The crops are thriving, but in Malverne is far from becoming self-sustaining.
The non-profit Nassau Land Trust, which operates the farm that Nassau County purchased from the Grossmann Family in 2007, sent out an email blast Monday soliciting donations and stating that "funds are urgently needed to help cover the farm's operating expenses while it becomes self-sustaining."
When the Grossmann Family, which privately owned and operated the farm from 1895 to 2007, put the land up for sale many Malvernites expressed concerns about the property being developed. But through the 2006 Environmental Bond Act, Nassau County was able to acquire the five-acre farm for $6,538,233 and preserve it for agricultural purposes. After putting out a request for proposals, the with the Nassau Land Trust to run the farm, which requires the non-profit to raise $200,000 to cover the annual operating expenses.
Since they , located at the corner of Ocean and Hempstead Avenues, on April 30, 2011, the Nassau Land Trust has been selling a combination of certified-organic produce actually grown there, as well as crops harvested from farms throughout the area, and baked goods and handmade products from local vendors.
To help with the farm work, the Nassau Land Trust hired staff but also recruited volunteers in the area, and introduced educational and training programs that cater to different age groups. It also gradually introduced a Community Supporting Agriculture (CSA) coupon program, which encourages residents to regularly purchase produce from the farm by offering them a discount. A number of needy Nassau County residents have also benefited from food donations from the farm, according to the Nassau Land Trust.
"Every donation will bring us a step closer to ensuring that the Farm’s educational and training programs continue to thrive," stated the email, which also reminded readers that had Nassau County not saved the farm, a 180-unit condominium complex could have been built there.
Silvana LaFerlita Gullo, executive director of the Nassau Land Trust, told Patch Tuesday that the farm in Malverne is NLT's "only major project" and they are committed to raising whatever is needed to make it succeed.
"That's where we are focusing our efforts. We want to make sure that farm becomes the model," Gullo said.
But Gullo says the NLT knew from the beginning that it would take a few years before the farm had a chance to be self-sustaining.
"It's not that the business is not doing well, but making that piece of farm self-sustaining is going to take awhile," she said. "They have to produce enough to fill the farm stand and sell enough to be self-sustaining ... The program grew faster than the revenue."
Gullo explained that the fundraising drive launched Monday is just one piece of the puzzle, stating, "We're really just starting from scratch."
She's been writing grants and there are other programs in the works that will be announced soon to bring in more funds for the farm, as well as some grassroots efforts.
Those interested in making a donation to the Nassau Land Trust to support the "We Love Crossroads Farm Campaign" can do so here.