If you’ve been dreaming of a farm-to-table local food distribution system more like that of the 19th century, instead of the 21st century fossil-fuel dependent, air- and truck-freight, far-removed from its source system we have today, head down to the Hudson River and head to the Brooklyn Navy Yard and check out the Vermont Sail Freight Project’s sailing vessel, the Ceres, delivering local food from Vermont to New York City by waterways.
The Vermont Sail Freight Project presents a carbon-neutral distribution model that supports a local food and farm economy. The project itself “launched” in April 2012, but after a year and a half of fundraising, construction and marketing, Ceres’ maiden voyage finally began on October 5 from Shoreham, Vermont. It has been making its way down the Hudson all month, stopping at a dozen or so ports to deliver its cargo, arriving in New York City on October 25. The vessel, aptly named after the goddess of grain, uses traditional sail mechanics to power the vessel, but is rooted in 21st century Internet and open source technology: The project was crowd funded with an initial investment of $15,000, and uses online sales to secure and plan delivery. The project partners intend on keeping the vessels design open source on line so that farmers who want to consider delivering their products by water can replicate the design. For more about Ceres’ design and construction, click here.
Photo courtesy/published with permission of Vermont Sail Freight Project The vessel will bring mostly shelf-stable farm goods that won’t lose quality during a trip of up to 10 days at or a little below room temperature. The focus is on grains and dry beans, jams, jellies, syrups and preserves, dried herbs, apples, and most fall storage crops like onions, squash and potatoes from farmers and producers in and near Vermont. The vessel do not carry produce and other food products that require a cooler to keep fresh, in part because of the project’s environmental mission, but also because in the project directors’ view, fresh produce requires less space than grains and other nonperishable crops, and can be grown economically in small, intensive farms in and near cities. The project is a good complementary distribution method to urban and peri-urban agriculture for the crops that need more, less expensive, land to grow and have to travel farther to be delivered.
Photo courtesy/published with permission of Vermont Sail Freight ProjectChefs and other buyers picked up their orders this weekend at stops (and accompanying celebrations) on the Brooklyn waterfront and in Manhattan, at the New Amsterdam market at South Street Seaport). It’s currently docked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, from which it will depart New York City and begin its journey home to Vermont on Friday, November 1, 2013.
Jimmy’s 43 Restaurant in the East Village is holding a “farm-to-ship-to-chef” prix fixe vegetarian dinner tonight at 7 p.m. The sold-out dinner, part of Jimmy’s “Vegetarian Nonsense” series, will incorporate ingredients delivered by Vermont Sail Freight project, including local hard cider options. This event closes out Cider Week NY, a week long celebration of New York State cider and hard cider makers, with events in New York City and the Hudson Valley. NYC Foodscape will be there and will follow up with photos and menu items from tonight’s dinner, and hopefully, stories of adventure from the sailors themselves.