From the Farmer- Week of Feb 3rd, 2017

Published on February 4, 2017 under From the Farmer
From the Farmer- Week of Feb 3rd, 2017
Greetings, community! Happy Black History Month! We here at the Youth Farm have been gaining steam, sowing early seeds (if you can believe it!), writing grant proposals, leading Go Green!, YLC, and Farm Club students, and preparing for a trifecta of upcoming greening conferences — see the Events listings below!

Last week, Molly had the pleasure of joining Youth Farm alum Liz Dowd (who now is a Farm Manager with the Brooklyn Grange at their Long Island City Flagship Farm), to sow early flowers like Sweet William and Foxglove. Molly joined her again this week to sow our first onion successions. The Grange has generously provided heated greenhouse space for these early sowings; certain crops take over 100 days to mature, and so need to be started now! So, we are sowing the literal and figurative seeds for the 7th year of growing and will enjoy these flowers and onions months from now! In the meantime, we’ll be nurturing their growth carefully, adjusting their location as the weather warms up: from germination chamber, where they wake slowly from dormancy on a heated mat, to heated hoop house, to unheated hoop house, to a hardening off table outdoors, to the earth itself sometime in May. Most of our over 20,000 seedlings take a journey much like this, though the majority of them are ‘woken up’ from dormancy in mid March and April.

The first seeds sown also mean planning and prepping for our growing season programs have started in earnest. Although we are still several months away from our first harvest, we have begun getting permits and paperwork in order for our Farmers Market to open in June, set up meetings with our restaurant clients to discuss produce lists, and have been finalizing details for our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. We will again be offering 30 vegetable shares and 20 flower shares for the 2017 season, and are excited to be adding a couple new flower and veg varieties to keep our members happy and coming back for more. Stay tuned for our next newsletter later this month to find out more about the CSA program, including pricing and how to sign up! We’ll also be sending out information about how to get involved this season, whether it be through a longer commitment of an internship or a variety of volunteer opportunities.

Although things are still relatively quiet with the farm, our youth programs have been making exciting progress with their lessons and community outreach. In Farm Club, we added another recipe to our repertoire, pico de gallo or chirmol as one of our Guatemalan students knows it, and lemon-ginger hot water. We talked together about the nutrients in each ingredient and health benefits for our overall wellness. This week’s activity segued into conversation about our upcoming aquaponics activity and the plants we’d like to grow for overall wellness. We’ll definitely grow salad greens but will also plant some herbs to turn into teas for various health issues that our students deal with. In other exciting news, our YLC members have been accepted to present their work on vermiculture (worm composting) at GreenThumb’s GrowTogether Conference! The team will showcase their worm tower, explain some worm biology, and will share how to begin your own bin. The presentation is scheduled for 2:15PM – 3:30PM but you won’t want to miss the other amazing workshops. Join us for a STEAM-filled, hands-on learning day, Saturday, March 25 (more info below) and network and learn from an amazing network of community gardeners and educators throughout the 5 boroughs!

In community,
Molly, Sawdayah, and Erin

FUN FACT: Growing Peanuts!In honor of Black History Month, we wanted to sing the praises of the incredible peanut, an important staple to many cultures in the African diaspora. Also known as ground nut, earth nut, goober pea, monkey nut, runner peanut, Spanish peanut, Valencia peanut, or Virginia peanut, the peanut is a native of South America and has deep roots in Latin and African cuisines.

Besides being tasty, peanuts also offer a number of health benefits. They are high in fiber and protein and are abundant in a number of important vitamins and minerals and have been shown to reduce cholesterol due to their abundance of health fats. Studies have also found that eating peanuts five times a week decreased heart disease and reduced the risk of diabetes, lowered blood pressure, and have even been found to contain the potent anti aging molecule resveratrol, the same phytochemical found in red wine and grapes.

And if that wasn’t reason enough to love peanuts, they are also beneficial to the soil and relatively easy to grow! In their native habitat, they can often be found growing wild as “pioneer plants” — plants that appear in an area that has undergone change or disturbance in its soil through development, flooding, fire, etc. Not actually a true nut, the peanut is a member of the legume family, giving it the ability perform nitrogen-fixation, or the conversion of nitrogen in the air into plant and micro-organism friendly compounds below ground. This makes the peanut an easy and beneficial crop for urban spaces, with a delicious reward!


Given the chilly weather of February, we wanted to share a version of a hearty and popular West African and Senegalese recipe. We hope to grow a species of groundnut with our youth this season, so maybe this year we can try this recipe with some our own peanuts, fresh from the farm!
(Recipe from

Creamy Peanut Stew

  • 5 tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, minced
  • 1/4 habanero pepper, minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 5 cups water or low sodium veggie stock
  • 8 leaves collard greens, ribs removed first then rolled and cut into thin ribbons
  • 3-4 Tbsp soy sauce, low sodium
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter


Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

If using fresh tomatoes:
Line a sheet pan with parchment and add the tomatoes and okra to the pan. Drizzle generously with olive oil and season with salt and fresh cracked pepper and place in the oven on the middle rack. On a separate sheet pan spread out the cubed sweet potatoes, drizzle with olive oil and roast on the upper rack until tender and slightly charred on the edges, about 25-30 minutes.

Cook the tomatoes in the oven until the tomatoes blister.  Remove, allow to cool, and peel the outer skin off the tomatoes, and set aside.

In a large pot, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until tender, about 3 minutes, careful not to burn. Add the minced ginger and diced habanero pepper and cook for another 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the tomato paste, the diced roasted tomatoes (breaking them up with the back of your spoon), and salt and pepper to taste. Add the water or veggie stock, and cook on medium for 25 minutes. Then add the soy sauce and  lemon juice and fold in the thinly sliced collard greens and cook until the collards are tender, another 15-20 minutes.  Stir in peanut butter and mix until all the peanut butter it well incorporated. Scoop out most of the collards and set aside in a small bowl (I like to remove the collards before blending the soup so the color stays bright orange.

Toss in half the roasted sweet potatoes, reserving the rest for topping, then ladle the soup into a blender, leaving 1- 1.5 cups still in the pot. Blend the soup until smooth, and pour back into the pot along with the rest of the unblended soup.  Add the collards back into the pot, stir, bring to a simmer, and serve with the garnishes.


Now for a quick and shameless plug: While the Youth Farm is a full time passion of Farmer Molly’s, she technically work part time at the farm:) Molly makes the rest of her livin’ from designing flowers — locally-grown ones — for events. Her small business Molly Oliver Flowers is partnering with local jeweler Erica Weiner to bring Brooklynites locally-grown flowers for VDay/Me Day. So just in case you’re on the hunt for a sustainable option this Feb. 14th, please check out the details for this collab: ‘In the Name of Love.’

Coming Up: Conferences
Winter is a busy time for growers.  Here are some upcoming opportunities to network with fellow growers and learn a thing or two before Spring is upon us!

City Growers Education Conference
Saturday, February 11, 9am-3pm

Making Brooklyn Bloom
Saturday, March 11, 10am-4pm

Just Food Conference
Sunday-Monday, March 12-13, 9am-5pm

Grow Together Conference
Saturday, March 25, 9am-4pm

NOFA-NY Organic Action Plan
Join NOFA-NY for a brainstorming session to create a New York Organic Action Plan!

Let’s work for the future we want! We will be holding two gatherings in New York City:

Thursday, March 9 from 7-9:30pm at Park Slope United Methodist Church, on Sixth Avenue at 8th Street, Brooklyn

Friday, March 10 from 6:30-9:30pm at the 6th Street Community Center, 638 East 6th Street, Manhattan

Free of charge! Please choose the meeting that is most convenient! Refreshments will be served.

Tell us what you think is working and what is not working for organic farming and food in NY.  Come with your ideas to help us make a plan that will build on our successes and overcome our obstacles. Share your thoughts on how NOFA-NY can create a food and farming system that is socially just, environmentally resilient, and economically vibrant. Help set NOFA priorities for organic advocacy and policy.

NOFA-NY Policy Consultant, Liana Hoodes, and Board member and farmer, Elizabeth Henderson, will facilitate.

If you love to imagine a more organic future for New York State, please RSVP to Elizabeth Henderson ( We welcome your participation in creating the organic action plan for New York. For more information about NOFA-NY, please visit

Upcoming Events
Community Solutions: Land Trusts & Cooperatives
Friday, February 3, 10am-1pm
Green Worker Cooperatives, Bronx, NY

Sharing Our Farm Traditions
Tuesday, February 7, 5:30-7pm
GreenThumb: Brownsville Rec Center

NYC Compost Project: Crazy For Composting 
Saturday, February 18, 11am-1pm
New York Botanical Garden

12th Annual Seed Celebration & Swap
Saturday, February 4, 10am-4pm
Old Stone House, Brooklyn
Mushroom Cultivation
Thursday, February 9, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Brooklyn Grange, Brooklyn Navy Yard

NOFA-NY Organic Action Plan
Thursday, March 9, 7-9:30pm
Park Slope United Methodist Church
Friday, March 10, 6:30-9:30pm
6th Street Community Center, Manhattan

Job & Opportunities
Assistant Farmer, Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger
Seasonal Educator, Added Value Farms
Seasonal Urban Farmer & Educator, Randall’s Island Park Alliance
Children’s Garden Spring Instructor, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Discovery Garden Coordinator, Brooklyn Botanical Garden
Full Time Seasonal Farmer, Active Citizen Projects, Project Eats
Assistant Farm Manager, The Youth Farm Project, Ithaca, NY
Urban Farm Manager, FRESH
New London, CT

Outreach Coordinator, New York Botanical Garden
Aquaponics Apprentice, Oko Farms