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Harvesting Bronx Community Through Salad Dressing

Sheryll Durant, Food and Agriculture coordinator for New Roots Community Farm, planting deep purple onions for the Bronx Canasta salad dressing/marinade (photo: Diego Barcacel Pena)

by Diego Barcacel Pena

April 1, 2019

More than growing a product, Bronx Canasta hopes to grow community.

Bronx Canasta, a collaborative of seven Bronx-based social justice groups, is asking community members to submit recipes for a salad dressing/marinade . The ingredients for the marinade must be grown right here in the borough from resourceful urban gardens like New Roots Community Farm. The recipes will then be narrowed down to the best of the best and will be judged by Bronx chefs like Empanology. First-place will be given a cash prize of $500, along with the accompanying community recognition. Submissions are due by midnight April 15. Judging will be a month later on May 16.

Inspired by the Bronx Hot Sauce from Small Axe Peppers, this project has been made possible through a four-year grant provided by USDA Community Food Project Competitive.

Submit recipes towww.bronxcanasta.nyc by April 15.

“Our hope is that by asking Bronx residents to submit recipes they will feel more connected to the program and urban farms,” said Aleyna Rodriguez-Sanes, Canasta program director and Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center sustainability coordinator.

The idea is to partner with local farms to help alleviate food insecurity and increase access by selling an affordable value-added product.

This year, Canasta is partnering with three local farms and hopes to partner with four more by 2022.

New Roots Community Farm located on 670 Grand Concourse is a part of three urban farms working with the Bronx Canasta to alleviate food insecurity (photo: Diego Barcacel Pena)

One of these gardens, New Roots Community Farm at 670 Grand Concourse, is operated by 33 local gardeners, volunteers, and refugees from the International Rescue Committee, an organization that supports migrants from countries in crisis.

In addition to growing fresh produce like onions, spinach, and berries, New Roots is also a pollinator site with different types of flowers and bees that helped them harvest 100 pounds of honey in 2018.

For the Bronx salad dressing/marinade competition, New Roots will be growing onions and garlic, which is part of a mandatory ingredients list that also includes Serrano pepper, thyme, and oregano.

“By growing food for this competition we’re creating community and a product that’s quintessentially Bronx,” said Sheryll Durant, Food And Agriculture Coordinator for International Rescue Committee and New Roots Farm.

Bronx Canasta and New Roots are urging community members to take advantage of this incredible opportunity by submitting a step-by-step recipe and telling all about it.

Bulbing onions planted by a Bronx resident over the winter ready to be harvested (photo: Diego Barcacel Pena)

“We want the recipe to come from a Bronx resident and we want the produce to be grown in the Bronx,” said Rodriguez-Sanes. “We want to know your story. The Bronx is us, and we are the Bronx, and we want to do this together.”

Submit recipes to www.bronxcanasta.nyc by April 15.

Editor’s Note: The Bronx Canasta is made up of seven community groups, which include The Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center, Bronx Green-Up of the New York Botanical Garden, International Rescue Committee, Morris Campus Educational Farm, Friends of Brook Park, La Familia Verde Community Garden Coalition, and Small Axe Peppers.

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