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Crossroads Farm in Malverne 'Urgently' Needs Funding [Updated]

Nassau Land Trust, operator of the county-owned farm, makes urgent plea for donations to cover operating expenses.

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.

Joseph J Tambini August 21, 2012 at 12:00 AM
obviously the county needs to promote the property more effectively. The same reason folks from the city travel to the East End, to purchase produce, they should find a reason to travel to this beatiful litle farm. It's conveniently located to major roads. The community needs to find a way to provide more parking. Perhaps a petting zoo and a more kid friendly atmoshpere would help. The county cannot afford to lose land like this to housing. County residents need to shop for food at places like this instead of Walmart
John Heinrich August 21, 2012 at 07:17 AM
How about a section of the farm to grow grapes & explain long Island Grape Growing/Wine industry ? Have and sell Exclusively.... Long Island Wines & Beer !!! Wine and Beer tastings ext ?
Robert Powers August 21, 2012 at 11:35 AM
The Malverne Historical Society an other civic associations have been working with the Land Trust is ways to reach out to the community. We were told from the very begining by lloyd that the residents would be able to be involved with the farm and kept updated on all decision being made at the farm. But so far all of our suggestions have gone in deaf ears. We talking about reaching out to all of the civic leaders and merchants as well as the residents. I continue to ask why Malverne Mel is not allowed to reside on the farm...so far we have see no Christmas tree, strawberry or apple festivals or even plants for Mother's Day. Thee farm is not offering anything we can't get at our grocery stores or the farmers market in Rockville Centre and for a better price There have been many missed opportunities to reach out to all Malvernites. All I ask is that the Nassau Trust listen to what the residents are asking and that you let the civic associations and the residents in to help the farm succeed. all the civic leaders and residents are asking is that the council running the farm reach out and let us be a part if the farm...
Peter Robideau August 21, 2012 at 12:16 PM
In early talks they were discussing co-op farming where you could rent a small plot of land, plant your own vegetables and maintain it yourself while adhering to "organic" guidelines. Is this off the table now?
Sue Eigl August 21, 2012 at 12:30 PM
I agree with Robert's comments they really need to up their game if they want to stay in business Have been to the farm a few times some of the items are expensive They are also missing many marketing opportunities like he stated with so many people in this area frequenting farmers markets there is no reason this farm should not be able to do well Also as stated maybe they should explore having an occasional wine tasting with organic wines or some events that.are for children
Tom Garrett August 21, 2012 at 12:55 PM
It appears that Nassau Land Trust does not have the incentive of making a profit and is only required to cover its expenses? This is no way to run any business and if the goal is to only cover expenses then it is unfortunately going to fail. It is not clear if the Nassau Land Trust is a private concern or a quasi Government entity. Whatever the case may be it needs to be run like any other private farm and the goal needs to be profit and all of the avenues to make it profitable should be explored and implemented. I have made a number of purchases there and the produce I purchased is great but if not for the fresh corn sign you would drive right by it. Try some advertising and get better signage……. The Tax payers are on the hook for 6.5 million and whomever is contracted to run the farm on the tax payers behalf really needs to that that responsibility seriously and to this point if they are looking for donations and based on some of the comments, it appears they are not…..
Silvana LaFerlita Gullo, Nassau Land Trust August 21, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Dear Mr. Tambini, The Nassau Land Trust has big plans for the Farm.. step one, of course, is to ensure we can cover operations. We would love to share our Farms Across the County plans with you. Thank you for your interest. Silvana LaFerlita Gullo, Nassau Land Trust
Bill Breuer August 21, 2012 at 02:25 PM
This project was doomed from the outset. All parties involved, especially the Village Mayor, Village Trustees and Village Planning Board, in my opinion, cloaked this project in secrecy without any regard for reality. The Village never challenged the viability of the project. As a result, the Village facilitated the purchase of the land for 6.5 million dollars in return for thirty pieces of silver in the form of a useless parcel of land and the right to turn over the management of the "farm" to friends of the Mayor. The situation calls for a major investigation of every aspect of this boondoggle.
Silvana LaFerlita Gullo, Nassau Land Trust August 21, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Love this idea! As the new Executive Director of the Nassau Land Trust I'm excited about the prospects this farm inspires. I would be happy to explore this idea further. Please feel free to contact me directly (sgullo@nassaulandtrust.org)
Maria August 21, 2012 at 02:44 PM
well said. With the exeption of the corn there was not much for me to choose from when I went there to purchase things last week. Ended up leaving with a container of blueberries for $5.25. food stores are cheaper. I would love to spend my money there but want at least a fair price.
Kelly August 21, 2012 at 04:23 PM
If they are looking for the residents to be more involved, do so by creatng events that bring something of interest to the whole family. I would love to be able to bring my son to an event there more than once a year. They should try to have something perhaps even monthly. Something for the kids to look forward to. They love to go there. A few animals. A tractor. A little musical entertainment. Face painting perhaps? The farm could sell raffles, baked goods etc.. to raise cash. That surely would help ease the operating costs burden a bit. Sincerely, 4th generation Malverne resident
Suzanne Kraemer-Parra August 21, 2012 at 05:13 PM
The mission of the Nassau County Land Trust in relation to Crossroads Farm at Grossmann's was and is to protect open space and enhance the quality of life of Nassau County residents as a whole and Malverne residents in particular. When the Land Trust first acquired the farm, The Malverne Historical Society hosted a gathering where residents were welcome to hear plans for the farm, express questions and concerns and have their voices heard. The outpouring of community support along with the influx of residents willing to volunteer was quite moving. Unfortunately that is where the ferver came to a halt. Since that time suggestions for farm betterment from both residents and community organizations have been ignored or quickly dismissed. Proposals for farm animals (including the housing of Malverne Mel), suggestions for off peak markets (such as Christmas trees) and general fundraising ideas are all for naught. This is a Village of volunteers. There is nothing for which the residents will not come together. This farm and it's success is vital for our community. I urge the Land Trust to listen to the residents of Malverne and make Crossroads Farm at Grossmann's what you put forth in your mission statement - a regional showpiece displaying the importance of farmland preservation. The residents of Malverne deserve nothing less.
Tenaya August 21, 2012 at 05:18 PM
As a long-time resident of West Hempstead, I have fond memories of going to the farm in my youth, with my grandfather, for produce. Now as an adult, I volunteer in my spare time with Nassau Land Trust, the current operator of Crossroads Farm at Grossman's. Some of the ideas I read in the comments posted are wonderful. My suggestion, for any community member interested in doing so, is to contact Nassau Land Trust's Executive Director, she has provided her email above, to share your thoughts and ideas on what you would like to see the farm offer the community, in additon to it's fresh produce and products. Your feedback is welcomed. To have a farm in our community is a very unique opportunity, one we should all be able to benefit from and enjoy. Please contact Nassau Land Trust's Executive Director and share your ideas.
Mrs. Malverne August 21, 2012 at 05:31 PM
I used to frequent Grossman's all season.... now, Crossroads offers a limited selection of products at a very high price. Last week, I saw a bumper crop of tomatoes in baskets and on tables and was told "we have too many ! " Well, I bought 5 tennis ball size homegrown tomatoes at almost $5.00 a lb... it came to almost $10.00 ($2.00 a tomato !). If you have "too many", sell them at a lower price and people will buy them. Instead they are asking for donations. Right now I say, let them rot and see how much you get for them.... shame. Obviously,this is not run as a business. Poor management of their resouces, including volunteers, produce, marketing and community involvement. Is there an accounting of their funds available to the public ? Time for a change in how Crossroads is run.....
J. amlett August 21, 2012 at 06:32 PM
I think renting small plots is a good idea. But then what happens in the wintertime?
ann nesbitt August 22, 2012 at 12:01 AM
First of all, you need to get the word out to the public that you are open all week long. I just found out, and have mentioned it to some friends who had no idea! I know I don't mind spending a "little" more for quality fruits and veggies, but I can't afford to pay double or more what the supermarkets are asking.
R Solon August 25, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Crossroads Farm has such potential to be a major success. Not just for the Malverne residents, but for all of of the neighboring communities as well. The produce that they offer is wonderfully fresh and delicious. But the prices that it's offered at are so high that it's just not economically feasible for a lot of people to purchase it. Lower the prices, in some cases, by at least half. Utilize the many people who offer to volunteer their services. And PUT SIGNS OUT to attract attention to the farm. It's just wonderful that we on Western LI can get farm fresh produce without having to drive an hour and a half to get it. Let people know that it's available!
Mrs. Malverne August 27, 2012 at 10:03 PM
As I asked last Tuesday, can we see the "books" ?, so we, as taxpayers,will know how the funds are managed. Poor business practices should not be rewarded with more money through donations, being thrown at Crossroads.

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