June 28, 2013
Farm taking root in city
Vegetables sprouting from vacant South Avenue lot
Four workers were spreading compost and planting kale, Swiss chard and other vegetables Thursday morning at a vacant 1.5 acre lot on South Avenue.
Allan Gandelman, owner of Homer-based Main Street Farms, is beginning his expansion into Cortland and he spoke hopefully of the future as he oversaw his workers Thursday.
Liz Burrichter, Adrianne Traub, and “Bob Cat” (who would not give his full name), co-owner of the farm, were digging in the soil and planting a variety of vegetables at the beginning of what would be a long day of planting.
Gandelman said the farm is entering its third year at the Homer location on Route 281 and has run out of space, so when the owners of Coffee Mania offered to lease the vacant lot neighboring their South Avenue headquarters, he jumped at the idea.
Gandelman is excited about expanding the farm to Cortland, where he will open a farm stand on Fridays in August and eventually offer cooking demonstrations at an outdoor kitchen.
He said the farm will be offering Community Supported Agriculture shares to low-income people through Cortland County Community Action Program, accepting welfare benefit cards.The emphasis is on education, he said.
Participants will be taught what to do with the foods they buy, and good health and buying local will be promoted.
“Bob Cat” said the farm will offer tours to local schools and CAPCO and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cortland County and other agencies can use the farm to teach cooking and nutrition or composting classes.
The neighborhood has been supportive of the endeavor, said Gandelman and Traub.
“People seem really excited about it,” Traub said. “For the most part they say they can’t wait to see it.”
“Bob Cat” said the garden will be a “positive change for the community,” where there are houses in disrepair and many low-income residents.
Gandelman is hopeful that it will be well received.
A fence, already partially built, will enclose the whole lot and Gandelman is awaiting a storage shed for equipment and a walk-in cooler.
He is hoping to raise $10,000 in a month to cover the costs associated with the garden, such as equipment and fertilizer and an electrician and plumber to install the irrigation system.
The farm is raising funds through a “kickstarter” campaign that he urged people to email him about for more information at email@example.com.
The farm will run on a drip irrigation system and Burrichter said she will be tending to the garden regularly, doing the necessary weeding and checking on the growth. Gandelman said the soil on the site was tested for contaminants and is safe for planting.
A farm stand on site will sell the goods starting in August on Fridays from 4 to 6 p.m.
Gandelman said the plants have been grown in the greenhouse so the farm has all the necessary vegetation for the location and he hopes the initiative will take off. He will be selling things like peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, spinach and other items.
“We’ve been looking to expand and this kind of just fell in our laps,” said Gandelman, stressing the owners of Coffee Mania have been very helpful and supportive.
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