By Bohemia Agent Michael Brusasco
“Two more bites of broccoli please, and then you can go back outside.” my mother would sternly command. Itching to get back to my neighborhood game of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Leonardo, always), I would with dramatic flourish and nose plugged disdainfully bite down on the vegetable, convinced that some malevolent power created it with the sole intent to punish me for a crime I never committed.
Ah, the foibles of youth. No longer do I turn up my nose to broccoli, especially when it’s drenched in olive oil and parmesan cheese. So when a neighbor asked me to join the CORBIN HILL FOOD PROJECT (http://corbinhillfoodproject.org/) I gleefully accepted. Not only was I happy to receive broccoli locally sourced from upstate NY, but I was thrilled to know that every week I would get a plethora of fruits, veggies, and dairy products that would nourish me as I traversed uptown neighborhoods with clients in search for their perfect home.
Based in Harlem, Corbin Hill Food Project partners “with community organizations who host the Farm Share distribution once a week (once a month in the winter) in office buildings, church basements, living rooms, schools and universities, hospitals, sidewalks, and anywhere else the share can be accessed by residents of that community. All of the farmers who participate bring their produce to Corbin Hill Road Farm. Where it is then packed onto a truck and delivered to New York City.”
So once a week this summer, I headed over to a gorgeous brownstone on 120th Street between Lenox and Adam Clayton, entered the garden apartment where warm smiles and delicious smells greeted me. Rosalind Francis, lead community cook, stood in the kitchen creating samples from the week’s share. Soups, chutneys, and salsas were some of the many treats I sampled. Liked what I tasted? The recipe was included on the weekly flyer. Gave my name to a green shirted employee, and I was off to the races. Apples, pears , cherries, peaches, plums, beans, sprouts, eggs, lettuces of all shapes and sizes, sweet potatoes, squashes, chards, kales, celeries, beets, watermelons, onions, tomatoes, peppers, and of course, BROCCOLI. The list goes on and on. Every week would be different based on what the farmers produced. You never left with the same thing twice.
Walking out of the share with my “bag of health” as I affectionately called it, I would inevitably stumble upon this thought. How lucky am I to not only support local farmers and eat delicious food, but also get the chance to connect with the Harlem community. Whether chatting up chef Rosalind (free advice: flirting with the cook is never a bad thing), or discussing recipes with other customers, the act of sharing a moment with another local over the subject of great food provided a level a nourishment far beyond the bag of veggies I held. Now on the streets I see other farm share customers. We give a little nod to each other, a little smile. I go about my day knowing that I’m a little more rooted to the neighborhood I call home.
The summer farm share is over. But Corbin Hill’s winter share is going on right now, and they service all of Uptown Manhattan. It’s never too late to join so go check it out. I promise you will not be disappointed.
CORBIN HILL FOOD PROJECT
646-793-0032 (Bronx & Washington Heights)
718-578-3610 (Elsewhere in NYC)