SPACE on Ryder Farm’s Harvest Club seeks to make fresh vegetables accessible for all.
When Julie Noble has a hankering for a summer snack, she loves to slice up a hakurei turnip or kohlrabi and drizzle it with lime juice and salt. Adam Mahon loves a sugar snap pea. In the warm summer months, he can often be found with handfuls of them in his pockets. Noble and Mahon run the farm operations at SPACE on Ryder Farm and their infectious enthusiasm for fresh produce can make even the most packaged goods-reliant person salivate for something born from the earth.
“My hope is to create food that is so delicious that it doesn’t need something complicated to make it good or presentable,” said Mahon. “We hope to make our Harvest Club very approachable and convenient.”
The Harvest Club at SPACE is a program in which community members purchase season-long subscriptions of produce, art and/or flowers. Harvest Club members pay up front for the full 18-week season, with membership options offered on a sliding scale to account for different income levels. Low-income families can sign up for $19 per week, while Friend of the Harvest memberships, priced at $98 per week, covers a weekly subscription for high-income families as well as a subscription for a local family in need.
“Last year we reached 65 underserved families, which was half of our full sign-up,” said Kate Eminger, SPACE’s Creative Director. “This year we’re hoping to reach 81 families.”
SPACE’s commitment to making its produce accessible for underserved populations is a central tenet of its program. The SPACE team is passionate about doing their part to directly address food insecurity in our area. According to data from FeedingAmerica.org, over 75 thousand people in Westchester are food insecure.
Nobel and Mahon began seeding their crops back in February, when they planted things like onions, shallots, scallions and leeks. And, for the first time ever at SPACE, they planted corn. The team will have five different varieties of corn this year, including sweet corn, broom corn, dent corn and blue corn. Noble and Mahon say that they grow what they think their customer base will want, and they encourage open communication from Harvest Club members so that the farm can continuously improve its offerings.
Tomatoes, in particular, are expected to be a huge hit for members this year. “We expect an abundant crop of really delicious local tomatoes,” said Mahon.
Weekly items in the Harvest Club will change with the seasons. Early on, members can expect a variety of greens, including different lettuces, sugar snap peas, broccoli rabe, spinach and broccoli. As the sun starts to warm everything up around the end of June, members will take home summer squash, cucumbers, basil, watermelon and cantaloupe. Late summer, farm crates grow heavy with eggplant, peppers, beets, corn, tomatoes, shallots and more. The squashes will come out in fall, including spaghetti, acorn and butternut squashes. Traditional fall vegetables like parsnips, rutabagas, radishes and cabbages will round out the weekly haul at the end of the 18-week season.
“With fall time, there’s a special quality to the crops. The cooler nighttime temperatures shock the vegetables in the fields and sweeten them up,” said Mahon. “Things you might have had before have a renewed flavor and depth of texture.”
Noble emphasized that becoming a Harvest Club member helps to keep dollars in our local community. “It’s important to eat in the place where you live, and to support that as much as possible. It also introduces you to things that you may not pick up at the store. You might find your new favorite vegetable, which can be a life-changing event.”
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