If NYC can take anything from Irene, it is two things: we are lucky and we are prepared.
Unfortunately, most upstate farms were neither. According to today’s Daily News, more than 80 percent of upstate family farms that provide produce for NYC’s 53 green markets were damaged by the storm. When it is this late in the summer crop season, it’s highly improbable that the nearly 190 inundated farms will be able to recuperate in time to yield the carrots, onions, spinach, baby beets, arugula, winter squash and pumpkins that we normally expect to see by the fall.
But that does not mean that farmer market lovers should freight. If anything, I see this as an opportunity for urbanites, both upstate and downstate, to support one of our most underutilized assets: empty lot gardens. These urban diamonds turn vacant lots that are otherwise filled with shredded tires, rodents and debris into a bearer of community empowerment.