Forest Hills Tuv Ha’Aretz CSA, a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm share program, is now in its eleventh year. Delivering Fresh Organic vegetables to Forest Hills, New York straight from the farm. Recognizing the implications of the food choices we make, we see Tuv Ha’Aretz as an opportunity to improve our health, minimize our impact on the environment, build community, and connect with our Jewish values. We are associated with Hazon, a Jewish environmental organization passionate about building healthier and more sustainable communities in the Jewish world and beyond, as well as Just Food, a NYC-based organization that connects communities with local farms. We are excited to partner with Norwich Meadows Farm
Felicia Seidel has been a co-chair of the Forest Hills Tuv Ha’Aretz CSA for the last 10 years. She is the volunteer coordinator and she helps designing and maintaining our website and Facebook page. You can meet her on helping open up the pickup. She is usually the one chatting and sharing recipes at the unpacking table.
When did you first hear about CSA and did that change you in any way? I think it was back in 2009. I was talking to some friends and they said they thought I would be interested in joining a CSA, and boy were they right! I remember taking a yoga class and getting a flyer from Hila Abel, one of the founders of the Forest Hills Tuv Ha’Aretz CSA. Once I found out what a CSA was and how it seemed like a perfect fit for me and my family I joined and met such wonderful like-minded people.
What is it that makes our CSA special? I remember the passion and enthusiasm and also the uncertainty of starting a new endeavor. I loved working with Hila and Jackie and Celia. We were not sure if this would catch on, and there was another CSA in the neighborhood, but we had a pretty big membership the first year which continued to grow in the subsequent years. I enjoyed working alongside Michelle and Alexa and now Judy. We both have an easy going attitude and we work well together. We have a great core group which really supports our efforts.
Please tell us a bit about your life beyond CSA. I have had my own business “Felicitations” since 1982. I do custom invitations and hand calligraphy. Also – for the last ten years I work as an administrative assistant for Beverly Sacks Fine Art, a gallery in New York City. I also design websites. I am a long-time Forest Hills/Rego Park resident, but not as long as my husband Barry who was born and raised here, and even got Bar-Mitzvah-ed at the Forest Hills Jewish Center. We have two fabulous daughters. Rebecca is a senior at Wesleyan University (UPDATE 2021: Rebecca is now a producer at Marvel Entertainment) and Emilie has been working at Trader Joe’s in Forest Hills since they opened. Emilie is a great help in the kitchen, she actually prepares most of our meals and always figures out interesting things to do with all the unusual (and usual) CSA vegetables! I have been a vegetarian for most of my life and have always focused on a healthy lifestyle which includes healthy eating and yoga and exercise. As an artist I live creatively which does include cooking. I love to take what’s around and make something interesting and delicious. That is why the CSA has worked so well for me.
Which vegetables do you look forward to? Hmmm – I have to say I do like almost everything we get in the CSA box. I love the early spring garlic scapes. They are so wonderfully unusual and fun looking! That is one vegetable that I never knew about before the CSA. This year we had an amazing tomato crop and I learned to slow roast them, which makes them taste like candy. I continue to buy tomatoes and slow roast them and I am a fan of all the gorgeous leafy vegetables we get in the share.
2015 Interview by Marija Sajkas, member Tuv Ha’Aretz CSA
Felicia Seidel, Co-Chair Forest Hills Tuv Ha’Aretz CSA
All who are members of our CSA know of Judy Trupin from the emails she sends out about special shares and other CSA announcements. A member of Forest Hills Tuv Haaretz since 2010, Judy first served as coordinator of unclaimed shares pickups, and became one of 4 co-chairs in 2011. This season it’s a smaller team of co-chairs – just two. The other co-chair is Felicia Seidel, who Judy describes as “wonderful to work with.” Judy’s main tasks include being our liaison to the farm as well as managing our finances. She also set up our wiggio site and organizes the newsletter volunteers, collecting articles to send to newsletter editor Maki Hoashi.
A vegetarian since the age of 16, Judy is eclectic person. She teaches ESL to adults, conducts professional development sessions for ESL teachers and is a yoga instructor. She wrote about nutrition in the past, and is also very interested in making art, currently working on a video production of “Worlds in Our Eyes” a performance she did in collaboration with visual artist Israel Tsvaygenbaum. Judy has been a member of a CSA member for over 20 years.
It seems that you were at the front of the CSA movement. Could you tell us more about early days of it?
Judy: When I lived in Albany, I was a member of the very first CSA in New York State – run by Janet Britt in Schaghticoke, New York. At that time CSAs were much more common Upstate than in the city. Involvement then was pretty much like today. You were a member because you believed in supporting local farmers and organic produce. What was different between Janet’s CSA and Tuv, was that our member job requirement was actually working on the farm. Each member did 6 hours of farm work during the summer. It was easier to do that because the farm was closer to Albany – about a 45 minutes drive away. We had some great potlucks after the weeding sessions at the farm. Sometimes, I did a storytelling performance for the kids.
How would you describe yourself as a CSA member?
Judy: For me it is all about community involvement. I like the feeling of knowing people from the neighborhood. I’ve met a lot of really wonderful people through Tuv.
As to the food, I would say that I am fearless when it comes to new vegetables. Some new members are not sure what to do when faced with something new – but that’s never an issue for me. I love surprises and am happy with whatever we get. Of course, I do have my favorites – radicchio , all the leafy greens, such as arugula, and winter squash in the fall. And anyone who’s seen me at winter pick up knows that I adore rutabaga!
Is there a recipe that you would like to share?
Judy: I have to confess – I love to cook but I never follow recipes. For me it’s a somewhat intuitive process of looking at what I have in the kitchen and figuring out how to put it together. A number of years ago, under pressure from friends, I did write a cookbook called A Concoctionist’s Cookbook. I had to really push myself to measure and write things down. I tend to just toss things together based on intuition of what will blend well!
What are you doing with the current shares?
Judy: I don’t have AC at home so right now I focus on cooling foods. Lately I have been making a lot of grated salads. A current favorite is grated beets, zucchini and carrots.
You are an artist and a yoga teacher. Is there a connection between the art, spirituality and the healthy living?
Absolutely. Yoga teaches us to respect the earth, to honor our bodies and to live simply. How better to do that than to join a CSA? And as an artist – well that’s probably why I can’t use recipes – I see every CSA box as a venture in creativity!
What is it that you like the most about our CSA? Do you have a message for our members who are thinking about joining the core group?
I feel really good that we are supporting a farm on Long Island. I like having the connection to them and knowing that our buying choices make a difference.
And, as I said, I love getting to know our CSA members. I really enjoy going to pickup, and seeing others get as excited as I do over a beautiful bunch of kale or some wonderfully fresh basil. And yes, if you have the time, do join the core group. Everyone brings their own expertise and insight – there’s no recipe for success – it’s a wonderful adhoc mix of talents!
For information about joining Judy’s yoga classes in Kew Gardens, please email her at email@example.com)
2015 Interview by Marija Sajkas, Member Tuv Ha’Aretz CSA
Judy Trupin, Co-Chair Tuv Ha’Aretz CSA
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