On a recent morning, Jacob Eisman, an organic farmer, drove five hours from his Six Circles Farm in Ithaca, N.Y., with a truckload of produce and two of his most trustworthy farmhands. Their destination was Occupy Wall Street’s newest off-site kitchen facility near downtown Brooklyn.
"We need to start thinking about small farms producing more of our food locally and buying locally," Eisman said.
The kitchen here in Brooklyn is one of two in the borough that have been providing hot meals for the 2,000 protesters estimated to be moving through the park during the protest.
As Eisman and his farmhands unloaded their harvest, Benedict Coulette, a member of the food working group at OWS, spoke with recent high school graduates from a Farm to Table job training program sponsored by the nonprofit group Dekalb Market. "When we started out we were serving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and then we moved on to cooking in people's apartments," he told the teenagers.
Terry Hedgepeth, 19, listened on as he peeled garlic for the 6 p.m. dinner service. "I commend them for fighting for what they believe in. I haven't really been a part of this OWS thing, but I guess when you want something you just got to get it," he said.
Erin Littlestar was chopping kale at the opposite end of a long wooden table. She is equally enthusiastic about the current food supply system at OWS. "It is nothing short of a miracle that this space even exists and that this food is getting here, and that these meals are getting out to people, and they’re healthy and they taste good and they’re coming from small farmers. I mean restaurants work for years to make that happen," she explained to the students.
Littlestar describes herself as coming from a family in which her parents "are part of the 1 percent," and put her culinary career path on hold to join the OWS kitchen. In fact, she was scheduled to attend the National Gourmet Institute, but never showed up for her first day of classes after experiencing a day of protest in Zucotti Park.
"I moved here from DC to go to culinary school. On the day I was supposed to start, I told them I wasn’t coming and I came here instead. I just got this feeling like there was something bigger I was supposed to be doing than just going to school to learn chiffonade."
Watch the video below to get an inside look at the operations of the OWS kitchen.