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Union Square Farmers Market New York

May 31, 2012

Last week in New York was a lot of fun for many reason but one morning I took a private tour. You can read about that on my Custom Trip Planning blog.  The guide, Laurence Waltman, knew I have been writing this blog so he made sure we ended the tour at the Union Square Market, where he bought some strawberries and then bid me adieu. I wandered for another hour, admiring the yummies, speaking to a lot of the farmers, and basically cursing that I would not be home for 3 more days so could not bring any with me.

I was surprised to see the great number of potted plants for sale. People must be growing veggies on their windowsills and fire escapes!

The market is one of 53 adminstered by GrowNYC scattered throughout the five boroughs. Greenmarket is a producer-only market with rigorous “grow-your-own” standards. Why is that important? Because selling directly to customers means farmers, fishers and their children can keep doing what they love and help feed growing cities. It also means city residents who care to, get to know who grows their food.

Greenmarket’s farmers and fishers come from a broad section of the Northeast, including parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and New England, providing New Yorkers with a bountiful and astoundingly diverse array of fresh foods.

I spoke to a farmer who had brought produce from the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area about why he had traveled that distance. While just within the required 150 mile limit imposed by Greenmarket, he maintained a regular booth at the Union Square market because the competition in Lancaster was so high and the income he can generate in New York offsets the additional drive and expense.

I also spoke to another farmer about his participation. He drives in twice a week from Hamden, Connecticut. Only 80 miles to the northeast, between New Haven and Hartford, he felt that the Union Square market offers him income he can not replicate in Connecticut, even in markets in Fairfield County.  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~Having lived in the Hartford area for years I asked specifically about that farmers market and heard about the political difficulty of a new farm entering that system.  I have heard a similar tale here in West Virginia for longer established markets and to me, if there are beginning to be more consumers, it seems that offering easier opportunities for more local farms to participate in the most local market would be the way to go.v

The Union Square market had 70 booths the Wednesday I visited with offerings of cheese, flowers, eggs, produce, meats (beef, chicken, duck, pork, fish), pasta, baked goods, honey, wine, jams and other preserves,  honey, and other value added products. I bought one of four flavored farm-made potato chip offerings from a booth that also sold raw fingerlings. The market had a cooking demonstration booth, one for EBT paperwork processing, another to drop off compost, a booth to drop off textiles for recycling, one with all kinds of educational pamplets, and one for a drop in “guest” farm to try out before joining.

~~~~~~~~~~~~The market was crowded. I was there around noon. One of the farmers shared with me while it was a good turnout (and it was drizzling then), the Saturday market was very heavily attended all day. He very much felt it was worth his time to drive in, pay for gas and tolls and spend all day there twice a week.

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