By the spring of 2013, our regional food system had been tested to its max with historic storms the previous two years. Hurricane Irene in 2011 devastated countless acres and farms in the Hudson Valley and surrounding areas, damaging crops at the peak of the harvesting season. The following year, Hurricane Sandy crippled the infrastructure of New York City exposing the vulnerabilities of our global food supply chain.
In response, Community Food Funders and partners sponsored a three-part series on risk and resiliency in our food system. During this breakfast series, funders, farmers, community leaders, and food systems experts throughout the tri-state region came together to share stories about how climate change and extreme weather are affecting regional food systems. We explored how Irene and Sandy reshaped notions of resiliency in the food system and impacted long-term disaster preparedness planning. Below is a summary of the three sessions that were held.
Emerging Solutions and Political Realities
June 11, 2013
Philanthropy New York
Long-time food systems innovators discussed the role of the philanthropic community in helping community groups, farmers, and government agencies prepare for future disasters. Panelists included Bev Eggleston, President and Founder of EcoFriendly Foods; Michael Hurwitz, Director of the Greenmarket Program at GrowNYC; and Dennis Derryck, Founder and President of Corbin Hill Farms. All three panelists shared stories of the high risk involved in financing and building regional food infrastructure and growing regional supply chains, as well as the need to use existing capacity more efficiently.
Stories and Community Responses
June 6, 2013
James West, senior producer at Climate Desk, facilitated a conversation that highlighted the need for continued community capacity building, response hubs, and mobile infrastructure. Panelists included Robyn Hillman-Harrigan, Executive Director at the Rockaway Rescue Alliance’s Shore Soup Project; Bre Lembitz and Sierra Spingarn, Occupy Sandy organizers; and Niaz Dorry, Coordinating Director of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance. In discussing how disasters reorder and reveal communities, these community-based “first responders” deployed a “go to and get to” strategy during the storm, identified “choke points,” emphasized the need to resource ongoing grassroots leadership development, and urged funders to consider the difference between relief and prevention.
Fostering Equity and Adaptation in a Post-Sandy World
May 28, 2013
North Star Fund
Panelists Jimmy Daukus of American Farmland Trust and Jean-Paul Courtens, a bio-dynamic farmer at Roxbury Farm, drew on their experiences in Hurricanes Irene and Sandy to share reflections and give advice about how producers can increase resiliency in the face of climate change. They suggested that affordable, long-term access to land is critical, especially if farmers are expected to shift to more sustainable growing practices.