While Tropical Storm Irene may not have hit NYC as hard as it some feared, the storm has caused some serious devastation in other parts of the state, particularly in much of the farmland that supplies Greenmarket shoppers with their heirloom tomatoes and ramps and whatnot. It's still too early to asses the full extent of the losses, but flooding, soil erosion and poor road conditions have all but destroyed some farms upstate, resulting in some heartbreaking stories from small family-owned farms. Governor Cuomo has requested federal assistance to help farmers recover from Irene damages totaling at least $45 million, but some NYC restaurants and food organizations are also banding together to help. Here's how:
- The nonprofit GrowNYC, which runs the city's Greenmarkets, has set up a hurricane relief donations page. 100 percent of all donations will directly support Greenmarket farmers impacted by the hurricane, and anyone donating $50 or more between now and September 30 will receive a free Greenmarket poster illustrated by artist Claudia Pearson.
- A group of food editors from Saveur and Edible Brooklyn, plus others, are recruiting restaurants for a special "Dine Out For Irene" night at NYC restaurants to benefit local farms. Ililli, China Grill, Asia de Cuba and more have already signed on and agreed to donate up to 10% of what they earn on September 25 to the relief effort. All funds will go to GrowNYC and fellow local food advocacy nonprofit Just Food, who will distribute the money amongst farmers in need. A full list of participants is still being organized, so if you or anyone you know in the restaurant industry is interested, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org ASAP.
- Ray Bradley of Bradley Farm in Ulster County, who suffered "terrible losses" in Irene due to flooding, is hosting a T-shirt design contest as a fundraiser. Organizers plan to sell the winning design to help Bradley, who sells to many NYC restaurants, recoup some losses. For details on how to submit an entry, email email@example.com.
- And, of course, one of the simplest ways to help is to shop from the city's 50+ Greenmarkets, which puts money directly in the pocket of the farmers. While some farmers can't get to the city for markets at all, the ones who can need your support more now than ever. It's a long weekend—try cooking something new.