Food Insecurity and Brooktondale Food Pantry Capstone – Candice

Studying Food Insecurity and Volunteering at the Brooktondale Food Pantry – Capstone Project for Sustainable Farming and Food Systems – by Candice

Brooktondale Food Pantry Pickup Site
Brooktondale Food Pantry Pickup Site

I decided to do my Capstone project on food insecurity and how it related to families living in poverty. For this project, I  researched how easy it is to sink into poverty and how hard it is to get back to a stable financial life. I have also been volunteering my time at a local food pantry located right in Brooktondale.  You may think that a normal food pantry just gives out food to families in need, but this one does a lot more than just giving out food.  The Brooktondale Food Pantry has a full kitchen where it gives kids a chance to learn how to cook, and they have a full garden out back where they grow all of their vegetables for the kitchen and to give away at the food pantry.

Brooktondale Food Pantry Donations
Brooktondale Food Pantry Donations

One of the tasks that is included in volunteering at the Brooktondale Food Pantry is unloading vegetables and meats from the Southern Tier food truck that comes to Brooktondale and drops off donations. We have to sort everything out –  all the meats go together, all the cereals go together, veggies go together and so on.  Then we must inspect everything, this includes writing the date on our inventory sheet that it came to pantry and the date that it will be put out for families to take. We also have to check the expiration date and check to see if the product is damaged in any way. If it is damaged or out of date it gets put back on the truck. This is a food safety precaution that we have to follow. Some of the donations such as local fruits and vegetables are given to us from local farmers from Dryden, Cortland, Brooktondale and even Ithaca.  We also have been receiving a truck full of different kinds of breads from the Ithaca Bakery.

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Food Trail Map For Cortland County Capstone – Maria

Developing a Capstone Project and A Food Trail Map For Cortland County – by Maria

Discovering my capstone project was my first task, a project all on its own, which entailed determining what I was interested in and what was available for me to work on.  Unlike my fellow students who undertook more manual labor oriented projects, I decided I preferred the more cerebral, food systems side of our program. In fact, what originally sparked my interest in sustainable farming and local food was the discovery while living in Maryland that raw milk was in fact illegal to buy in that state, a food I was raised on here in NY. I wondered how something as simple as a food choice could be legislated, and what other issues our industrial food system has created for nourishing food procurement.

Food Trail Map of Cortland County
Draft Food Trail Map of Cortland County

I had always been interested in farmers markets, which I saw as a means to opt out of the industrial model by allowing producers to sell directly to consumers. My initial ideas led me to interview Becca Rimmel, a market manager for the Ithaca Farmers Market, as well as preliminary planning to attend the Farmers Market Federation of NY 2016 NYS Farmers Market Managers Conference and/or begin the FMM Pro: SUNY Farmers Market Managers Professional Certification Program.  But when I heard there was discussion of a potential indoor, year-round farmers market in Cortland County, I hoped that capstone project idea would to fruition over any of the other ideas.

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Caroline Elementary School Garden Capstone – Steve

Caroline Elementary School Garden – Sustainable Farming and Food Systems Student Capstone Project – by Steve

Caroline Elementary Service Learning Day
Service Learning Day

When I first signed up for this Capstone class in Sustainable Farming and Food Systems Degree I really had no idea what the class was going to consist of, but I am super happy that it is part of my degree. This class makes you go out and do things in society that you might not think about doing on your own. I have always had a deep passion for gardening, teaching kids how to garden and grow their own food, and helping them to understand where their food is coming from.

Cleanup at Caroline Elementary School Garden
Steve Supervises Compost Hauling

I decided for my project that I was going to devote my time to Caroline Elementary School and teach some kids what I have learned while helping to restore the raised beds that the third graders plant in every year. I started my time there with a service learning day, where all the kids in the whole school came together and completed projects around the school to make it look better. Some were raking, some were weeding and some were taking wheelbarrows to the compost pile. We all got shirts that said we are needed and nothing could be more truthful than that. We had a great day and a lot got done and at the end of the day we all held hands around the whole school while a drone took our pictures from the sky. Unfortunately the pictures did not turn out all that well.

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Week of October 17th – CSA Newsletter

october sunriseHowdy folks! So, we’ve made it to the home stretch of the CSA season. Only three more weeks left after this week. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the season in depth over the next few weeks but I will say that with all we endured over the course of the growing season, this has been a very successful third farm season.

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Week of October 10th – CSA Newsletter

Those Leaves, they are a changing! I truly love living in the Northeast and getting the chance to experience all the seasons. Working outside just about every day of the year gives you a great appreciation for all of Nature’s beauty and fall is always my favorite. Watching this hillsides change from afar is an amazing sight.

The farm is still busy with lots of activity. The harvest keeps coming in and preparing for the winter months and next season continues. Last week we began renovating the strawberries.

Strawberries - pre renovation
Strawberries – pre renovation

That entails removing all the “runners” or side shoots off the plants and just leaving the “mothers”, which are the main plants where we get the fruit from. Before the plants go into a dormant state for the winter, we’ll mow them down and fertilize them. Something that we experimented last year was to save some of the runners and put them in pots and keep them in the greenhouse for the winter. Come springtime we replanted them out in gaps in our beds. This year we are going to save a lot more to hopefully plant a whole new bed and have some plants for sale. We also planted one of our hoophouse areas with winter greens to have available for our farm stand and restaurants. In the coming weeks, we’ll plant the other hoophouse and greenhouse so we can produce food year round.

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Week of October 3rd – CSA Newsletter

Greetings folks,

So, what exactly happened to September? I swear it was just Labor Day. But here we are at the beginning of October. The season is moving right along as the impending cold weather seems to be approaching quickly. Even with the harvest continuing to come in, we are still progressing with getting the farm ready for the winter months. Our early cover crop of peas and oats is beautifully established.

Oats and peas cover crop in October
Oats and peas cover crop in October

I’m really looking forward to the benefits of this green manure. This past week, we continued to prepare the ground where next year’s garlic is going to be planted and got more cover crops in. This time we planted a deep-rooted tillage radish that will help to aerate the soil and add nitrogen. The hoophouse areas are ready for their winter plantings, which will happen in the next week or so. Having the hoophouses planted in the winter will allow us to continue our farm stand later in the season and have some produce to sell to Coltivare and other area restaurants.

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