Who We Are:
Main Street Farms is an urban aquaponics farm, organic plant nursery, and education center in Homer NY, devoted to sustainable agriculture and local food security. Our current farm is booming with veggies and Tilapia and now we are ready to expand!!
A few months ago we acquired an amazing 1.5 acre empty city lot in a low income neighborhood in Cortland, which we are now converting into the city's first urban farm. The goal is to get the farm fully planted and growing in the next month so we can continue feeding more people in our community through the on-site farm stand and our low income CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Once the farm is up and running we will open up our CSA to everyone. Just to give you an idea of some of what we are growing right now: lettuces, kale, beets, swiss chard, cilantro, dill, basil, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, radishes, summer squash, and zucchini.
We have already partnered with several local organizations like Cornell Cooperative Extension, Seven Valley Health Coalition, Sustainable Cortland, Cortland County Community Action Program (CAPCO) and several local schools to use our new farm as a place for education about local food, sustainable agriculture, and healthy eating. All of these organizations will have free access to space at our new farm to provide educational programing to local residents. There will even be an outdoor teaching kitchen and picnic tables for people to gather.
What We Have So Far:
Right now we are fencing off the whole farm (sorry little furry critters) with a split rail farm fence. Water and electric are on-site but need to be hooked up. All the materials for a homemade walk-in cooler using a coolbot have been purchased. Metal frames for two hundred feet of hoop houses have been aquired. A farm stand, tables, tents and signs are all ready to go.
And probably one of the most important things to have when starting a new farm: plants. We have thousands and thousands of organic tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, kale, lettuce, etc. from our organic nursery ready to grow into delicious food.
What We Need Your Help With:
Starting our plants and getting them into the ground is just one step to providing fresh food to our community. To keep the plants healthy and growing we have make sure we take care of them with water, fertilizer, constant weeding, and then the harvest. Here is a list of things we need to make that happen:
We need to hire an electrician and a plumber to hook up our electrical and water lines, and run them to where they need to be. ($1,500)
Drip Irrigation for the whole farm. ($1,000)
Hand tools, wheelbarrows, seeders, fertilizer. ($2,000)
Harvest crates and packaging ($1,000)
Plastic covering for the hoop houses ($1,000)
Locally hired labor-the rest
Any money raised above the ten thousand will go to pay for some of our educational programming.
The Farm Crew
Allan Gandelman: Started Main Street Farms three years ago after quitting his day job as a high school teacher. It was the horrible school cafeteria food (yuk!) that inspired Allan to grow food in the middle of where people are living so they can have a connection to how food is grown and then hopefully eat that food.
Bob Cat: Co-owner/Director of Education. Before joining the farm team two years ago Bob worked as an outdoor environmental educator where he taught children all about their natural environment.
Noah Beck: South Ave. Farm Manager. Holds a masters degree in Biology Education and Ecology and has been an avid gardener for years.
Adrianne Traub: Research Supervisor. Currently heading up our research grant on turning cafeteria waste into fish food by feeding it to Black Soldier Fly larvae.
Check our the links for some more info:
Super special thanks to the people who helped us put this video and campaign together:
Marty from http://www.iamsmallpotatoes.com/
Alex from www.studiozoot.com
and The Unknown Woodsmen for the soundtrack.
Super Duper Thanks for the people who have helped us get this far; our families, friends, Christella from Seven Valley Health Coalition, and Craig and Michelle from Coffee Mania.
Risks and challenges
When it comes to agriculture risks and challenges are abundant. During our first farm start up we made our share of mistakes around pest management (we are organic so it can be difficult sometimes), allocation of time and resources, and choosing which vegetables to grow. Now that we have learned how to deal with these difficulties we hope we won't make those mistakes again.
One of our main concerns is being located in a neighborhood of town that some people are afraid of. Traditionally the community has struggled with vandalism, theft, and limited access to fresh food. Other food access projects have fallen short by simply providing fresh food, but we know that growing the food is only one peice of the puzzle. We think our educational programming, on-site teaching kitchen and providing a place where people in the neighborhood can gather and share good food will help us overcome that.
To overcome these challenges we will be working with community members by hiring local teenagers to work along side of us. We think this community engagement along with the support of the previously mentioned organizations will help us overcome any challenges we face.
- (30 days)