New Co-Op Wants Local Food Revolution

Greene Hill Co-Op puts a modern twist on the Park Slope Coop's collectivist ethos.

A new co-op in Fort Greene aims to carry on the tradition of its renowned counterpart in Park Slope, and will have its inaugural sale of farm-fresh food next month.

Members of the new Greene Hill Co-Op are eager to add a Fort Greene and Clinton Hill twist to their co-op, though it will be modeled in many ways after the Park Slope Co-Op.

"It's younger and spunkier," said Kathryn Zarczynski, one of the founders of Greene Hill. "and it's guided by good advice and long years of experience with the Park Slope Co-Op."

Zarczynski and many others coordinators are also members of the Slope Co-Op, and say the two are cut from the same cloth.

Greene Hill Members — currently there are around 160 — will have to work monthly shifts to be able to buy the various products sold by Greene Hill, just like in Park Slope.

Greene Hill has a long way to go before it boasts over 15,000 members and 37 years of history like the Park Slope Co-Op, but members see similarities in their beginnings in very different eras.

Members say that Greene Hill is filling the same needs for Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant as the Park Slope Co-Op when it first opened in 1970.

"Park Slope was not as developed or economically successful when it started [in 1973]. The neighborhood grew up around them," said Anna Muessig, a spokeswoman for Greene Hill. "We're in a neighborhood that very much lacks those same resources [of affordable food], like the Slope in the 70s."

Joe Holtz, the general manager of the Park Slope Co-Op, saw the connection between the troubled Park Slope of the 1970s and the lack of quality food in Bedford-Stuyvesant, as well.

"There is a link in the need," said Holtz. "[In the 1970s] Park Slope needed good affordable food, as opposed to mediocre food."

With the co-ops future location at Putnam and Grand avenues, Muessig said the co-op is ideally situated to bring affordable food to Clinton Hill — a neighborhood that lacks quality food at affordable prices — while also addressing the dire food needs of Bed-Stuy, a neighborhood that was declared a "food desert" by the city.

Still, the co-ops were born out of different eras, Muessig noted.

"We're a different generation," she said. "The Park Slope Co-Op was linked with [a larger] cultural revolution. We're finding a home in terms of rhetoric with the local food movement." Our mission resonates with the local food, farm to table, organic movement. They are kind of the mature movements of what was started in the 60s."

And that movement will reach a new milestone when the co-op hands over its first bounty of food from a farm in Pennsylvania over to it's members next month.


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