Meet the Central Park West CSA Core Team

Dear CPW CSA Members,

The Core Team hopes you’ve enjoyed your first pick up on Tuesday. Every week, we receive different produce and we don’t usually know what it’s going to be until the day that it arrives. It has to do with what the farmers planted and what’s ready to be picked on the day before or the morning of the delivery. What we do know is that it’s going to be very fresh, local, and pesticide free.

When I posted a message to our website a few weeks ago, I introduced myself and said you’d hear about the other members of the Core Team soon.

Here is a bit of info about the other 4 members of the team:

Mark Lee, our Webmaster, is a technology and operations administrator for the City of New York. He has lived in the Upper West Side since 2013 with his wife Andrea and dog Harper. In his spare time, Mark enjoys music, travel, photography, and web design.

Jess Bridgman, joined our CSA in 2016 and has been our Membership Coordinator since last season. Originally from London, she lives on the Upper West Side and works for a city business group. She signed up to the CSA as a way to support local farmers, eat more vegetables, and cook with new and exciting ingredients.

Abe Givner, our Treasurer, lives on the Upper West Side with his wife and Java and Stella, their cats. Their kids and grandkids are scattered coast to coast and across “the pond.” Abe is a Professor of Psychology at Yeshiva University. This is his third years as member of the CPWCSA.

Alissa Auerbach, our new Volunteer Coordinator, lived in Vermont for 7 years before returning to NYC about two years ago. It was in Vermont that she first became aware of supporting local farms by becoming a member of a CSA, and she was thrilled to join our CSA last year. Alissa is the Development Director at Vermont College of Fine Arts and enjoys spending time in Central Park, independent bookstores, and seeing all the Broadway shows.

Let us know if you’d like to get more involved in running our CSA. We can always use help. Some of the things we are hoping to have help with are 2 or 3 members to plan a visit to the farm, posting recipes on our website, and working side by side with one of us as a way of learning about a role that you may be interested in having down the road when the need arises. For example, we have recently learned that Abe will be stepping down as our Treasurer at the end of this season, and we hope to train his replacement during this season.

Please let me know if you will like to find out more about any of these ways of getting more involved.

Susan Spieler, CPWCSA Coordinator


I’m writing in behalf of the Core Team of the Central Park West CSA. We’re looking forward to another season of our CSA and to seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Angel Farm continues to be the farm that we received produce from. Since our CSA began 8 years ago, the produce we have received has been fresh, varied and plentiful. We like supporting this lovely family farm in the Black Dirt Region of Orange County. We appreciate the support of Book Culture, which is where we distribute our produce. And, we value the work of West Side Campaign Against Hunger, which is the organization that receives our surplus food and distributes it to people who can make good use of it. And we are a member of the Just Food Network.

We maintain warm relationships with the above 4 organizations and with Angel Family Farm!!!

Our core team currently consists of me, Mark, Abe, Jess, and Alissa. We welcome Alissa to the core team. She is replacing Jill who did a great job as our Volunteer Coordinator last season.

If our website doesn’t answer your questions, send us an email and please understand that we all have full time jobs doing other things. I’m a Clinical Psychologist in private practice on the UWS, have been a member of our CSA for 8 years and am very engaged in environmental/climate change issues. In the coming weeks, you will find out more about the other members of the Core Team.

For those who have not belonged to a CSA before, you will find that CSAs depend on all members to help run the CSA. It’s quite different from shopping in a supermarket or Farmers Market. When I first joined our CSA, I learned that it takes time to get used to some of the differences.

We are looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday, June 5. Be sure to sign up before then so you can receive all 22 weeks of fresh, local produce.

Susan, CSA Coordinator
Mark, CSA Webmaster
Abe, CSA Treasurer
Jess, CSA Membership Coordinator
Alissa, CSA Volunteer Coordinator

Why I support local farmers that I know. Our CSA is lucky to not be dependent on food grown in toxic soil.

Have you wondered why we’re still getting nice looking produce from California despite the drought and wildfires? How do farmers there manage to irrigate their fields and grow produce under such conditions?

Apparently, some are desperate enough to buy toxic wastewater from oil and gas companies and use it to irrigate their fields. For more on this, see links below.

Should we care about this? What does it have to do with supporting local farmers, especially those that we know?

I choose to support local farmers whom I know. I would like to know that the food I eat isn’t grown in fields that are irrigated with toxic waste water that was sold to farmers by oil and gas companies. I feel safer knowing that I can ask my local farmer whether the seeds they plant are free of GMOs and whether the water they use to irrigate their fields is clean.

I cannot imagine that irrigating farmland with toxic waste water is safe when the water content of fruits and vegetables are so high. I feel fortunate to not have to depend on this and feel terrible for farmers in California have such difficult choices to make.

But, when we buy produce that comes from far away places, we don’t know much about the farm practices. That’s why I’ve stopped buying perfect looking produce from Whole Foods. Just because it looks good doesn’t assure me that it is good for me. And I’ve been learning that the “organic” label doesn’t assure us that the water used to irrigate the farmland is necessary clean.

If you’d like to learn more, I’ve included some articles about how some of the farmers on the West Coast have managed to grow produce under these harsh conditions:

Someone I know who works at Food and Water Watch told me that off the record that: “even some organic farms are using the fracking wastewater to irrigate crops”.

Here is FWW’s fact sheet on it:

Susan Spieler, Coordinator

The Central Park West CSA — 2016

Our CSA has existed for 7 years.  I joined it when it was first founded. After the founder moved to Brooklyn a year later, I became one of 7 people he invited to take it over.  I didn’t know the other people and we didn’t know much about CSAs but, the 7 of us decided to give it a try.  As of now, the other 6 have moved out of the neighborhood and I remain one of the original group that took it over.  Over these years, others have joined the Core Team and, like me, learned “on the job”.  We don’t get paid but we each have our reasons for doing this.  Mine are a combination of appreciating the Angel Family and their hard, joyful and dedicated work and their generosity, believing that, if I don’t support local farmers like them, they may wind up selling their land to developers or industrial farmers, valuing the idea of knowing who is growing my food and being able to have direct contact with them, loving receiving such fresh, local, pesticide-free produce and wanting to do my part to preserve some wholesome, natural space close to our great city.  

In my professional life, I am a Clinical Psychologist in private practice and I train mental health professionals. And I am very engaged in issues related to climate change.  All of this, along with my personal life keep me more than busy so I ask myself each year why I’m continuing to work so hard to keep our CSA going. 

We have just relocated to Book Culture after 6+ years at the Church of St. Timothy and St. Matthew. And we have just started a relationship with West Side Campaign Against Hunger as the organization that receives our surplus produce.  Making changes like these requires a lot of work but we think these changes will make things better for our CSA.

I hope you have enjoyed your first distribution of produce and are finding ways to use it before it’s no longer fresh.  If you’re new to this, my tip is to use the more perishable vegetables first and, if you find that you have too much left over by Monday, cook the rest of it into a stew and freeze some.  When you defrost it,  you can add other ingredients and eat it or you can add water and make soup.  And perhaps you know someone who would appreciate having some fresh produce.

Keep in mind that the produce varies from week to week and it won’t always be lots of leafy greens.  

The Core Team can always use extra help so, if you’d like to get more involved, please send me an email and let me know how and when to reach you.   

I’m glad you’ve given it a try or have renewed from previous years.

Susan Spieler, Coordinator
Central Park West CSA

2016 Sign-Up Deadline Extended to June 1

Because there are so many people signing up at the last minute, we have decided to extend the deadline to Wednesday, June 1st. You can pay by PayPal or check. Checks must be postmarked by June 1st.

Remember, our season will begin on Tuesday, June 7th, and pick up will be on Tuesdays this year from 4-7 pm.

We are very happy that we will be distributing our delicious, fresh, pesticide-free veggies in front of Book Culture, 450 Columbus Ave, between 81st and 82d Streets.

And please remember that we are an all-volunteer organization. It is a requirement that all members volunteer. We will soon have our volunteer sign up sheet and the job descriptions posted.

Celebrating June 7 start, local relationships, fresh produce, UWS charm. Sign up now!

The core team of the Central Park West CSA is excited to see our efforts since the end of our last season coming to fruition. Our season will begin on Tuesday June 7. We look forward to seeing you and sharing in the plentiful fresh locally grown produce we have been enjoying for more than 6 years.

We decided to look for a new distribution site for this season and, though it wasn’t easy, we accomplished this. This season we will be distributing the very fresh, pesticide free, local produce that we have been receiving for more than 6 years from Angel Family Farm in front of Book Culture on Columbus between W. 81st and W. 82nd Streets. We are grateful to Mother Carla Roland and her wonderful staff at the Church of St. Matthew and St. Timothy on W. 84th St. for their support since our CSA began. When they renovated their space, we lost some necessary storage space and had to venture out to find another location.

Our new location promises to be the start of a great partnership between 2 small local organizations that benefit the Upper West Side. Many of us are tired of big box stores and banks everywhere replacing the charming shops that used to thrive in our neighborhood and give it its unique character. We are confident that the Central Park West CSA will bring more much deserved attention to Book Culture while the team at Book Culture generously shares their lovely space with our CSA.

There are only 4 weeks before our season begins and, in order to become a member, you need to sign up by May 23. That’s only 2 weeks from now!

As many of you know, our CSA is run totally by volunteers, so volunteering is a requirement of membership. You will soon receive a link to a volunteer sign up sheet and we’ll need you to put your name into the boxes of dates and times when you are able to serve as volunteers.

For now, we’re just celebrating getting to this point and reminding those of you who tend to wait until the last minute that the last minute is about to arrive.

Susan S. in behalf of the Core Team of the CPW CSA
(Alix K., Susan Z. and Gela K.)