In Sandy’s Wake: Surveying the Damage at Red Hook’s Added Value Farm

The impact of Hurricane Sandy was measured in many ways: feet of water, billions of dollars, days of school closures. At Added Value, the Red Hook community farm fueled by the work of youth volunteers, it was measured in pounds of sweet potatoes.

Teen workers sort seed garlic in the greenhouse.

The impact of Hurricane Sandy was measured in many ways: feet of water, billions of dollars, days of school closures. At Added Value, the Red Hook community farm fueled by the work of youth volunteers, it was measured in pounds of sweet potatoes.

The Saturday before Sandy surged through the metropolitan area, workers harvested more than 400 pounds of autumn sweet potatoes. They stored the potatoes in shipping containers reinforced against the coming storm, but in vain: all but a couple dozen pounds were destroyed when both the Gowanus Bay and the Buttermilk Channel flooded on Monday, October 29, bursting into the containers and drowning the farm’s one and a half acres of crops under three feet of water.

Post-storm, workers at the farm have been organizing ways to get fresh food back into the kitchens of Red Hook residents still working through lingering neighborhood difficulties. Those at Added Value see food justice and food availability as key issues in the neighborhood’s rehabilitation.

“Access to healthy food is going to be a huge part of the recovery for people here,” said Ian Marvy, 39, who co-founded Added Value with current Greenmarkets Director Michael Hurwitz in 2001.

Hand-painted welcome signs at Added Value, the community farm and youth empowerment program in Red Hook.

He said that in the wake of Sandy, two out of three of the area’s supermarkets closed, limiting residents’ access to wholesome food.

In response, Added Value has joined with the city’s Greenmarkets, local farms and an organization called WhyHunger to launch a “pop-up farm stand” in Red Hook. At the first market, held on Tuesday, November 20, farms like Glebocki Farms and Wilklow Orchards donated more than 10 tons of yams, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, apples and more. Residents with EBT were able to pay for the produce with food stamps.

Marvy said the pop-up markets will continue each Wednesday and Saturday until they’re no longer needed.

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