The City-Goers CSA

How Nextdoorganics is Translating High Impact Politics into Culinary Creativity

by: Amanda Kay Mannshahia

Continuing on with our NYC series, let’s shift our focus to another borough, where Brooklyn’s Nextdoorganics is redefining food delivery to operate on more sustainable terms for both the farmer and consumer.

Based out of their Bed-Stuy hub, Nextdoorganics is the brainchild of founders Josh Cook and Chris Schumaker. Both possessing histories in farming, the duo first began by utilizing an open acre of land on Schumaker’s parents’ tree farm to work a small-scale agriculture project. After bringing produce down to Buschwick’s farmers market, they decided to take matters into their own hands and start up their own CSA (community-supported agriculture) business.

Nextdoororganics Cargo Bike

“Designed to make a more stable set up for the farmer, the CSA doesn’t always translate to the best consumer experience,” says Cook “blocking a lot of people from access to local fresh foods.” This philosophy sets Nextdoorganics apart from most other CSAs. Their flexible financial program allows you to pay as you go, bringing the same benefits to small-scale farmers while accommodating city lifestyles. Subscriptions are done on a week-by-week basis, for only 20 to 50 dollars a month.

In an effort to thwart the monopoly that is the industrial food system, the team has a preference for small-scale start-up projects when it comes to sourcing. “We feel like it is our responsibility to make sure the story of the farm’s resonate authenticity and are aligned with our core values.” For example, insists Cook, “Its not just a tomato. Its a tomato harvested from a women-run, LGBT-friendly farm in the Hudson Valley. You see, the back story informs the value of the tomato.”

Packaged Lettuce from Nextdoororganics

Besides their fresh and ethical produce, Nextdoorganics also offers completely customizable packages with meat, egg, juicing, cheese, pantry and bread options. These “plus” packages also include small-batch only items, a category supported by a growing community of food-makers in NYC.

When I asked him what NYC seems to be craving, Cook elaborated on the small-scale foraging trend that is exciting consumers all around. One instance of this trend occurs on organic farms in New Jersey. “Here forager’s are taking beach plums, an invasive species that farms would normally consider weeds, and using them sustainably.”

Packaging Plant at Nextdoororganics

Among Nextdoor’s most popular foraged goods are their seasonal spruce tree tips. “Consumer’s get excited about these new specialty ingredients” Cook tells us, “It changes the experience of cooking by making it a new fun game for them to figure out how to use it in a dish.”

Back at the Bed-Stuy storefront hub, consumers can walk in and see a behind the scenes view of what it really takes to run NYC’s only year-round CSA. Between farmer’s at the front door packaging orders and cargo bicycles zipping out with their next order, this image paints a picture of transparency for our food versus the anonymity of the everyday grocery store.

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