In New York, Locally Grown Food is Colliding With a Booming Real Estate Market

Paul Post reported in today’s New York Times that, “Apple trees have blossomed, and soon fruit will begin emerging at Elizabeth Ryan’s orchard in the Hudson Valley. Before long, her harvest will head south to Manhattan, where Miro Uskokovic, the pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern, will use it to create an apple and carob cake, while Michael Anthony, the executive chef at the Studio Cafe inside the Whitney Museum of American Art, will turn it into an apple compote spread over pie dough and covered with a streusel.

“Ms. Ryan’s apples are also on school-lunch menus and sold at farmers markets all over the city. Her farm, Stone Ridge Orchard in Ulster County, is part of a rapidly expanding pipeline that carries fruits and vegetables from farms across New York State to consumers clamoring for fresh ingredients grown in soil not far away.

But the demand for locally grown foods is colliding with another powerful force: a booming real estate market, particularly in the Hudson Valley, driven by waves of newcomers from New York City, perhaps drawn by the region’s natural beauty, more relaxed pace and less expensive housing. The boom is gobbling up family farms as owners choose to cash in on the surging value of land rather than grapple with the perennial challenges of slim profit margins, high taxes, long hours and fickle weather.”

The article noted that, “Now a group of New York City lawmakers has teamed up with another preservation group, the Scenic Hudson Land Trust, to create a plan to preserve the region’s existing food system. As part of the initiative, lawmakers are seeking for the first time to set aside money in the municipal budget for the preservation of farmland in the Hudson Valley.”

With respect to local produce, today’s article explained that, “The economic impact of fresh food is also growing in the city. The number of farmers markets in New York City has nearly doubled, to 146 in 2015 from 79 in 2006, according to city officials. In the 2014-15 school year, the city spent over $27 million on locally produced food, a nearly $2 million increase from the previous year.”

Mr. Post added that, “Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has emphasized the need for improved access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables, especially in low-income schools and neighborhoods, is reviewing [Councilman Daniel R. Garodnick’s (Democrat of Manhattan)] proposal, a spokeswoman said, and recognizes the importance of preserving farmland. The city’s budget has to be finalized by June 30.

“A group of State Assembly members wrote a joint letter to Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, urging him to support the conservation plan.

“‘Most of us are the ones in our households who end up making key food decisions,’ said Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, a Democrat, who wrote the letter and who represents Dutchess and Columbia Counties. ‘People I represent are the people who drive to the city each week for farmers markets. And people in the city want to know where their food is coming from and who their farmers are.'”

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