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Flushing group preps for another season of fresh produce

Organic farmer Matthew Kurek tells the Flushing Community Supported Agriculture group exactly where and how their vegetables are gathered out on Long Island. Photo by Phil Corso
TimesLedger Newspapers

When it comes to buying fresh produce, there is more to it than just saving green, Flushing’s John Choe said.

Choe, director of the One Flushing Community Economic Development Center, joined with more than a dozen of his neighbors Saturday to meet with the local farmers who will be supplying the 2013 season’s Community Supported Agriculture initiative.

The CSA was started last year when a group of volunteers teamed up with Long Island organic farm Golden Earthworm with hopes of increasing the community’s access to fresh, locally grown, organic food.

“We want to change the way we produce and consume food in this county,” Choe said. “The federal government does not do enough to regulate the distribution of food and the Flushing CSA is part of a grassroots movement in this country to connect with local farmers who have a real stake in the community.”

Farmers Matthew Kurek and Stephen Searl, from Golden Earthworm, of Jamesport, N.Y., traveled to the Flushing Quaker Meeting House, at 137-16 Northern Blvd., with samples of their fresh produce and a presentation on what members could expect to get their hands on this year. The farm said it supplied fresh items of all types, including strawberries, zucchini, onions, red potatoes and more.

“It has been great to get out and meet everyone else to make this more of a community endeavor,” Kurek said.

Kurek and Searl will deliver 26 weeks’ worth of vegetables during the coming summer and fall harvest from May to November, the farmers said, with hopes of building off last year’s success. According to Kurek, allowing the local farmers to personally deliver their produce cuts out the middle man and provides intangible environmental benefits.

Member Emily Griffin Sheahan said she chose to sign on to the group’s core message because of a heightened awareness and interest in the food she ate as well as the burden certain foods put on her wallet.

“The more I learn about factory farming and genetically modified organisms in our national food supply, the more firmly rooted my stance on local, organic produce,” Sheahan said. “As a member of Flushing CSA, I get the opportunity to meet the farmers who grow my food and visit the farm my food comes from. This instills a sense of trust and confidence in my food, which I don’t get from mass-produced, overly processed food from a grocery store.”

Flushing resident Ralph Reinertsen was part of the CSA’s inaugural partnership with the organic farm and said he was surprised to see how cost-effective and natural the experience was.

“I found the food quite delicious and diverse,” Reinertsen said. “Moreover, by the end of August, I believed that I had already gotten my money’s worth and I still had three months more to go.”

The Flushing CSA is open to any and all residents willing to participate in the program, Choe said, with pick-ups for their shares scheduled on Thursdays between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. at Flushing Town Hall. According to the CSA, shares cost $560 a year, which comes out to about $21.62 a week, and could feed a family of three adults, or two adults and two children.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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