Local Look

Outstanding In His Field

“I can’t talk long, I’ve got about 4000 sweet potato plants I’ve got to put in this week. Every minute I’m not doing that, I’m behind.”

So says Doug Decandia, who is trying to stay on schedule in his mission to grow food for the Food Bank for Westchester, which fights hunger and food insecurity in our county by maintaining a storehouse of food it distributes to over 200 local relief programs.

Doug helped form the Food Bank’s Food Growing Program, and he is personally cultivating about 3 acres of land on five separate plots in Westchester. The produce from those 3 acres will go right to the Food Bank’s storehouses.

Doug has been featured in magazines, newspapers, and online journals, and they have been able to spotlight how broad the impact of Doug’s work really is. Here’s an excerpt from Chris Hunt’s 2012 profile on the website Ecocentric:

“The job involves farming, of course, but it also entails serving as a teacher and mentor because in addition to producing vegetables, the initiative is designed as a vocational program to train at-risk youths to grow food. Doug works the land alongside children who face a range of emotional and behavioral challenges, some of whom are currently incarcerated in the county’s juvenile correctional facility. Together, they grow fresh, healthful food for those who need it the most.”

2013 marks the third year of Doug’s ambitious project, and he has no intention of stopping. In fact, his ambitions for farming Westchester go far beyond the Food Bank, He’d like to see the whole county farming, for private and public resources.

As he told KatonahGreen’s Heather Flournoy when she profiled Doug last year: “"You know, there's no reason we can't produce a lot more of our food right around here. Those big lawns could all be turned into productive farms."

Don’t be surprised if this local food hero shows up at your door someday, offering to farm your lawn. Bravo, Doug!

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Mimi Edelman: Farmer