Apr 3, 2011

Annie Novak
had a farm
Ee i ee i oh!

And on that farm
she had some vegetables
Ee i ee i oh!
With a carrot here,
And a tomato there...

Raise the Roof:
Annie Novak

NYBG Winter Lecture Series
March  2011

Annie Novak gives off good vibes.  She is founder of Eagle Street Farm and Growing Chefs.  As of March 2011, she is the Assistant Manager of the Family Garden at the New York Botanical Garden and consultant to Lake Tanganyika Floating Health Clinic.

Eagle Street Farm facts:
6,000 sq. ft.
200,000 lbs. of soil
$10 sq. ft. to install
soil composition: 
60% organic material,
40% clay and shale
4-6 inch soil depth

We are used to people talking about transparency in relation to politics, but not in terms of farming.  Annie Novak practices transparency:  "Everything we do...  we talk about it... we blog about it."  Whether its using local human hair as a mulch or inter-cropping or making compost tea or using rabbit manure.  Failure or success, Annie puts it all out there.  Even her farmers market is bottoms up marketing.  Her vegetables are not packaged, she wants people to see the color of chard and radishes.   "What we sell is as close to being in a raw state as possible." 

Using what you have is something we all aspire to.  Novak shows us the way.  Her kale was attacked by aphids.  It could not be sold.  They washed it, roasted it, resulting in Kale Chips, packaged (the exception) in brown bags with the recipe on the package, so you can make too! 
all of the above photos courtesy of Annie Novak

In addition,  Annie Novak, runs a CSA with whole and half shares, an apprenticeship program, free classes at the farm, and in 2005 began Growing Chefs.  Her intention:  to make kids into ecological eaters. 

She recently returned from Lake Tanganyika looking into the possibility of partnering with The Floating Health Clinic, an organization bringing health to isolated communities on Lake Tanganyika.  Her idea: to add a vegetable garden of the roof of the barge.

Annie Novak read a passage from Wendell Berry:  The Pleasures of Eating
"The industrial eater is, in fact, one who does not know that eating is an agricultural act, who no longer knows or imagines the connections between eating and the land, and who is therefore necessarily passive and uncritical - in short, a victim.  When food, in the minds of eaters, is no longer associated with farming and with the land, then the eaters are suffering a kind of cultural amnesia that is misleading and dangerous..."