Recap: Food Distribution and Infrastructure in the South Bronx

On September 13th, CFF and Philanthropy New York hosted a day-long Food Distribution and Infrastructure Tour to learn about some of the current and future food distribution systems utilized in NYC, as well as other infrastructure projects and small-scale supply chain models. Thirty-five funders attended the bus tour that included five stops and seven organizations working in the Hunts Point and Bronx River sections of the South Bronx.

GrowNYC / Greenmarket Co.

The day began at the 5,000sf warehouse of Greenmarket Co, the wholesale distribution arm of GrowNYC. We heard from Director of Wholesale Olivia Blanchflower and other staff about current operations, and learned that Greenmarket works with over 60 wholesale growers (88% are in New York) and over 400 buyers ranging from high end restaurants to bodegas. Since they moved operations to this Hunts Point location in 2015, they have grossed over $6M in sales of local farm products and distributed of 4M pounds of produce in low-income communities.

From there we boarded the bus and drove to to the future site of the NYS regional food hub which will be the new home and warehouse for Greenmarket Co. The facility will have 75,000sf of warehouse space, 20,000 of which will be used by Greenmarket Co. to greatly expand their capacity, and the rest rented out to other mission driven food and farm businesses. They expect to break ground in late fall 2018 with an anticipated opening in early 2019.

View the handout on Greenmarket Co. and the NYS Regional Food Hub

Food Distribution Center

We continued around the loop of Food Center Drive to view the markets and businesses that make up the Food Distribution Center (FDC), a 329-acre parcel of land owned by NYC where the NYC Economic Development Corporation administers leases to over 110 businesses representing 8,000 jobs, including the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market, the Cooperative Meat Market, and the New Fulton Fish Market. Collectively the markets generate more than $3 billion in sales annually and all together the FDC is the largest food market in the western hemisphere.

We got off the bus at Hunts Point Landing, a new public park in the middle of the FDC that is part of the larger South Bronx Greenway plan, to continue the conversation. Angela Tovar, Director of Community Development at The Point CDC, told us about the Hunts Point Resiliency project, an award-winning partnership that came out of HUD’s Rebuild By Design competition currently with $45M of funding.

 

Read the informative Five Borough Food Flow report about NYC food distribution
Read the data-dense 2016 Food Metrics Report put out by the NYC Office of Food Policy

The Point CDC

Our next stop was The Point CDC, where Executive Director Danny Peralta led us on a tour of the facility (and green roof!) and provided an overview of their arts and activism programming with a focus on youth development and food justice. During lunch prepared by Bascom Catering, we heard about additional projects we were not going to have time to visit:

  • Maria Torres, President and COO of The Point, gave a summary of The Peninsula, a collaborative project to redevelop the old Spofford juvenile detention center in Hunts Point into a 5-acre mixed-use space with affordable housing, community-based and industrial space, and ground floor retail. Rosa Agosto, Chief Talent and Learning Officer at Urban Health Plan, then spoke about her organization’s role in the development, which is to create a public market focused on healthy food retail and other wellness services.
  • Heidi Hynes, Executive Director of the Mary Mitchell Family & Youth Center, spoke about the various services her organization offers, and then focused on the award-winning La Canasta program, a food buying club for the Bronx sourced from the Hunts Point produce market.
  • Dennis Derryck, Founder and President of Corbin Hill Food Project, talked about CHFP’s history and role in the food system as a nonprofit food distributor supplying food where it is needed most.

View The Point’s one-pager, and their culinary and resiliency programs
View a flier about Urban Health Plan’s services and the La Canasta program of MMFYC
View the the slides presented by Corbin Hill Food Project and their one-pager

Bronx Foodway

From The Point we took a short bus ride to the intersection of Bruckner Boulevard and Bronx River Ave. The destination was a vacant 22,500sf strip of land beneath the elevated Bruckner Expressway. Once there, David Shuffler, Executive Director of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice (YMPJ), asked us to envision the future Soundview Marketplace, a bustling community space serving as a hub for healthy food production and distribution, providing incubator space for food manufacturing businesses and a critical access point for fresh produce and prepared foods. YMPJ has an agreement with the State Department of Transportation who owns the land to develop this project as part of the larger Bronx River Greenway and Bronx Foodway vision.

We then walked back across the Bronx River to our final destination, Concrete Plant Park. The park is currently home to Swale, a floating food forest built atop a working barge that we boarded upon arrival. We heard from the Swale team as well as YMPJ staff about their collaborative efforts to bring this interactive edible art piece to the community and went on a short foraging tour of our own.

After disembarking, we were led through the genesis and future plans of Concrete Plant Park and the Bronx Foodway by representatives of NYC Parks, the Bronx River Alliance, and YMPJ. These three organizations, along with The Point and Partnership for Parks, comprise the core team of the Foodway, which had its first season of plantings this summer. The Foodway is a productive eco-cultural corridor landscaped with edible, medicinal, and other useful plants envisioned to impact community health as part of the #Not62 campaign. We went on a tour of the different Foodway features already built, and heard about community efforts to reclaim the waterfront land at the site of a former concrete factory, prevent it from becoming more highway infrastructure, and turn it into this beautiful park instead.

View YMPJ handouts on the Soundview Marketplace and Bronx Foodway
View the 2017 Swale fact sheet

THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO CAME OUT!

Enjoy a slideshow from the day below

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