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MCS Farm Festival Sets New Precedent for Zero Waste and Food Accessibility Street for Fairs in New York

MCS Farm Festival Sets New Precedent for Zero Waste and Food Accessibility Street for Fairs in New York

Friday, October 26, 2018

October 26, 2018

Contact: Jewel Brooks
Communications Coordinator


MCS Farm Festival Sets New Precedent for “Zero Waste” and Food Accessibility Street for Fairs in New York
Determined school uses annual MCS Farm Festival event as opportunity to reduce, reuse, and recycle for a cause.

Manhattan Country School (MCS) has succeeded in their first attempt to redesign their fall fundraiser, the MCS Farm Festival, into a “Zero Waste” street fair. The annual Farm Festival benefits the school’s sliding scale-tuition program, which enables all MCS families to educate their children as equal members of an economically, racially and culturally diverse community. Amid city-wide recycling initiatives and the recent United Nations report of rapid climate change globally, the all parent-volunteer planning committee of the 2018 Farm Festival took a stand.

“The ‘Zero Waste’ program is a key component of ‘One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City’ also known as OneNYC.  Mayor de Blasio's ambitious commitment to achieving ‘Zero Waste’ in New York City by 2030 puts the city on a path toward long-term waste reduction and heightened sustainability.” One NYC and “Zero Waste” are led by the Department of Sanitation and the Mayor's Office of Sustainability.

Manhattan Country School’s version of the “Zero Waste” campaign is a public demonstration of accessible, sustainable recycling practices intended to create as little waste and landfill deposit as possible at 150 West 85th Street . The resourcefulness of the MCS Farm Festival “Zero-Waste” and non-disposables policy distinguishes the event from any other street fair in New York City. The steps toward neighborhood refuse reduction included a 5-point strategic plan:

  • FREE OF DISPOSABLE DISHWARE All food items were served on “real” plates and cutlery. Dishes were bussed, washed and sterilized for use during the event in the MCS kitchen, just like a restaurant or café.
  • RECYCLE STATIONS Everything that could have been be composted or recycled was. Instead of the garbage-only bins, parent-volunteers supervised the sorting of all disposables. Each station was equipped with five bins to separate all rubbish: Compost, Metal, Plastics, Paper and Landfill.
  • REPURPOSED PRIZES Instead of purchasing new plastics, the prizes offered were gently used small toys and games, donated from the MCS community.
  • PAPER AND PLASTIC BAG REUSE All purchases at the MCS Farm Festival including the popular farm-to-table Market Place, were bagged in reusable paper or plastic shopping bags - all of which were provided by the MCS community and local grocery retailer, Whole Foods Market.
  • WATER STATIONS INSTEAD OF PLASTIC, SINGLE USE WATER BOTTLES Farm Festival featured two free water stations where attendees could refill their own bottles. An assortment of sterilized, reusable cups, mugs and canteens were also on hand to help the landfill prevention effort. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection donated several boxes of bright blue, refillable water pouches as well.

Manhattan Country School’s Farm Festival was supported by magnanimous food and beverage donations from restaurants and suppliers throughout the Upper West Side, Harlem and Northern Manhattan. The charitable partnerships allow iconic New York fare to be resold at below market value prices, creating food accessibility for all patrons of the festival. Proceeds directly fund the school’s sliding-scale tuition program.

Sponsors of the 2018 Farm Festival include contributed resources from Greenmarket Co., a program of GrowNYC – the sustainability resource for New Yorkers.

By 6:00 p.m. the 2018 Manhattan Country School Farm Festival was over and diverted an estimated 500 pounds of food scraps and compostable material from the city’s landfills. This large-scale effort to eliminate disposables resulted in only 8 bags of non-degradable landfill trash for a 5-hour event that hosted over 1,000 individuals. 500-600 attendees visited the grill. By using 800 non-disposables dishes, Farm Festival ultimately eliminated 1,300 plates, 1,000 forks, and 1,000 hot beverage cups from the waste stream.

The MCS Farm Festival is held annually on the third Saturday of October, rain or shine. For more information about Manhattan Country School please visit:

About MCS
Manhattan Country School (MCS) has been committed to teaching its diverse student body stewardship since its founding in 1965. The school implements a farm-to-table food program as a vital part of its curriculum. MCS owns a working farm in the Catskills where students learn to live sustainably and interdependently. Inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ideals of equality, nonviolence and justice, MCS has held activism as a core component of its curriculum since it opened. Students learn to understand multiple viewpoints while defending their own opinions and to value human rights and environmental justice. Annual activism projects designed and carried out by students raise awareness about issues that impact not only MCS, but communities across the city and the nation.