Tag Archives: GrowNYC

Elmhurst Hospital pediatric patients to get Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

A wave of green is coming to Elmhurst Hospital.

Children who are currently patients in the pediatric center at the hospital located at 79-01 Broadway, as well as the patients’ families, will soon be given the option to enroll in the organization Wholesome Wave’s Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program.

The four-month program, which is expected to begin this month, will provide healthy eating and living assistance to about 100 families with children between 2 and 18 who are identified to be overweight and obese.

During the program, the families will have monthly meetings with hospital staff, including physicians and nutritionists, where they will receive counseling, learn about eating healthy, take part in surveys and also have their health and weight recorded after each month.

The families will also receive vouchers or prescriptions, with values that vary depending on household size, to use in green markets throughout the city. Once visiting the green market, the families will receive health bucks which they can use to purchase fruits and vegetables.

Every Tuesday outside of Elmhurst Hospital, GrowNYC holds the Elmhurst Greenmarket from 8 a.m to 4 p.m.

“We are hoping that doing this will expose the inner city families to fresh produce and what the green markets around the city have to offer,” said Dr. Randi Wasserman, director of pediatrics at Elmhurst Hospital. “We are very committed to making our children safer and healthier. This is just one step.”

Wholesome Wave, which has programs throughout 25 states, began the New York City initiative last year in Harlem and the Bronx, and this year added on Elmhurst Hospital as the first in Queens.

“[The program] shows [patients] they can live in the middle of New York City and still get fresh vegetables,” Wasserman said.

According to Wasserman, this program is only the beginning for the hospital, which hopes to create a healthy lifestyles program and also reach out to the community with other programs.

“It’s part of the bigger picture of our commitment to tackling [obesity] in our population and in the community,” Wasserman said. “We are hoping this will just be the beginning of a number of initiatives.”

 

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Sunnyside to celebrate summer with free food and farm festival


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Images Courtesy of Greenmarket GrowNYC

JANAE HUNTER

Sunnyside will start off green this summer.

Queens County Market will come to Sunnyside Greenmarket later this month to celebrate the beginning of the summer season with food and fun.

On June 28, Queens County Market vendors and local restaurants will join GrowNYC‘s Greenmarket farmers at the Sunnyside Greenmarket for “Sunnyside Up!,” a free food and farm festival.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., people will be able to come to Skillman Avenue by 42 and 43 streets and taste different prepared foods and drinks. The event will also include live music and activities such as face painting, balloon art, and “bike blenders,” which are bikes used to power blenders to make homemade smoothies and drinks.

Although the Sunnyside Greenmarket has been operating since 1976, this is the second year that an event like “Sunnyside Up!” has been held.

“This is the first time that prepared food will be offered at the farmer’s market.” said Caroline Hiteshew, Greenmarket’s publicity and volunteer coordinator. “Guests can expect fish and other prepared items from the vendors, and there will also be a crepe station that will be serving both sweet and savory crepes along with iced coffees.”

Other vendors and farmers at the event include Ballards Honey, Breezy Hill Orchards, King Ferry Winery and local restaurant Venturo Osteria serving eggplant crostinis, and a mixed berry and whipped mascarpone dessert.

 

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East Elmhurst students to plant, learn from school garden


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

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One East Elmhurst middle school is helping students plant a brighter future.

I.S. 227 Louis Armstrong Middle School, located at 32-02 Junction Blvd., will celebrate the groundbreaking of its school garden on May 14.

Students, parents and school officials will begin building raised garden beds by filling them with soil at the garden at 32nd Avenue and 93rd Street. The goal of the project is to connect the diverse student body to nature and to the environmental and health benefits of gardening, schools officials said.

“Students need to understand about growing. Growing and gardening is a part of their education that’s missing,” eighth-grade teacher Pauline Smith said. “I want them to be more in touch with growing things because that’s how we survive in this world. There’s nothing we eat that didn’t start from a plant.”

The school garden’s nonprofit partners include Junior Energy, NYC Composting Project at the Queens Botanical Garden, Green Thumb and GrowNYC’s Recycling Champions Program.

 

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Fresh food push comes to western Queens


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

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There’s now an oasis in the middle of a Queens food desert.

Residents of the Queensbridge Houses — a neighborhood where fresh produce is scarce — now have the option of purchasing a bag of fruits and vegetables every Wednesday afternoon, just outside their doors.

The push reflects a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, but is different in that payments run week-to-week rather than one full fee at the start of the season.

As part of the plan, initiated by GrowNYC and in connection with the Jacob Riis Settlement Houses, the healthy goods may be purchased on a weekly basis for $10 a bag. The roughly 10 items provided vary depending on the season, but promise seven days’ worth of produce for an individual or a couple who may not have had the option of fresh items before.

“If finding high-quality, fresh produce is unavailable or unaffordable, people are going to eat a lot less of it,” said GrowNYC spokesperson Olivia Blanchflower, who added that high instances of diet-related disease correlates with the lack of available fresh food.

According to Blanchflower, those who reside in the 7,000 Queensbridge-area homes only have immediate access to one supermarket.

A bulk of the items provided come directly from Green Pastures Farm located in eastern Pennsylvania, with additional fruits from New York farms added in by GrowNYC.

While each bag costs $10, Blanchflower said that the contents, when priced out, run between $13 and $18.

In an effort to assist GrowNYC’s initiative, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer allocated $10,000 to the non-profit.

“Access to healthy food options can be difficult for some residents to access in western Queens, especially seniors,” said Van Bramer. “By bringing fresh fruits and vegetables directly into a community that needs and wants them, our initiative is able to address a real need here in Queensbridge.”

Similar projects have been recently introduced in Bedford-Stuyvesant and will soon begin in East Harlem. The Queensbridge program is set to run through November.

Proposal to close Jackson Heights street for food fair


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

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A local farmers market is promoting a fresh idea for Jackson Heights — converting a serene street into a bustling bazaar.

GrowNYC’s Greenmarket, which is the only year-round farmers market in Queens, will present a proposal to Community Board (CB) 3 on January 19, hoping the Jackson Heights community supports the closing of 78th Street between 34th Avenue and Northern Boulevard every Sunday to hold a food fair.

“We found that when the street is closed, it created a much more user friendly market,” said Michael Hurwitz, director of GrowNYC’s Greenmarket program. “It will create more aisle space, making the market less crowded, and cars will not be coming through, making it safer. This will provide more space for everything, including cooking demonstrations.”

The farmers market is currently on the sidewalk of 34th Avenue between 78th and 77th streets, but Councilmember Daniel Dromm believes the slight shift will do wonders for the neighborhood hotspot.

“The farmers market is an integral part of our community, and shifting it over to 78th Street makes sense,” said the councilmember, who believes the change will ease congestion, both for passing cars and patrons of the fair. “Seventy Eighth Street is longer, and since the street will be closed, it will also be wider. It provides a little more room for expansion and provides a safety net for the people to shop there. If you go there on a Sunday afternoon, it is just a great place to be, with the farmers market and Traverse Park. It has become another landmark of community life in Jackson Heights.”

Edwin Westely, the president of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, believes the street switch will also make shopping safer and more convenient.

“Right now it becomes ‘dodge the car’ when you shop there,” said Westley, who fully supports the relocation. “The street where the market is now is much more congested.”

During the summer, the block is closed off from cars and transformed into a play street for neighborhood children. According to Will Sweeney, co-founder of the Green Alliance, which organizes the play street, the market will not interfere with the children’s recreational space.

“We believe that the street makes more sense with more people using it, and more people use it as a farmers market and play street,” said Sweeney, who has worked closely with Greenmarket in developing this plan. “We are hoping to turn it into a public plaza, with the farmers market on some days and games for kids on others.”

Jackson Heights currently has the second least park space in the five boroughs, prompting community leaders to push for the purchase of the yard at the Garden School, also located on 78th Street — across from Travers Park — to create a neighborhood piazza.

The city is currently in talks to procure the space, which is roughly 29,000 square feet, from the cash-strapped private school, but negotiations have been delayed for over a year.

“I’m hopeful an agreement can and will be reached,” Dromm said. “I’m confident the parties are working out the details.”