181 1/2 Main Street in Cortland, the building that houses Main Street Farms’ veggies, is about to get a face lift. Beginning this week Nico Cathcart, a SUNY Cortland graduate, will spend four weeks transforming the old facade into a work of art that highlights Cortland’s agricultural history.
Cathcart attended Homer Central High School before receiving her bachelor’s of fine arts degree from SUNY Cortland. She moved to Richmond, Virginia, in 2009 and has lived there since. She has been a professional mural and sign painter for about 10 years but this will be her first project in Cortland.
“It’s wonderful to be asked to paint in the town where I received my BFA, and next to where I graduated high school,” said Cathcart. “This is my first in the “hometown” and I’ve been overwhelmed by the positivity that Cortland and Homer have shown me.”
Last week Cathcart arrived to town and got right to work. She photographed a still life scene of flowers, veggies, a hemp plant and pickles that she will digitally add a bird and butterfly to. The design is meant to celebrate Cortland’s agricultural history and future. This week she will begin transferring the design to the wall.
In May a handful of community members donated their time and materials to repair, clean and prime the large facade so that it’s ready for Cathcart’s artist expression.
The farm and the building’s three other tenants; Head and Heal, Food and Ferments and Catalpa Flower Farm, collaboratively worked to fundraise $10,000 for the mural project. CSA Manager of Main Street Farms Karli Miller-Hornick said the art is meant to spark joy in all that drive by.
“Nico will be here for the next month and we are so excited to have the community stop by and check out her progress,” said Miller-Hornick. “We want this beauty to be for all of Cortland.”
While the outside of the building comes to life, things are going to be humming on the inside, too. Main Street Farms is gearing up to start a new partnership with Seven Valleys Health Coalition (SVHC.)
SVHC is a non-for-profit corporation that works to strengthen food systems resilience and food security in the Cortland community. They recently received $185,000 in grants to fund a variety of services including helping people get, cook and eat fresh produce.
The coalition’s new Fruit and Vegetable Prescription, or FVRx, will provide 61 free, fresh produce for 22 weeks to local, low income residents who meet all the criteria. All the veggies will come from Main Street Farms and participant’s will have the option for home delivery.
FVRx participants will also have access to cooking classes and nutrition counseling with a registered dietician. Participants have the option to attend chronic disease prevention and self-management classes to help lead to lifestyle change. Spots are still open to join the program.
“We feel a responsibility to give back to the community of Cortland whenever we can,” said Miller-Hornick. “We love running our businesses here and want to see the city thrive.”
In another collaborative effort, the four businesses are banding together this Thursday, July 10th, to host a Main Street trash pickup day. Members of the community are encouraged to join the cleanup beginning at 2pm. Volunteers will meet at the packshed building at 181 1/2 Main St. and will be supplied trash bags.
Main Street Farms has one of the largest organic veggie CSAs in New York state, which starts the week of June 17th. Their CSA, or community supported agriculture, is open to the greater community and has pickup locations in Ithaca, Syracuse and Cortland. To learn more and join, visit mainstreetfarms.com