East New York Farms direct urban and regional grower development

Project Overview

Project Type: Sustainable Community Innovation
Funds awarded in 2013: $14,845.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Grant Recipient: United Commuity Centers
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Deborah Greig
United Commuity Centers

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: apples, berries (other), peaches, plums
  • Vegetables: beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), leeks, onions, parsnips, peppers, radishes (culinary), sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips
  • Additional Plants: herbs


  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, technical assistance, workshop, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, community-supported agriculture, marketing management, new enterprise development, value added, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Pest Management: mulching - plastic, trap crops
  • Production Systems: holistic management, organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, soil microbiology, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, leadership development, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, urban agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    East New York Farms! will work closely the growers that sell at our farmers market to collectively impact the way in which we provide food to our unique East New York community. Our years of experience have lead us to the conclusion that individualized assistance in production, and marketing will make the greatest impact on our community and serve as a strategical template for other peer groups in the region. We propose a two pronged approach that will a) work with urban growers to better utilize their limited city growing spaces to grow culturally specific crops for the neighborhood and fill the gaps left at our market and b) help our growers increase sales and solidifying their ability to serve East New York residents by improving business planning and marketing. By supporting both hyper-local and regional market vendors we will be able to close the gaps in our ability to provide community members with much needed, fresh, affordable, culturally appropriate food and serve as an example for other local urban food hubs.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    We will pursue two main strategies- 1) Increasing urban production through Crop Planning Assistance and the production of a neighborhood specific Gardener Handbook; and 2) Increasing grower sales through local markets and better marketing strategies

    February 2013
    - The Agriculture Director will identify 20 urban growers who sell at our farmers market to reach out to for Crop Planning Assistance. She will also reach out to 5 other gardeners in our network who have yet to sell at the market.

    March 2013
    - At least 15 individual crop planning sessions will be held. Growers will work with the Agriculture Director to develop a comprehensive, individualized crop plan, and receive binder with a) multiple bed maps for succession crop planning and multiple year planning, b) a copy of their crop plan and c) tip sheets on successful varieties and high demand crops in for East New York and other rough draft tip sheets for them to give feedback on. These

    sheets will later be incorporated into the ENYF Gardener Handbook.
    - Markets & Outreach Coordinator will identify a consultant to offer marketing and business planning advice to growers through two visits to our farmers market

    April-October 2013
    - Growers will be offered a series of 8 workshops to support new innovations they are learning to implement with their crop plans. Each workshop will include information specific to growing in East New York using techniques that ENYF has adapted over the years. Each attendee will receive related supplies, for example, trellis netting and
    posts at the trellising workshop to support healthy production of solanums and curcubits, as well as draft tip sheets that will be included in the next season’s Gardener Handbook.

    July 2013
    -Farm business planning and marketing consultant will visit the market to observe and meet vendors, and develop suggestions for a future visit

    August 2013
    - Follow-up calls will be made to participating gardeners about their fall planting schedule

    August-October 2013
    - Supplies for fall crop planting (seedlings, seeds, row cover) will be distributed at ENYF workshops. Cover cropping is being studied as an essential aspect of crop rotation because limited space options in gardens leads “overcropping” beds and poor soil quality. Garlic is a high dollar and demand crop at our market and requires advanced planning regarding planting location and timing.

    September 2013
    - Farm business planning and marketing consultant will visit the market a second time to offer suggestions and observations to our vendors as a group (in a brief meeting after the market) and individually. The consultant will share suggestions for follow up with both the growers and the Markets & Outreach Coordinator.

    December 2013
    - Based on receipt tracking at our two farmers markets’ cooperative tables, 15 growers will receive a breakdown of what they sold. They will have their follow-up crop planning session to look at what crops produced and sold at the highest rates.

    January-February 2014
    - The Gardener Handbook will be finalized based on gardener feedback. The Handbook will highlight the best ways that growers can utilize ENYF assistance, as well as technical tip sheets unique to East NY, for example, producing the bitter melon varieties favored in our market.

    February 2014
    - 15 urban growers participating in the individual crop planning sessions will be invited to a gathering to talk with each other about troubleshooting, tip sheet feedback, and collaborative growing ideas (for example, not everyone needs to grow lots of tomatoes because of market saturation, but everyone might want to try to grow okra, which
    sells out quickly).

    March 2014
    - The Agriculture Director will continue work with at least 10 of the urban growers who received crop planning assistance the previous season. Growers will be determined based on their experience and interest after assistance in 2013. We will also reach out to 4 new gardeners who have yet to sell at the market.
    -80 Gardener Handbooks will be printed and distributed to growers in East NY, including those who participate in crop planning session.
    -The Agriculture Director and one urban growers will submit a proposal to co-present on our strategies, challenges, and successes at at one of the citywide gardening conferences.
    Inherent in our project is the dissemination of research project results with the urban growers and organizational partners in East NY and nearby communities. Many of these growers are not reached by other city wide urban agriculture groups or publications due to limited access to email and transportation. All of the growers and partners that we regularly work with will receive a copy of the Gardener Handbook.

    To reach an audience citywide (and beyond), especially those organizations working with growers in other neighborhoods, we will a) make a pdf format of our Handbook, including tip sheets on both growing and marketing in our community, available on our website and set up an online mechanism to track the number of downloads occurring and from whom, and b) conduct a market-based crop planning workshop at one of the citywide gardening conferences in the winter of 2014. We will design and teach this session with an urban grower and provide them a stipend for their time. Finally, we will host a meeting with citywide peer organizations to coordinate workshops and make recommendations based on 2013 experiences.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.