By Leslie Albrecht
UPPER WEST SIDE — A former Upper West Sider who left the corporate world to reinvent himself as an organic farmer will return to his old neighborhood later this month to give residents a taste of farm life — literally.
Phil Stober, who moved from a West 72nd Street apartment to a 17-acre farm in Lebanon, Pa. a few years ago, is opening a stand on Riverside Boulevard where he'll sell produce from Bare Foot Organics, the USDA-certified organic farm he and his wife manage.
If all goes as planned, the farm stand will open June 28, and will sell produce every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in a cul-de-sac on Riverside Boulevard between West 64th and 66th streets, Stober said.
The spot is about a three-hour drive from Stober's farm in Pennsylvania. His stand will also stock fruit, eggs, and cheese from Amish farmers in Lancaster County, Pa.
Like many people, Stober took stock of his life after 9/11. His 25-year career in sport event marketing, while fun, didn't seem to make much difference in the world, he said.
Stober, who has a green thumb, decided to become a farmer. Bare Foot Organics now grows about 50 varieties of produce.
"People have to eat," Stober said. "Food is real. There's no artifice about it. People need the product that I sell. They didn't need the product I was selling before. It makes me feel emotionally better."
Organic food is also better for you and tastes better, says Slava Hazin, board president of the Avery, one the high-rise apartment buildings that line Riverside Boulevard.
Hazin encouraged Stober to set up the farm stand after he saw the documentary movie, "Fresh," which touts the value of locally-grown organic food.
Hazin is a customer of Bare Foot Organics' community-supported agriculture — CSA — service, which delivers weekly boxes of produce directly from the farm to customers in the city.
The farm stand fits in with Hazin's plan to promote healthy lifestyles among his neighbors. He's also hired a trainer to run a fitness boot camp for Avery residents in Riverside Park South, and brought yoga and pilates classes to his building.
Hazin called bringing farm fresh produce to his block "a no-brainer."
"It gives people another alternative," Hazin said. "This is an opportunity to buy fresh from the farm without having to go too far. You feel better when you eat it."