New York/Northeast, focused on food sovereignty and security, ecological restoration, serving the pan-AAPI community
About the Organization:
Choy Commons envisions a future where AAPI communities are farming in rhythm with seasons, restoring reciprocal relationships with land, regionally adapting ancestral foodways for future generations, and ensuring food security for AAPI households. We strengthen relationships between growers and communities primarily through community farming experiences, market gatherings, preserving ancestral foodways, facilitating community education, and storytelling.
$0 - $50,000
Choy Commons seeks to address food justice for AAPI farmers and food insecure AAPI communities in New York. Food insecurity within Asian America is culturally complex. Those in poverty suffer in relative silence due to patterns obscured within data aggregation, language and cultural barriers, and resulting oversight in social services. The model minority myth has led to the perception that few Asian Americans have difficulty affording or accessing the food they need. Furthermore, the perception of Asian America as a monolith has metastasized into viewing Chinese communities through single neighborhoods, to the detriment of those outside of a singular “Chinatown”. In the study Hidden in Plain Sight: Asian Poverty in the New York Metro Area (2021) conducted by Asian American Federation from 2010 to 2019, the number of Asian Americans living in poverty increased from 252,000 to almost 290,000. Despite a lower density, Asian American poverty surged the most in the Hudson Valley, where the total Asian American population grew by 16 percent but the number of low-income Asian Americans increased by 86 percent.
Racism is foundational in today’s food system, which explains why communities of color suffer the most from resource inequality and environmental externalities and why most organic farming is mostly done by white people for other white people. Less than 1% of farmers in the United States identify as Asian. As AAPI farmers, we endure physical and emotional pain and hardship, and take uncommon risks to survive as small-scale growers. As a community, we endure an increasing number of challenges that increase our levels of stress (e.g small business risks, labor shortage, climate crisis, lack of financial security, inaccessible USDA support for small-scale BIPOC farmers, affordable housing). We want farming to be work that preserves rather than destroys us, but struggle against a market where pricing does not reflect the value of our labor alongside inflation, infrastructure, and distribution barriers. Our organization seeks to weave a community web of producers and consumers, where one hand feeds the other and isolated parts can combine their mutual power to uplift our region’s food system and wellbeing.
We are seeking support to help fund the operational costs of our Choy Commons Wholesale program and Community Farm Crew work days. The Wholesale program builds capacity for Asian-led farms in our network by consolidating the harvest lists of Gentle Time Farm, Star Route Farm, and Choy Division, three Asian-led farms located in the Hudson Valley. Buyers of locally grown Asian produce can source from one place while conserving farmer resources through consolidated collaboration on outreach, logistics, and buyer relations. We are focused on working with buyers who serve Asian diaspora or want to support Asian-led farms. In solidarity, we offer discounted community pricing for partner AAPI food access buyers, including Heart of Dinner, Send Chinatown Love, Red Canary Song, Asian Americans for Equality, and Wat Buddha Thai Thavorn Vanaram.
The Choy Commons Community Farm Crew is a group of verified, values-aligned volunteers to call upon when farms in our network are in need of extra hands and support. These opportunities prioritize people who identify as AAPI. People in the city have less opportunity to know farmers or experience farming; these experiences will allow people to connect with farmers, grow their ancestral foods, practice land-based traditions, be in relationship with land, and build a greater sense of belonging to a community who share their values and vision. The farmers will benefit from the extra physical help and spiritual support while getting to know those they serve. We are offering this program to weave sustaining relationships between farms and community members beyond one-off volunteering. Through the success of our multiple on-farm gleaning projects last year, we believe this effort will be another way in which we create an integrated food system through collective care.
We also provide culturally relevant produce for organizations with related missions that focus on food access for the AAPI community, such as a pilot CSA program developed in partnership with Gentle Time Farm and Asian Americans For Equality to serve the East Harlem AAPI senior community who currently travel cross-borough to buy their groceries. We will be serving 100-400 families weekly through the season.