Photo © Yuka Yoneda
Music and local food united this weekend in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park for the first ever Great GoogaMooga, a 2-day festival boasting about 75 food vendors, local brewers, winemakers and live music from the likes of The Roots and Hall & Oates. But foodies got a lot more than long lines and gourmet burgers. Just Food, a pioneer in sustainable food programming in New York, helped curate what they called the "The UrBarn Experience". The recycled wood UrBarn structure was intended to physically represent the farm meeting the city and created a community space for learning about sustainable eats at the festival.
Just Food is a nonprofit organization that connects communities in all five boroughs with fresh, local grown food. Since 1995, they have championed the growth of sustainable food programs including CSAs, community-run farmers’ markets, and farm-to-food pantry programs. For more info, visit justfood.org.
Jacquie Berger, executive director of Just Food, told Inhabitat that the organization got involved with the festival about a year and a half ago when Superfly Presents, organizers of the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival and the San Francisco-based Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival, approached them thanks to a referral from Michael Pollan.
“Food had a big presence at Outside Lands and because of its success, Superfly wanted a partner in New York City that was involved in the food community,” Berger told us. “Michael Pollan recommended us because he knew that we would be the perfect farm-to-food partner. We have extensive experience working with CSAs, raising awareness about food security, and community food educational programming.”
So they created the UrBarn pavilion to host exhibits, interactive activities and educate festival participants on sustainability and local, seasonal eating. Pratt Institute architecture and design students collaborated with the Rockwell Group to build the structure.
“We hosted a design jam and told them of our plans to help everyone at the festival interact,” she said. “The final product was based on a student concept and we were so happy for them to get that professional experience.”
Events throughout the weekend included a worm workshop, a sausage-making demo with Adam Kaye from Blue Hill at Stone Barns and The Great CSA Smackdown with local chefs competing to create delicious meals with boxes of locally grown veggies in 20 minutes or less.
“So many people are intimidated by the vegetables that come in the CSA boxes,” Berger said. “We wanted to celebrate that unpredictability and teach basic cooking skills so people can have more ideas for how to create tasty meals with their produce.”
Just Food also gave out seed bombs—a mixture of clay, compost, soil and wildflower seeds that people can throw into empty lots as an act of guerrilla gardening to help green and beautify the city. They also exhibited, “A Journey of Two Tomatoes,” a poster highlighting the journey of tomatoes through the industrial farm system and the organic/sustainable system and showing the impact of our food choices on the environment.
Photos © Suzanne Boothby and Yuka Yoneda