First City Hall CSA Will Connect City Council Members and Staffers to Organic, Locally Grown Produce

New York, April 20, 2011 – As part of Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn’s FoodWorks initiative for improving New York City’s food system, the City Council today selected a New York-based farmer to supply organic fruits and vegetables to Council Members and staff participating in the Council’s new Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

For 22 weeks, Norwich Meadows Farm of Norwich, N.Y., owned by Zaid and Haifa Kurdieh, will deliver pre-purchased shares of fruits and vegetables to 250 Broadway, where the City Council legislative offices are located. At least 75 Council staff members have indicated interest in joining the program, including Speaker Quinn and Council Members Gale Brewer, Brad Lander, Julissa Ferreras and Debi Rose. The program begins June 1st and is expected to continue through November. Other governmental agencies, including the New York City Housing Authority, the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly, which are all located 250 Broadway, as well as the Mayor’s Office, have been invited to participate.

“The City Council is very proud to launch the first government-based CSA program in New York City,” said Speaker Quinn. “This is a convenient way to directly connect to upstate farmers and take home organic, locally grown fruits and vegetables. We look forward to seeing Zaid every week this summer with his fresh produce from Norwich Meadows and we hope the Council’s CSA encourages other employers to bring in their own CSA programs.”

“Community Supported Agriculture programs harken back to a time when people had direct relationships with their farmers,” said Zaid Kurdieh. “The real beauty of the farmer-consumer relationship is that the consumer experiences the farmer’s trials and tribulations as well as their bounty. You can’t find this relationship in the typical grocery store experience. I am excited to provide Speaker Quinn and the City Council a direct, local connection to the produce they eat!”

Norwich Meadows Farm is a 50-acre certified organic farm located four hours northwest of the City. Mr. Kurdieh produces food that is free of harsh chemicals and is grown using natural fertilizers. After earning a master’s degree in business administration at the University of South Dakota, Mr. Kurdieh spent several years there, working to help large-scale farmers develop business plans and meet credit needs. He then assumed a similar role at Cornell University’s cooperative extension program. In 1998, during his time at Cornell, he and wife started Norwich Meadows Farm.

A typical weekly vegetable share in July can include: cherry tomatoes, lettuce, collard greens, arugula, peppers, squash, fava beans, beets, cucumbers, eggplant, and garlic, but the contents varies throughout the growing season. A typical weekly fruit share in July can include: peaches, plums, strawberries, and cherries. The items in the share will change weekly, depending on what is available at the farm. Fruit will come from Red Jacket Farms and other local orchards.