Community Gardening :


Community Garden

WESPAC has cultivated an extensive and cooperative network of food justice advocates throughout the county where we work together to enhance the existing expertise within diverse communities in the quest for a more sustainable food shed with more widespread access to fresh, local produce. We are proud of our role in promoting a more inclusive local food movement, and we continue to serve as an important resource for community gardens in the county by providing organizational and material support to both new projects and old.

Bronx Activist Eyes Vacant Lot for Urban Farm

August 23, 2013

Bronx Activist Eyes Vacant Lot for Urban Farm

by Patrick Wall

Simpson Street Urban Farm
Simpson Street Urban Farm

LONGWOOD — Tanya Fields has tried planting her urban farm in a forgotten corner of a local playground and on a long-abandoned private lot.

In each case, authorities uprooted her community garden, which she calls the Libertad Urban Farm, before it could blossom.

But after several years, the food-justice activist may have found her spot — a vacant city-owned site at 972 Simpson St. where locals once grew flowers but which has since succumbed to waist-high weeds and rodents.

Officials recently told Fields they may allow a temporary garden on the 4,300-square-foot lot, at least until potential developers emerge.

Fields envisions local farmers cultivating crops on the lot that could be sold out of her healthy-food truck, among other uses.

“This is about us taking control of our lives,” said Fields, who is converting a former school bus into a mobile farmers market. “We have all the resources we need.”

In 2009, Fields and some of her neighbors on Fox Street built raised beds and planted marigolds and a sandalwood tree in a half-acre corner of the local playground. But when the city began renovating the playground that fall, workers razed the garden and turned it into a dog park.

The following year, Fields and some fellow “guerilla gardeners” decided, after months of trying unsuccessfully to reach the private owner of a long-neglected lot, to break in and plant sunflowers there. The owner showed up with police a few days later and kicked them out.

But recently the local community board pointed Fields to the Simpson Street lot.

Even as that block sprouted new buildings and lively neighborhood associations in recent decades, the site at 972 has gone undeveloped since the city took it over in the early ’80s.

A local group planted a garden there in the ’90s but when that group dissipated, the garden did too, according to Fields.

Since then, trash continues to pile up inside the fenced-in lot and feral cats chase mice and rats through overgrown greenery that city crews rarely trim, said Frank Roberts, who has lived on the block his whole life.

“It’s been sitting there way too long,” said Roberts, 45.

Fields, who heads a small nonprofit called the BLK Projek, her intern Shantrice King and volunteers have collected dozens of signatures on a petition urging the city to give the community access to the lot.

Their efforts appear to have paid off.

A spokesman for the city’s Housing Preservation and Development Department, which controls the site, said the agency would consider allowing a temporary garden there until long-term plans for affordable housing on the site are enacted.

Parks Department officials are set to visit the site next week to determine if it qualifies for the GreenThumb program, which supports temporary community gardens on city lots.

Fields said the garden could include raised plots for residents and school groups, spots for locals to relax or congregate and rows of organic crops that could be sold in her Veggie Mobile Market bus.

A local green group, Sustainable South Bronx, said it could provide trained workers to cultivate the crops.

Such uses, Fields said, would live up to the ideal planted in the urban farm’s title, Libertad.

“Freeing ourselves from junk food, from the disconnect that we have from the land,” she said. “Being able to be free to dream and innovate and find solutions.”

 GFJI gathering clips:

Jalal and Surya, members of WESPAC's Food Justice Committee, travelled to Milwaukee to participate in this food justice gathering:

Good Day All,
  Today awoke as if the tinder of the sky was sparked by a flint manifested by the birdsong's and tree buds of early Spring. As the clouds took their shape around the yawning body of the suns awakening, the warm airs carried the subtle hints of transition, of reawakening. The sap will flow this week, some birds will return, and the ground will thaw. Spring is here…

  For those of you planning to sow seeds this coming growing season…the Hudson Valley Seed Library is a Hudson Valley based, seed business that grows, collects and sells regionally produced heirloom vegetable and herb seeds. If you visit their website ( and place an order with them, at Check Out you will see a box labeled Green$eeds – in this box you can enter the code FB4W. Once you do this, Hudson Valley Seed Library will donate 25% of the sale to us at the Food Bank for Westchester. This is an opportunity to receive great heirloom seeds while supporting a wonderful regional business and a local non-profit addressing hunger in the county. So remember…Order-Check Out-ENTER FB4W-Receive and Plant Seeds-Eat Well-Save Seeds…
  Some other seed companies:
Seed Savers Exchange (
Fedco Seeds (
High Mowing Organic Seeds (
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (
Johnny's Selected Seeds (

I have attached a couple articles I wanted to share with you all:
– a "true seasons calendar" about celebrating our seasons with a greater knowledge
– a publication about the gradual loss of nutrients in our food supply over the past few decades, and what we can do about it
– an article about the Westchester Land Trust and the Farmer Match Program

  To keep warm, I'll be milling and the "reds" will be laying…
– available for you: whole wheat/oat flour, rolled wheat/oats, cracked wheat/oats – please contact me
– available for you: Ryder Farm organic eggs – please call Hall Gibson at 845-279-3984 or e-mail to [email protected]

  Myself along with InterGenerate ( will be starting a member-run cooperative focusing on working with, learning about and raising heritage breed chickens.
Based at the John Jay Homestead in Katonah, NY, this cooperative is designed to provide an opportunity for those wanting to work with chickens but don't have the space to at home, would like to receive fresh eggs weekly, and/or for those who are interested in supporting and learning about heritage and threatened breeds of animals. This cooperative will be open to anyone, yet there is limited room for this first year. Attached, please find a copy of our brochure, and if you are interested in joining please register.


  I would like to take this chance and space to ask any of you with the interest and ability to direct support to the Food Bank for Westchester and our efforts to bring food to individuals and families of Westchester County that experience hunger. There are approximately 200,000 individuals (homeless, children, single-parents, elderly, working poor) throughout Westchester that are at threat of hunger. We as the Food Bank, provide as much as we can and to as many as we can, and our efforts are great, but we do face many obstacles, including space and funding. We have a limited space within our warehouse (where we store the food and other items) and are currently looking for a larger area so we can hold more food and thus supply more people. Acquiring the funding that we need to function as a non-profit is also a necessity, and as for many non-profits, the majority of our financial funding is from private donations, and anything is greatly appreciated. If you would like to support the Food Bank please contact:
   – for financial donations – Katy Coppinger at [email protected].
   – for volunteering and food donations – Nancy Lyons at [email protected].
   – you can also call 914-923-1100 and ask for Katy or Nancy.
  The Food Bank has afforded me an opportunity to grow food for distribution to the folks we provide food to, and for this opportunity I am very grateful.
  If you can donate, or even if you cannot, I thank you.

Have a good one…



The Hudson Valley Seed Library strives to do two things:



  1. to create an accessible and affordable source of regionally-adapted seeds that is maintained by a community of caring farmers and gardeners; and,
  2. to create gift-quality seed packs featuring works designed by New York artists in order to celebrate the beauty of heirloom gardening.

Welcome to the Seed Library. We’re excited to be partnering with WESPAC.  We hope Green$eeds will help support the important work WESPAC is doing in our community.

Here’s the info you need to get started:

1.    WESPAC code is WESP for online sales.

2.    Start spreading the word. Green$eeds donates 25% of each online sale (seeds, memberships, gift, anything online) that WESPAC refers back to WESPAC. 

3.    Ways to spread the word: newsletter, emails, Facebook, twitter, posters, articles, blogs, advertising, word of mouth, printed materials you can hand out like bookmarks, cards, and fliers. Whatever you do to let folks know, make sure they know our website, your code, and that they need to enter your code when they check out. There will be a box that says Green$eeds where they enter their code.

4.    If you have the opportunity to take in-person orders for Art Packs, you can ask me for an order form. You collect orders and payments and mail the order forms and a money order to us by May 13th. We will donate 40% of all sales done this way back to you. If you would like sample Art Packs to show folks, we can sell you up to 32 packs (your choice) at 50% off. When you are done with the fundraiser the seeds are yours to keep- giveaway, raffle off, or plant them. It’s up to you!

Sow local, grow local!

Two New Resources for Community Garden Info in NYC

To download the report please go to:

For more information go to:

Last month, GrowNYC and GreenThumb (NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation) released a comprehensive report about community gardens in New York City today. The report comes from a survey issued in 2009 and the first half of 2010, sent to 500 community gardens, with a nearly 50% response rate.

The 2009/2010 NYC community garden report attempts to answer a number of questions, including:

  • How many community gardens are there in NYC today?
  • How many grow food, and which crops? What happens to the food?
  • How does one join a garden in my neighborhood?
  • What kinds of partnerships with schools and community groups do gardens have?
  • What types of events take place?

…and a lot more.

This article points to a looming problem as Genetically modified plants are contaminating the world's food supply and eventually will render the concept of "organic" null and void.  In addition to the now permanent contamination of the world's soy and corn crops (that includes organic soy and corn) the biotec criminals are now pushing to introduce varieties of wheat, alfalfa, flax that are genetically modified. If this is allowed to occur, then we have unleashed the ticking time bomb of runaway pieces of genetic information which cannot be recalled – no way, no how.   This would mean the slow but steady contamination of 1. Mustard family plants (starting with Canola of course but also including all of the Brassicas – kale, collards, broccoli, cauliflower etc.) 2. Soy as has already been mentioned 3. other Legumes as both soy and alfalfa are legumes 4. Grasses! as wheat is a grass 5. And Flax and its relatives.  For the uninitiated, genetic modification occurs when corporate criminals like Monsanto, "engineer" novel seed varieties by inserting DNA from one organism with the DNA of a plant species to obtain a plant that exhibits new, and allegedly beneficial properties.  Left to its own devices, this step of "engineering" would never and could never ever happen in nature as the only mechanism that allow for cross KINGDOM movement (From Kingdom Animalia to Kingdom Plantae) of genetic material are the human manipulation of "VECTORS".  Vector is benign corporatese for an agent that is used to carry and insert the DNA that the "engineers" seek to add to a plant's genetic material.  In and of themselves, these vectors are problematic as they have to excel at slipping through cellular defense and detection barriers and, so, the natural choices are plant viruses, bacteria and other agents of dubious safety profiles. 
A good example is the insertion of Flounder fish DNA into tomato plant DNA.  The piece of Flounder fish DNA that is inserted into the Tomato plant DNA, directs – (meaning it provides biological information to cause host cells to make) – the plant cells to produce antifreeze proteins which allegedly give the tomatoes added durability in colder weather.  Early research of genetically modified plants (GMOs for short) that were tested as food on lab animals has shown, among other things, that the GMO feed produced massive levels of inflammation and disease in the animals consuming these Frankenfoods.  Furthermore, this early research showed that these negative disease producing effects of the GMOs were not necessarily linked just to the novel proteins being created in these GMOs, but that it was the altered cellular nature of the GMO as a whole that was creating disease.
This year it was reported that the Japanese food industry took shipment of certified organic soy from the USA in order to manufacture several lines of organic soy foods.  Just to make sure, the Japanese had the shipment tested and found significant levels of GMO contamination in the shipment.  The response of US agricultural representatives was very instructive as they indicated that it was now no longer realistic – and therefore NAIVE- for anyone to expect to be able to obtain a clean, thoroughly organic crop of soy from the US that was free of GMO contamination!  Also, we know now that the ancient varieties of maize which are grown as part of the UN's world heritage food crop preservation efforts in Mexico now exhibit GMO contamination even though GMO corn is not legally allowed to be grown in Mexico.
In depth interviews with Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser ( ) are a great way to get up to speed on this issue as he has faced off against Monsanto in their attempt to bulldoze opposition to their perverse midwifery of GMO crops which clearly demonstrates the capacity for the corporate biotech world to exhibit the "Death Instinct "by championing business and agricultural strategies that will eventually undermine the best thing our species has carried forward through time – sustainable agriculture.  Please understand, GMO agriculture and Organic Agriculture CANNOT COEXIST – the track record that Schmeiser documents has clearly shown that GMO AGriculture will contaminate all plants through various forms of naturally occurring drift of genetic material via seeds and pollen carried by wind, animals or humans just to name several mechanisms of spread.


 Sunday January 16th
Emanuel Lutheran Church
197 Manville Rd. Pleasantville
$20 Per Person Per Workshop

Bee Workshop #1: 4-6 PM



Join Doug DeCandia and assemble your hive as you learn more about the nuts and bolts of beekeeping to prepare for the coming Spring.  Get all your questions answered, discuss equipment you have purchased and learn from our bee expert exactly what you need to do when in the next couple of months.  Refreshments will be provided and exciting experience is guaranteed for all as we get ready for Spring beekeeping

Sept. 6, 2010

Good Evening Everyone,

  After a few days of humble reflections, beautiful weather, and heart-warming sustenance, I think it is a bit safer to say that a change in season is about us, that the soft kisses of Autumns winds with soon be a part of our everyday, that the days will shorten, and our bodies will begin to take rest. I feel it more than ever this time of year, to reflect on the past days, months and years – to remember and pick out the little teachings that I have come across, and try and put them all together to build my tomorrow – for we are all what we have become through our experiences, and what better way to celebrate our lives, and our time here on this ship, than to remember, to reflect on, and to grow from these journey's.

  I am feeling closer to the earth more these days – in my actual and physical connection with the land, the plants, and animals – but also in my emotions and spirit, which tie me to this place and give me the insight to remain here, for it is here that my roots are. I feel very blessed to be here now, to be able to share my love with my roots (the land, my family, friends and community), and to have my roots feed me and build my strength.

  Our bodies are our vessels through this journey – and I believe there is no better way to feed and fuel our vessels than through cultivating good energy and eating fresh and healthy food, that which comes by and through the earth. Many of us have the opportunity of choice when it comes to what, when, where, and with whom we eat everyday – but there are also many that do not have that choice. It is towards the effort of increasing the availability of fresh and healthy food for all that I am focusing my work – and I very much have faith that this can and will work out.

  Until then, the land of Ryder Farm is continuing to produce good food for many of us. The chickens are laying almost 30 beautiful eggs a day. The fall greens are coming in (kales, mustards, spinach, collards, asian greens), as are the cabbages and broccoli. The eggplants are delicious (I made some great overnight pickles with the Little Finger's – I can pass along an easy and very tasty recipe for vegetable pickles, if any one wants), and the green beans have come back with a new life. So take a look at this weeks produce list and give a shout. Oh, and the Katonah Yoga Market is back to Wednesday starting last week.

  Thank you, all. Goodnight.

Introduction to Farm Livestock Workshop at Ryder Farm (This Saturday September 11 1:00 – 3:00 pm)

  I will be offering a workshop this coming Saturday, September 11 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm at Ryder Farm. The workshop will be a walk about and discussion on raising small livestock (laying hens, dairy goats, and honeybees) on the farm or at home, as well as a walk through the "garden" if time permits. The workshop is $10.00 per person ($0.00 for children). Please RSVP to me if you would like to attend.

I am Looking for Land and Funding to Start a Local Organic Farm
  I am in search for a new place to develop a farm – somewhere in the Westchester area, so that food can be grown and made available to this community. My dream is to cultivate a socially and ecologically sustainable "farm", on which food can be grown and provided to lower income families, and/or those who may not be able to afford locally and organically grown produce at retail prices. This will be supplemented with sales to local restaurants and the continuation of this "buyers club" – so that food can be provided to all those who want and need it.
  In order to do this, I need land and financial assistance to help with the costs of the farm. If any of you are interested in helping with this adventure, or might know anyone that could potentially be a "funder", please let me know. My thought is that if the costs of the farm can be covered we will be able to focus on producing high quality food, protecting the health of the land, and cultivating socially just practices within the community. I understand that not having to worry about making money might be fairy-tale-like, but I feel that if profit is not a necessity, more attention can be paid to the heart of the adventure. I know that this effort can be a significant contribution to our community, and I have faith that this can work. Thank you!

I am Looking for Work and Living Arrangements for this Winter
As I plan on not staying with Ryder Farm after this growing season, I am looking for work and/or a place to live this winter – somewhere that can accommodate myself (and if possible, the goats). If anyone needs a caretaker or house-sitter, or knows anyone that does, I would like to organize a work-trade or live-in situation, in which I can work for housing and board, or I can pay if that is preferred. Or, if anyone has a room or cottage that I can rent (or in exchange for work) I would like to do that as well. If this could work for anyone, let me know. Thank you!

Market Stand at Katonah Yoga Back To Wednesdays
  For the past few weeks I have had a market stand set up at the Katonah Yoga studio in Bedford Hills, once a week on Thursdays from 9:00 to 1:00. Starting in September (this Wednesday) I will be moving my market day back to Wednesdays (same time 9:00 to 1:00). I will bring everything that I have at the farm – so what you see on the "produce list" you can also pick up at the market, if you cannot make it to the farm.

Preserving the Summer Bounty
  Here are just a few deas to preserve the summer bounty of vegetables:
     Stewed Tomatoes – canning or freezing
     Tomato Sauce
– canning or freezing
     Salsa (with onions, peppers, zucchini, eggplant…) – canning
   Green Beans:
     Dilly beans – canning
     Blanched beans – freezing
     Dilly carrots – canning
     Blanched beans – freezing


digger's east Produce Featured at Local Venues
   Sweet Grass Grill
24 North Main Street
Tarrytown, NY 10591-7623

(914) 631-0000
   Waccabuc Country Club
90 Mead Street
Waccabuc, NY 10597

(914) 763-8694

   Mt. Kisco Day Care
95 Radio Circle
Mount Kisco, NY 10549

   The Flying Pig at Lexington
251 Lexington Avenue
Mt Kisco, NY 10549-2720

(914) 666-7445

   The Country Farmer
Across the Street from 121 Restaurant in North Salem, NY
   Table Local Market
11 Babbitt Road
Bedford Hills, NY 10507

(914) 241-0269

digger's east Produce Donations to
   Hope Community Services50 Washington Avenue New Rochelle, NY 10801-5503
                                         (914) 235-2607
   Mt. Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry
United Methodist Church 300 East Main Street, Mount Kisco, NY 10549
                                                 (914) 977-3295
   Neighbor's Link
27 Columbus Avenue Mt Kisco, NY 10549-2603
                         (914) 666-3410

Farm in Need of…
  Here is a list of "things" that the farm, and myself, could use – I thought this e-mail would be a good medium for getting this out to the public. Thank you to all who have given already.
Motorcycle/Motorbike/Vespa – I am looking for another vehicle, a motorcycle/motorbike/vespa, that I can use to make local deliveries. I would love to have a more fuel efficient vehicle that I can use to supplement the use of my pick-up truck. Does anyone have a motorbike that they are looking to sell, or know anyone that is?

    Baskets – wicker baskets for market and harvesting.

Articles on digger's east and Ryder Farm

  This article written by a good friend, Jessica Schneidman, who wrote it for the Bedford-Katonah Patch, an online journal. Visit them at Here is a link to the article about the farm –
I have attached a write-up from August 13, 2010 by local Record Review columnist Michael Millius. Take a look… and maybe think about supporting local newpapers and journals like the Record Reiew – they are a huge partner in bringing voice and recognition of small operations (among other things) to the greater public.

Eggplants and Garlic available through Ryder Farm Cottage Industries (my neighbors)
   My neighbors at Ryder Farm Cottage Industries have offered some eggplant and garlic – and it is available to you all too! So let me know if you would like any of these and I can get some from them for you.
   Eggplant – $3.50 / pound
   Garlic – $10.00/ pound

Local Architect Building Green
  Michael DeCandia, a locally-based and very talented and passionate architect (also my dad) has recently started his own firm, ECO Design Group LLC, along with a few other solid architects and builders. Their mission is a commitment "to designing and building healthy and comfortable spaces while minimizing the impact on the environment" in the Westchester area. If you are interested in renovating you home and building on a new site, or even if you are just interested in local movements, visit them at

Solidarity with Working Women in Africa to Assist a School in a Tanzanian Township

  Andrew Goldfarb, of wonderful Katonah, took a trip to Tanzania couple years ago, and while there grew a deep fondness for the people and the land. He met African women who make beautiful hand and tote bags from recycled cloth and recycled feed/grain sacs. Andrew came back from Tanzania with luggage filled with these bags that he had bought from the women for a price that would help to support them financially. Now with the help of conscious consumers here in New York, Andrew can sell these bags and the full profit margin will go towards assisting a school in a small Tanzanian township at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Support this action of solidarity by contacting myself ([email protected]) or Andrew ([email protected]) to order your own bag. The bags will also be available at the Katonah Yoga Market on Thursdays in August between 9:00 and 1:00 am (and Wednesdays starting in September). We thank you.

KatonahGreen Potlucks
  KatonahGreen – "A blog about sustainable living featuring interviews, reviews, videos, news and opinion on: local organic food and farming – natural health – green events – common sense energy – green shopping and films – making change and building community – all within 20 miles of Katonah, NY" (visit at
  KatonahGreen is also a medium for organizing potlucks and gatherings in the area – if you are interested in hosting a potluck, or being a part of one visit

  Thanks, All. I hope to hear from you soon.



digger's east farmstand at the Ryder Farm



Ryder Farm

404 Starr Ridge Rd

Brewster, NY   10509