Let Them Eat Kale: Corbin Hill Farm
Unlike a traditional CSA design, Dennis Derryck’s Corbin Hill Farm network is designed to fit the needs of low-income consumers in Harlem and South Bronx.
The folks behind Harlem-based Corbin Hill Farm don’t see sustainably grown local produce as a passing craze for the foodie elite; on the contrary, they’re figuring out a way to make it accessible to low-income communities on a large scale.
Founder and longtime Harlem resident Dennis Derryck has long been aware that people in his community and the nearby South Bronx don’t have much access to good, fresh food. But when it came to solutions, as he saw it, “all these small and beautiful things had very little impact. School gardens, rooftop gardens, educational programs—at the end of the program, where was the parent or the kid supposed to go?”
Derryck saw promise of more lasting change in the community-supported agriculture (CSA) model. But a traditional CSA design—in which members essentially invest in a local farm by paying a large share at the beginning of the season—wouldn’t work for neighborhoods where many residents live on food stamps and struggle to make rent on time. So Derryck tweaked the model to make sense for low-income consumers: Corbin Hill shareholders pay only a week in advance, can put their shares on hold at any time, and can use any form of payment—including food stamps. The program caters to neighborhood cultural tastes by including items like cilantro, tomatillos, and collard greens when possible, and every box comes with recipes written in both Spanish and English.