This Week at Seed Street

This week at Seed Street, we started with balmy temperatures that had us transplanting seedlings outside with Farmer Randy. By the end of the week, we were facing the prospect of one of the coldest weekends of the winter season yet. On Saturday morning, we clocked temperatures of 14 degrees outside the container, but inside the farm it stayed at a balmy 68 degrees. 

The remainder of our winter harvest includes some hardy swiss chard along with romaine lettuce; we are teeing up for our spring harvest with seedlings for some basil, cilantro, thyme and spinach. 

Stay tuned for more from our farm!

-Team Seed Street

Farmstand Update – Winter Harvest at Seed Street

As the winter months prepare to thaw into spring, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on the amazing growing that has been happening at Seed Street throughout this winter season.

We have an all-star roster of curious and enthusiastic young farmers working with Farmer Randy. Even when the temperatures outside were plunging, our farm stayed warm and leafy green. We'd like to share with you few updates, in photos, from our winter Grow programming. (See below).

We are so excited to be continuing the growing this season, and while we ride out the last of winter we already have our sights firm planted on the exciting spring harvests that lie ahead! Keep following along with us!

Big things grow from small seeds planted.

-- Team Seed Street
 

Inquiring Minds - Q&A with Yoga Mentor Karen Gastiaburo

This week, we caught up with the amazing Karen Gastiaburo - Harlem resident, yogi, teacher, and a lead yoga mentor to our students under our Grow-Move-Create curriculum programming. Read on to meet Karen and learn more about her experience.

On this path effort never goes to waste, and there is no failure. Even a little effort towards spiritual awareness will protect you from the greatest fear.
— The Bhagavad Gita

Seed Street: What was the first thing that stood out to you when you began teaching our young yogis?

Karen: What stood out to me was that the kids just wanted to be HEARD. Teaching them to reflect, to go inside and listen, to have respect for themselves and for one another when speaking. I had to remember that they are children, but children are wise beyond their years and respect was a central part of our dialogue throughout.

Seed Street: Beyond yoga as a form of movement, meditation and inner-awareness were central tenants you introduced into practice from day 1.

Karen: I have experienced a lot of growth in my personal life through the process of self-inquiry.

Meditation is about contemplation, clearing the mind of chatter in order to create the space and time for learning and making clear decisions.

Our girls would come to class with various stress inducers like School, tests, friends, home life – It was so important for them to take that quiet meditative time to breathe and let the stress go out with the breath and breathe in new air, new light and a renewed sense of self-confidence - simply let go!  The response to being handed these tools was immediate.

Seed Street: Tell us more about your own history as a yogi and background with teaching yoga.

Karen: I started practicing yoga somewhere around the year 2000, but a trip to India in 2002 is what really catapulted me into a deeper practice.

Then, about 8 years ago things really shifted for me. I found a teacher / mentor in [NYC-based yogi] Jackie Prete. She shared ideas and practices that resonated with me. And I continued my journey into teaching yoga.

I primarily study and teach Anusara Yoga and teach classes at the World Yoga Center on the UWS (72nd Street) on a regular basis, along with volunteering to teach their community classes. I continue to enjoy teaching all walks of life and welcome the opportunity to experience and grow in new ways. Self-inquiry is key to that process and that process manifests into asana practice.

But, something was missing ...I always imagined working with kids in some capacity. I am at that point in my life where I feel really blessed and grateful and it was now time to give back.  All the things I’ve learned so far I hope to impart on the children of our future.  Seed Street was such a sweet introduction....to do something I love and share this with the students.

Seed Street: How long have you been a resident of Harlem?

Karen: 7 years, which by some NY standards is a long time.....I've made friends with neighbors, I'm engaged in the community and I participate...., and by Harlem standards makes me a newcomer!...Harlem is a neighborhood steeped in history with families that have lived here for generations and I have a lot of respect for that.  I feel fortunate to be welcomed here and to be able to share my talents and passions with kids that are growing up here.  

Seed Street: What is the most important thing you hope to impart to these young yogis through the process of introducing them to yoga?

Karen: I am a person who is always looking to grow and learn, to stay very curious. For me, teaching yoga is about the self-inquiry, what makes somebody tick, understanding them, their personal obstacles and how to help them grow and to overcome those obstacles.

We are all creatures of habit, sometimes to a fault. And, we learn from the people around us. But then, we have the power to make new choices, new decisions "is this working for me, or is it not?" those choices, those decisions can change the course of your life. 

Do we repeat a pattern or do we change a pattern? We alone have control over that. If I can impart that message to these young minds, that you are in control, that things can be different and you can shape that narrative, that is a powerful thing, that is the message I hope to leave them with. "Take care of yourself". 

I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from The Bhagavad Gita - 

"On this path effort never goes to waste, and there is no failure. Even a little effort towards spiritual awareness will protect you from the greatest fear."  

Seasonal Reflection: Summer Farmstand Spotlight

As we head into Labor Day Weekend and what serves as the de facto last week of summer for so many of us, temps and humidity continue to rise here in NYC. The upside - the late summer produce from local farmers right now is some of the finest of the year! Below, a spotlight on three of the summer classics that are at their best right now.

Even as we move to spending more time outside in the company of family and friend this weekend, we can stay out of the hot kitchen and still manage to eat fresh, local and seasonal. Take a stroll to your nearest farmers market and talk to your purveyor / farmer about what they are harvesting right now.

Happy eating!


Watermelon

Sliced, diced and served solo as the star sweet and refreshing treat, it doesn't take much to make a fresh watermelon to perfect accompaniment to a late-summer day. Watermelon pairs wonderfully with mint in its sweet form, but the addition of other green herbs like basil, cilantro or parsley transform the watermelon into a perfect salty-savory conduit. Just slice the watermelon into simple cubes, drizzle lightly with olive oil and sea salt, and heap on a generous portion of the favorite green herb of your choosing. For an added punch, tuck in some crumbles of feta or goat cheese throughout.

Corn

This one hardly needs more elaboration. The delicious staple of a lightly-grilled corn on the cob is emblematic of summer-fun for a reason. We love elevating it ever so slightly by taking the corn cob right from the grill, brushing it with fresh lime juice, and then sprinkling on a little salt and cayenne pepper.
Simpler yet, skip the grilling / cooking altogether and enjoy your August corn exactly as it is! Just take your cob raw, slice the kernels from the cob, and toss into salads, omelettes or enjoy it solo. The key is to start with a cob that is sweet and tender. To maximize sweetness and tenderness, start by nabbing corn that is freshly harvested - and the best way to do that is to find locally-farmed corn that hasn't had to travel far from the field to your table. The corn of farms on New Jersey and Long Island are particularly stunning now.

Tomatoes

The local tomatoes that appear at farmers markets in late summer are hardly recognizable from their mass-greenhouse farmed brethren than make it to us in the winter months. The tomatoes available now will have a flavor, texture and all around oooomph factor that can't be missed. When picking your tomatoes, remember: don't judge a book by its cover! Some of the juiciest, sweetest and most flavorful tomatoes won't be round or pretty, and they may not even be red! Experiment with different tomatoes sizes and varieties to discover which flavor profiles you like best.

To preserve the tomatoes at their best, don't store them in the refrigerator! Rather, keep them out at room temperature until you are ready to use them, and consider storing the larger tomatoes with the stem side down (which is thought to slow the aging process and keep them fresh longer). 

 

Cultivating Young Palates

This month's op-ed by psychologist Katherine Kinzler in The New York Times "Sunday Review" presents research on the link between babies' environments and the evolution of their food preferences. At Seed Street, we applaud this evidence that surrounding young palates early and often with positive role models of eating habits and food-based connections is paramount towards creating the next generation of mindful, healthy eaters.

Please read on for the full post.

Reimagine Justice

This week, in light of the tragic shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile so closely followed by the heart-breaking assassination of five Dallas police officers, we at Seed Street are taking a moment to step back and reflect on the deep divisions, structurally inequalities and fundamental lack of shared understanding that plague so many aspects of our world today and ultimately enable so much senseless violence and loss. We recognize that our country is in the midst of a powerful dialogue through movements like #blacklivesmatter and led by countless grassroots social leaders, albeit a dialogue fueled by the momentum of tragedy and a movement whose greatest tangible goals are still the stuff of dreams. We would be remiss if we did not share our love and full-hearted support for these change-makers and this movement, as well as do our part to further the conversation.

The number of incarcerated people in the Unites States has grown...5 times faster than the growth rate of the U.S. population at large.

We recently had the special opportunity to hear from Mike de la Rocha - musician, author, social justice activist and founder of creative arts and policy fund Revolve Impact – on his mission to radically reimagine the criminal justice system in our country from beginning to end. The statistics that represent the contradictory paradigm of our prison system today are staggering. Since 1972, the number of incarcerated people in the Unites States has grown from only 300,000 to over 2.3 million. That is 5 times faster than the growth rate of the U.S. population at large. And this growth in our prison system has been disproportionately fueled by the incarceration of poor black and minority Americans. In fact, within African American communities, one out of three men between the ages of 18 and 30 will serve time. Beyond this, our prison system has become the defacto largest mental health treatment institution in America, and a staggering number of inmates are actually men and women whose mental health and addiction issues have been left untreated.

As anyone who has spent time studying or following this issue knows, the statistics are manifold and the issue itself is complex beyond measure. Mike de la Rocha promotes the radically simple yet potent concept of “restorative justice”, wherein we focus on putting health and healing at the forefront of our criminal justice system rather than on simply “locking people up in cages and sending people back into our communities destroyed.” Mike was as the forefront of the movement which led California voter to ratify Proposition 47 in 2014, thereby reclassifying several non-violent offenses from felony convictions and into misdemeanors and opening up hope for access to jobs, education grants and public housing for the thousands of non-violent offenders in our prisons who are barred from such access under a felony conviction.

The opposite of poverty is not wealth. The opposite of poverty is JUSTICE. The moral arch of the universe is long but it bends toward justice. We cannot be full, evolved human beings until we care about human rights and basic dignity. That all of our survival is tied to the survivial of everyone. That all of the visions of technology and design and entertainment and creativity have to be married with the visions of humanity, compassion, and justice.
— Bryan Stevenson

Mike and his work have been deeply shaped by another social justice pioneer, the lawyer, author and advocate Bryan Stevenson. We want to share with you this powerful TED talk delivered by Bryan, along with an excerpt from his book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.

Summer of Seed Street: Recipes from our Garden

The swelter of the NYC summer is officially upon us! After a long weekend celebrating independence day and the festivities that kick off the month of July all around NYC, we thought it the perfect occasion to share the leafy-greens-based recipes crafted by our young gardeners and inspired by their time nurturing, growing and tasting produce from their hydroponic garden.

Please enjoy this survey in words and images.

Stay tuned - We will be back with more updates from our Seed Street farm soon.

"Food will shape who you are" - Reflections on Palatable Brunch Panel

Everything from the art on the walls to the picture painted on the plate by the chef/artist are all important elements in creating a unique experience for guests...Food will shape who you are.
— Chef JJ Johnson

A few weeks ago, our Seed Street co-founder Hannah Bronfman participated in the dynamic Palatable Brunch Tour Panel about the intersection of art, food, culture and Harlem, presented by the FLUX Art Fair in partnership with the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Hannah was joined by Executive Chef Joseph “JJ” Johnson (The Cecil), Harlem-based entrepreneur Anahi Angelone, and dynamic visual artist Miguel Luciano. Hallie Ringle, assistant curator at the Studio Museum, moderated the panel.

From left to right: Moderator Hallie Ringle and panelists Hannah Bronfman, Anahi Angelone, Miguel Luciano and JJ Johnson. 

From left to right: Moderator Hallie Ringle and panelists Hannah Bronfman, Anahi Angelone, Miguel Luciano and JJ Johnson. 

The amazing Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem.

The amazing Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem.

Our panelists shared in the sentiment that food in the 21st century is deeply rooted as both an art and an experience; although its manifestation in our lives today can feel very contemporary, our food tastes and preferences in fact draw directly from our shared family and cultural histories. As Hannah summarized after the panel, “by aligning with this influential group of food enthusiasts who are all interested in unique ways of bringing food back to its roots, we can influence a young urban community and be leaders in helping our youth to make life-long healthy connections to food.”

JJ discussed his creative process, including moving to Ghana for one month to cook and research the food of the African diaspora, and shared how West Africa has especially influenced the food of the world. Hannah talked about her upbringing as a vegetarian, her life-long journey to expand her palette through her world travels, and how Seed Street is “working to reinforce a bond with food and an understanding of where food comes from by making farming cool again." Anahi discussed the process by which she plans and preserves the murals adjacent to her restaurants, and how a thoughtful selection can lead them to become hallmarks of cultural connection within a community.

We eat with our eyes first, and the way we approach art is similar. I’m interested in food history and the way food speaks about culture and migration.
— Artist Miguel Luciano

Thank you for all who joined us for this special event. Stay tuned for more news on upcoming Seed Street events.

This Week at Seed Street - May 22nd

Our spring season of programming is wrapping up for the summer break, but stay tuned for more on the many things we have sprouting at Seed Street this summer!    

This week at Seed Street was bitter sweet!  Our Grow, Move and Create programming wrapped up with capstone celebrations of all that our students learned and accomplished this spring season. We are sad to be saying goodbye to our friends and the extraordinary students at the Children’s Aid Society but are looking forward to the next season of growing this summer.

The week began with Move. Class was packed, as our 3rd 4th and 5th grade participants all came in for the final celebration. Each of our budding yogis received their own yoga mat to facilitate a continued, at-home and at-life yoga practice, also with a t-shirt reviewing the Chakras. Our amazing lead yoga teacher Karen led the whole group in a final shared practice, and the Seed Street students gave lots of help modeling key poses for class.

On Thursday, we hosted our Entrepreneurship Fair with our Create teams. The energy level was high in the final minutes leading up to the Entrepreneurship Fair, as each team was excited to put the final touches on their presentation boards and polish their business pitches!  Team spirit was also shining brightly, as each team enthusiastically showed off t-shirts embossed with their team’s original business logos.

Finally, everything came full circle in our Grow session on Friday. The sun was shining and everyone worked together to transplant tomato cuttings that had rooted hydroponically into potting soil. These tomato plants will eventually live on the roof of our container garden, soaking up maximum sunlight. We wrapped up with a special gift of recipe books to all of our students and participants, chronicling all of the learning and growing we did over the last few months and highlighting favorite leafy-greens recipes from our students that were inspired by our time in garden. It was moving to see our students reflect upon this growing season as they flipped through the pages of the book.