Tag Archives: green

Green businesses growing in LIC

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

Environmentally friendly businesses in Long Island City are perfecting green living in an urban setting.

Coffeed, a java joint on the ground floor of the Brooklyn Grange building on Northern Boulevard, serves sandwiches, soups and salads, crafted from ingredients grown on the roof of their building. The top deck of the six-story LIC building holds an acre of farm-fresh goods, picked ripe and dropped right on the tables of patrons in the café downstairs.

“You know the guy who grows your carrots and roasts your coffee,” said Coffeed co-owner Frank Raffaele. “It’s farm to table and I’m just really happy to do that in a super, hyperlocal way.”

The eco-advocate says he intends to keep the farm going year-round, changing crops depending on the season. Currently, the rooftop oasis yields eggplant, kale, cherries, arugula and radishes. Coffeed sources most of their coffee from Africa but has it ground by a local company on Long Island. Eventually, Raffaele says he would love to grow his own beans.

Ten percent of the outfit’s sales go to City Growers, an organization that educates city children about the process and benefits of urban farming. Raffaele says it’s the first time many young people experience provincial living the beginning stages of food preparation and that many city residents miss developing a connection with the way food is grown and sourced.

“From a community standpoint, you are buying products from people who work and live in your community,” said Raffaele. “It’s just like a small town. There’s something nice that people in New York don’t have.”

While locally sourcing the best ingredients remains Coffeed’s ultimate goal, Raffaele said balancing costs and principles is complicated.

“It’s a tough niche because we want to give the best quality and source everything locally but that’s a little more expensive,” said Raffaele. “We’re trying to strike a balance.”

The farm-to-table movement isn’t limited to food. Locally-sourced flowers are gaining popularity in the neighborhood, thanks to a two-month-old business.

Debbie Demarse, owner of online flower shop NYC Farm Chic Flowers, is bringing the “farm-to-vase” movement to Long Island City, pushing the ecological and economic benefits to choosing locally-grown blooms.

Roughly 80 percent of flowers sold in the United States are imported and 50 percent of flowers shipped into the country perish en route and are thrown away before they hit the store. According to Demarse, American farmers have been forced to shut down or cut back because of the increased number of imported flowers, a trend she believes would change if people knew they had a choice.

“It’s all about education and getting the word out there,” said Demarse. “Most people don’t know there’s a choice when buying flowers.”

Demarse selects most of her flowers from growers on Long Island and a greenhouse in Hudson Valley. She has also begun working with Brooklyn Grange, the same company that partnered with Raffaele to start Coffeed.

Demarse, who buys flowers per order to cut down on the 50 percent that hit the floor, said there are no downsides or limitations to solely sourcing from local growers. The products she sells are made without harmful pesticides that have been known to cause chemical burns and cancer among famers.

Both Demarse and Raffaele hope to educate Long Island City residents about the benefits to sourcing and purchasing locally-grown and locally made items, building a self-sufficient and connected community.

Queens councilmembers score high on environmental report cards

| mchan@queenscourier.com

The scores are in — and Queens councilmembers have fared well above average in their most recent environmental report cards.

According to the New York City League of Conservation Voters’ (NYLCV) annual “Environmental Scorecard,” a record number of 22 out of 50 councilmembers achieved perfect scores. Queens, the runner-up borough, trailed the Manhattan delegation — which scored the highest average of 95 — by two points, while Brooklyn stood firm with 92 points, Staten Island with 88 and the Bronx with 76.

The annual survey examines voting and sponsorship records on 11 bills covering green buildings, transportation, sustainable food, waterfronts, clean energy and more, said officials at the nonprofit organization.

The average score for the city was 90 out of a possible 100 — up significantly from the 68 point average the Council netted last marking period from 2008 to 2009.

The borough’s top scorers included Queens Councilmembers Elizabeth Crowley, James Gennaro, Karen Koslowitz, Eric Ulrich, Peter Vallone, Jimmy Van Bramer and Mark Weprin. Each of the seven lawmakers racked up 100 point averages.

“This particular scorecard really shows that just about everybody in the Council has a very good track record on this very important set of issues,” said Gennaro, who serves as chair of Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection. “It sort of energizes us to stay the course and keep pushing on in many environmental issues that we’re currently working on. This scorecard really provided some inspiration to carry on.”

Still, not all numbers were high across the board.

The northernmost borough in the city raked in the top three lowest scores. Bronx representatives Larry Seabrook and Annabel Palma both received 64 points, while Councilmember Helen Foster flunked with 36 points.

Foster did not return calls for comment as of press time.

St. Patrick’s Day around Queens

| brennison@queenscourier.com


Queens’ St. Patrick’s parades have passed and for those that want to avoid the madness of Manhattan there are a plethora of options right here in the borough. Bars around Queens borough are serving up St. Paddy’s Day specials, so revelers can save some green.

Here are some spots around the borough to celebrate:

Austin Ale House, Kew Gardens:

Live music Friday and Saturday with a complimentary corned beef and cabbage buffet from 3-5 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day and food and drink specials all day.

Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, Astoria:

Receive a St. Paddy’s Day mug with unlimited refills on select beers for just $15. There will also be live music, $4 shots of Bushmills, $5 shots of Jameson, $6 Jager bombs, $7 Irish car bombs and $10 corned beef and cabbage with potatoes and carrots.

Bourbon Street, Bayside:

Friday the restaurant will feature a pre-St. Patrick’s Day happy hour drink specials and “green” giveaways. On St. Paddy’s Day watch the parade from the bar with live music, free corned beef and cabbage from 3-5 p.m. For those suffering a post-holiday hangover the bar has a Sunday brunch with Bloody Mary drink specials.

Donovan’s, Bayside:

The New York institution since 1966 will be serving up a traditional Irish breakfast on St. Patrick’s Day between 9-11:30 a.m. Live Irish music by The Sporting Paddies will be performed between 5-8 p.m.

Gibbons’ Home, Maspeth:

The recently reopened Irish pub will feature live Irish music Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Strawberry’s Sports Grill, Douglaston:

Darryl Strawberry’s restaurant will be featuring drink specials all day including: $2 Coors Lights, $3 domestic drafts, $3 green Jell-O shots, $4 Guinness drafts, $4 Killian’s, $5 Jameson shots and $7 car bombs. Fill up with smoked corned beef and coleslaw specials all day.

Studio Square, Astoria:

Enjoy a free corned beef and cabbage buffet between noon and 5 p.m. Wash that down with a pitcher of Killian’s Irish Red and three shots of Jameson for $18 or $2 Jameson shots.

Safari Beach Club, Bayside:

The bar will open at 8 a.m. and feature $5 Irish coffees. There will be free shots for ladies between 2-6 p.m. and live music beginning at 11 a.m.

Woodside, once the heart of Queens’ Irish-American community, still maintains a strong presence of Irish pride and features some of the best Irish pubs in the city. Stop by Sean Og Tavern, Saints and Sinners, Donovan’s Pub, Molly Blooms in neighboring Sunnyside, amongst a host of others for an authentic pub experience.


The history of St. Patrick and his parade

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


By Will Sammon

On St. Patrick’s Day, almost everyone wants to be Irish, however, not everyone really knows why. New York City, from 44th Street to 86th Street, will be the biggest site of green attire and leprechaun attitude on March 17, the date of the annual holiday. But how does any of that, and all the beer drinking, relate to the importance of St. Patrick and the origin of the parade?

The History Behind St. Patrick

The answer, as you may have guessed, is nothing. But that is not to say you should not celebrate it, especially if you are of Irish descent.

The presumption that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland is largely a myth, according to Seamus Boyle, national president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America, Inc. (AOH). He did, however, convert many Irish people to Catholicism. The Order is a Catholic Irish American fraternal organization founded in New York City in 1836. Within 200 years of Patrick’s arrival, Ireland was completely Christianized.

St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the turn of the 4th century. At the age of 16, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who attacked his family’s estate. They whisked him away to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity.

According to his writing, God’s voice told him to leave from Ireland, and after more than six years of being held captive, the saint escaped. He walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo, where it is believed he was held, to the Irish coast.

After escaping to Britain, Patrick reported that he experienced a second revelation — an angel in a dream told him to return to Ireland as a missionary.

The Parade

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade marched for the first time on March 17, 1762, 14 years before the Declaration of Independence was adopted. Today, it is the largest parade in the world, according to parade secretary Hilary Beirne.

To this day, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade remains true to its roots by prohibiting floats, automobiles and other commercial aspects in the parade. Every year 150,000 to 250,000 marchers, many bagpipe bands, politicians and approximately two million spectators lining up on Fifth Avenue, are involved in the celebration, according to the parade committee.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is run by a private corporation, The New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee. The parade workers and committee members are all volunteers.

The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York was held on lower Broadway in 1762 by a band of homesick Irish expatriates and Irish military serving with the British Army stationed in the American colonies in New York City, according to Beirne. This was a time when the wearing of green was a sign of Irish pride and was banned in Ireland. The parade participants reveled in the freedom to speak Irish, wear the green, sing Irish songs and play the pipes to Irish tunes that were deeply meaningful to the Irish immigrants who had fled their homeland.

The Parade starts at 44th Street at 11 a.m. and is held every March 17, except when March 17 falls on a Sunday; it is celebrated the day before, because of religious observances. The parade marches up Fifth Avenue, past St. Patrick’s Cathedral at 50th Street, all the way up past the Metropolitan Museum of Art and American Irish Historical Society at 83rd Street to 86th Street, where the parade finishes around 4:30 to 5 p.m.


Steinway Street goes Green

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com


Astoria’s green initiative is also beautifying the neighborhood.

Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr., Senator Michael Gianaris, Department of Transportation Queens Borough Commissioner Maura McCarthy and members of the Steinway Astoria Partnership united on September 15 for the unveiling of several environmentally-friendly additions to Steinway Street.

Among the improvements are new plants and flower baskets lining the street, and benches composed of recycled plastic that are replicas of those used during the 1964 World’s Fair.

“It’s fitting that the heart of Astoria’s shopping district, lined with both individually-owned shops and chain stores, would receive replica 1964 World’s Fair benches made of recycled materials,” said Vallone. “Steinway Street preserves small business values from a past era, with a modern twist.

It is easy being green

| jlane@queenscourier.com


The residents of Western Queens are no longer green when it comes to saving the environment.

Hundreds of people attended the first annual Western Queens Green Resources Fair on September 10 in order to learn how to live healthier, greener lives and discover green activities in the area. The fair, which was made possible by the Greening Western Queens Fund of North Star Fund, was held at the Long Island City Queens Library, located at 40-20 Broadway.

“Libraries are ultimate in reuse,” said Lynne Serpe, the fair’s organizer. “They are about learning and sharing resources. What better place to learn about being green than your local library?”

Roughly two dozen green organizations participated in the event, including Build It Green! NYC, Earth Day NY, Green Shores NYC, National Children’s Study and the Astoria Park Alliance.

Games, giveaways and eco-crafts were available at the fair, providing an enjoyable and educational day for children and adults alike. In addition, visitors had the opportunity to plant peas and beans to bring home with them and interact with Serema chickens and loads of worms.

“People have a real interest in learning how they can save money and save the environment, whether from recycling or composting or making their homes more energy efficient,” said Serpe, who also manages a Greening Initiative at five local branch libraries. “But they also want to have fun. Our eco-crafting and gardening programs are hugely popular.”