups water

5 cloves garlic

1- 2”-3” piece of ginger

1 cake of tofu (soft or firm, whichever you prefer)

1 organic onions, chopped

2 organic carrot, washed and chopped

1 turnip, peeled and diced  

1 organic broccoli, cut into florets

2 Tbs wakame- soak in 1 cup of boiling water to reconstitute

3 Tbs white miso

3 Tbs. red miso

1- 8 oz package ramen noodles, cooked according to directions

 

Fill a large pot with the water. Add the onions, carrots, garlic, ginger and turnips and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the broccoli and tofu. Drain the wakame and add to soup. Cook for another 10 minutes. Remove 1 cup of broth only, and in a separate bowl, dilute the 6 Tbs of miso in the cup of broth. Add the miso mixture back into the soup pot. Add more miso if desired for taste preferences. DO NOT BOIL THE SOUP ONCE THE MISO IS ADDED!

Keep the noodles separate and add individually to each bowl, to prevent the noodles from getting over cooked.

iEat Green - Dave Chapman Executive Director of The Real Organic Project

February 14th, 2019

Dave Chapman has been an organic farmer for 39 years and owner of Long Wind Farm in Vermont. The farm started as a mixed vegetable operation, but transitioned to growing tomatoes in soil on 2-1/2 acres of glass greenhouses. Today, Long Wind Farm sells most of its crop through the wholesale market to stores around New England.

For the past six years, Dave has been actively working to reform the National Organic Program (NOP). He is a co-founder of Keep The Soil In Organic, a grassroots effort to change the NOP. After the National Organic Standard Board failed to protect the integrity of the NOP in Jacksonville in 2017, Dave became a co-founder of the Real Organic Project, where he is the current Executive Director. The Real Organic Project is a coalition of organic farmers and advocates who have come together to protect the integrity of organic farming. Organic farmers believe this effort is needed since the current USDA National Organic Program is now permitting hydroponics and CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) to be certified as organic. An integral part of organic farming includes improving soil fertility and that animals have adequate outdoor access and pasture, and our current system is falling short of that.  

Dave is also a proud member of the Organic Farmers Association and serves on its Policy Committee, in a continuing effort to reform the NOP and represent organic farmers in Washington

 

Mushroom Bolognese with Cashew Mascarpone

1 Ib. Organic Rigatoni (whole wheat, brown rice, semolina)

1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 1-1/2 cups hot water

3 stalks celery, diced fine

3 carrots

1 red pepper, seeds removed, diced

1 onion, chopped

10 oz. assorted mushrooms, chopped

3 Tbs. tomato paste

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ cup cashews, soaked for 2 hours

½ cup red wine

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 t. dried basil

½ t. dried thyme

2 Tbs. minced garlic

¼ t. red pepper flakes (optional)

3 Tbs. chopped fresh Italian parsley

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Coat bottom of cast iron pan with olive oil. Sauté onions, carrots, celery for a few minutes, then add garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Drain the porcini mushrooms (reserve the mushroom water) and dice. Add the porcini mushrooms, along with the assorted chopped mushrooms, the dried herbs, and the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes.  De-glaze the pan with the red wine and the reserved mushroom water, and let the mixture cook down for about 10 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by half.

In a food processor, mix the drained cashews with ½ cup of fresh water. Pulse until completely smooth, scraping down sides of food processor to incorporate all of the cashews. Add cashew mixture to the sauce. Taste and adjust salt, pepper and add the parsley.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions in salted water, (al dente). Time it, so that the pasta just comes out of the water, when you are ready to mix it with the sauce. Reserve some of the pasta water to add to the Bolognese sauce if it needs to be thinned out. Garnish with parsley.

iEat Green - Qiana is the Executive Director of Just Food

February 12th, 2019

Qiana is the Executive Director of Just Food, a food justice nonprofit based in New York City that galvanizes small-scale farmers, producers, and community members throughout the region. Just Food aims to shift the power, health, and wealth of historically marginalized and under resourced communities. Building towards a sovereign and healthy food system rooted in racial, social, economic, and environmental justice is the focus of her work. Qiana earned her Food Hub Management Certificate from the University of Vermont and her B.S. in Marketing from Hampton University. She serves on the Organizational Council of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). Qiana is an active CSA member of Rock Steady Farm & Flowers, volunteer, and serves on the boards of The Point CDC and the South Bronx Farmers Market.
In addition to her food system and advocacy experience, Qiana has also worked with municipal leaders across the country to help them find unique ways to improve the financial livelihood of their residents. She worked as the Cities for Financial Empowerment Coalition (CFE) Consultant for three years and served as the Paid Sick Leave Consultant during the initial public outreach phase of the Law in 2014. Both consultancies were with the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs. 
iEat Green with Bhavani
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