Thanks to connections made through the 2012 Green Drinks Earth Week Happy Hour, 25 families from throughout Buffalo will benefit from fresh, local produce this spring. Prior to the Happy Hour event, Modern Recycling announced that for each pound of perishable food items donated at the event, Modern would match that donation by donating an equal amount of tomatoes from their greenhouse to Massachusetts Avenue Project’s Mobile Market. Read on to learn more...
Imagine going into your local grocery store only to find out there were no tomatoes for your BLT tonight. Now imagine not having any vegetables in your grocery store. This is the reality for some Western New York neighborhoods that have more fast food restaurants and liquor stores than outlets for fresh fruit and vegetables.
This spring the Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP) and Modern Recycling are teaming up to tackle this problem locally. Modern Recycling announced recently it will donate 50 pounds of H2Gro vine tomatoes to MAP’s Mobile Market in June.
“Modern chose to donate tomatoes to the MAP Mobile Market for a variety of reasons,” Katy Duggan-Haas, Sustainability Program Development & Education at Modern Recycling said. “First, we wanted to bring added value to our involvement in GrowWNY.org's Earth Week Happy Hour. We thought of the idea of asking people to bring a non-perishable food item to the event, and then our donation of tomatoes based on that response, would bring some awareness of our tomatoes as well as contribute wholesome food to a community of need. Our company has long been committed to the community, so we saw this as a win, win, win.”
Tyler Manley, Mobile Market Coordinator at MAP says the Modern Recycling donation is expected to feed approximately 25 families or 100 people this spring. MAP's farm stand opens May 22, and will be open every Tuesday and Saturday until November. Their farm stand is located at the Growing Green Farm at 389 Massachusetts Ave. in Buffalo. MAP also has four other community sites where the tomatoes will be sold in a total of five different neighborhoods.
“What this donation means to us is having awesome produce for sale early in the season. Spring in Buffalo has a lot of greens and some root vegetables available, but it will be awesome to kick off our season-long farm stand with delicious tomatoes right off the bat,” Manley said.
MAP's Mobile Market is a local food distribution project in association with its Growing Green Program. The Mobile Market brings organic, locally-grown, affordable produce to low-income neighborhoods that have limited access to fresh food from May through November of each year. MAP partners with local farmers and community partners for the produce and travels to the sites weekly. As of 2010, the mobile market has sold approximately 3,000 pounds of local, organic foods to residents on the West and East side of Buffalo.
“We chose MAP specifically for the tomato donation because of the work they do with youth and the infrastructure they have, such as the Mobile Market, for getting our fresh, local tomatoes into communities that otherwise might not have access to such healthy food,” Duggan-Haas said. “As an entrepreneurial company, we value the skills that MAP teaches the youth involved in its programs and are pleased to be able to support those efforts.”
Modern, which also sells its tomatoes at wholesale and grocery markets, created H2Gro, 12.5 acres of hydroponic greenhouses in Lewiston in 2003. It grows tomatoes eight months per year and produces 6 million pounds of tomatoes per year.
“When the H2Gro Greenhouses got started, they experimented with growing other crops, but ultimately decided to grow only tomatoes,” Duggan-Haas said. “It's harder to harvest and transport tomatoes long distances and maintain the taste and texture we all love than it is for other crops. Lots of people love a fresh, juicy tomato and we're able to provide that locally for a much longer growing period than outdoor farmers, so our region doesn't have to import as many tomatoes. That demand for a tasty tomato into the fall and early spring months has helped us be successful in serving local markets.”H2Gro's glass greenhouses use a variety of environmentally-friendly and innovative techniques when growing its tomatoes. Examples include:
- The greenhouse is heated using the waste heat from internal combustion engines in the innovative energy plant. The heat recovery system surrounds 11 generators in the plant and collects the waste heat generated. The heat is transferred continuously from heat exchangers at the power plant to the heat exchangers at the greenhouse.
- Using renewable energy, the greenhouse also recycles its irrigation water. The water is processed with a special UV sterilizer for reuse.
- Avoiding the use of pesticides and herbicides, instead using special biological predators in an intergrated pest management system to keep pests under control.
- The greenhouse environments are computer controlled for temperature, the C02 in the air, plant nutrients, and the pH level in the irrigation water.
- All tomatoes are hand-picked, sorted and ripened on the vine without using artificial ripening methods.
MAP is holding a seedling sale on May 19 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and May 22 from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. If another day of selling is necessary, it will be on the following Saturday.
There will be many different varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and lots more for sale. This is a chance to support your local urban farm and get some great starts for your gardens at home! CLICK HERE for more information.
To learn more about Modern Recycling visit http://www.modern-corp.com/.
To learn more about MAP’s Mobile Market visit http://www.mass-ave.org/MobileMarket.htm.