Friday, August 15, 2008

Greenmarkets Diaspora

A teaching gambit popular in the geography graduate program I attended was to make students unload the contents of their backpacks and figure out from whence the items came. The intent of the exercise is to help people understand globalization. Produce traveling thousands of miles for consumption in Colorado is particularly remarkable. But once again, I find the exception to the rule more interesting:

The Cumberland Valley Produce Auction in Shippensburg, Pa., began in 1994 with roughly 500 Amish and Mennonite growers, whose customers were primarily local grocers and restaurants. Since then, it has doubled in size, thanks in large part to the demand from large, well-known companies. Buyers come to Shippensburg from New York, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., and other points.

Furthering developing this obscure connection between Pittsburgh and New York City, I present "Michael Hurwitz, the director of New York City’s Greenmarket program":

Before joining Greenmarket as director in February 2007, Mr. Hurwitz was the co-director of Added Value and Herban Solutions, a nonprofit youth and community development organization that he co-founded in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and that operates a 2.5-acre urban farm and two independent farmers’ markets as well as a local community-supported agriculture, or C.S.A., project. Mr. Hurwitz, who grew up in Pittsburgh, graduated from the University of Michigan in 1990 and received a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania in 1999. He graduated from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, where he was a Public Service Scholar, in 2007. He was a 2006 Union Square Award, given to grass-roots activists, and a 2004 Petra fellow.

Not only do Pittsburgh and New York share a similar source for trendy agricultural goods, they share talent that is redefining the landscape of small-scale farming. Might Mr. Hurwitz be interested in lending his expertise to similar projects in urban Pittsburgh? Not to undermine Amish and Mennonite growers, but clearly there is a market for quality produce that might be better served by more local urban farms.

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