Bed-Stuy Bounty Brings the Farm to Brooklyn

By Paul DeBenedetto on March 13, 2013 9:34am 

 Melissa Danielle runs Bed-Stuy Bounty, a food-buying club that allows members to buy healthy organic food in bulk, directly from local farmers.
Melissa Danielle runs Bed-Stuy Bounty, a food-buying club that allows members to buy healthy organic food in bulk, directly from local farmers.
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DNAinfo/Paul DeBenedetto

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Bedford-Stuyvesant has for years been considered a "food desert" by some, a designation that rankles Melissa Danielle.

Having lived in Bed-Stuy her whole life, Danielle sees a more complicated problem than just providing new access to food. It's also getting people to care about the food they eat, and showing people how to get healthy food on their own, instead of relying on outside organizations.

"I've always been interested in how people can be galvanized to solve their own problems," Danielle said.

To that end, Danielle created Bed-Stuy Bounty, a food-buying club celebrating its first anniversary in April, that allows members to buy healthy organic food in bulk, directly from local farmers, and have it delivered to a location in Bed-Stuy.

Every week, members can place their order, choosing only the amount he or she needs. Once enough orders have been placed, one bulk order goes out to the food producer. A first-year membership costs $75, with additional years costing $40.

A health coach by trade, Danielle became interested in food in college. After being treated for allergies, she decided to do research into nutrition and how certain foods affected the body. 

After graduating from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition she wanted a better understanding of where food comes from and how it makes its way into communities. She managed three farmers markets in the city, where she met with farmers and came to understand their issues.

It was at the farmers markets, while working at Whole Foods and while running a CSA called Bed-Stuy Farm Share where she said she came to understand that not only the affluent are interested in buying healthy foods. It was about how people valued food, Danielle said.

"Do not assume what people will spend their money on," Danielle said. "People will make money, and spend time and money on the things they want."

Then while attending a technology meetup called Food and Tech connect, she met the creators of a group called Wholeshare, which specializes in helping local organizations set up a group purchasing model.

Danielle said she saw it as a way to make a real change in bringing good food to her community, instead of waiting for others to make a change.

"I was getting really, really frustrated with what happens in a lot of different communities around the country like this one," Danielle said. "I really have a low tolerance for self-pity and bellyaching. I'm going to do what I want to do, and anyone who wants to participate is welcome to join me."

Bed-Stuy Bounty took its first order in April 2012. A year later, it has about 30 members and has spent more than $20,000, Danielle said.

It also shows members that they don't have to leave their own community to eat right, Danielle said.

"I'm just interested in giving people options," Danielle said. "If you want to eat good food, you don't have to leave your neighborhood."

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