We hadn’t planned on discovering this little gem of a market – we really lucked out – but so glad that we did, as we were blown away from the true richness of produce and passion found along the side of Union Square Park this morning.
Union Square Market, the original market formed by Greenmarket, part of the GrowNYC initiative, has been going since 1974. Speaking with one of the representatives from GreenMarket, many of the original market holders of the 70’s still remain today; a justification that Farmers Markets do actually work – linking produce and producers directly to their customers, and introducing themselves to new ones.
Not only does GrowNYC facilitate farmers markets at 50 destinations throughout New York, they have many other branches which attend to the hunger and education of food in the metropolis:
- Wholesale Greenmarket links farmers to wholesale outlets such as stores and restaurants
- The New Farmer Development Project acknowledges and supports new immigrants that have skills in agriculture to set up new farms in the local region
- Youth Market is a network of 8 urban farm stands and encourages teens to work within their community whilst learning skills to feed the entrepreneurial seeds within them.
- Office of Recycling Outreach and Education Liase with councils, landlords and businesses to reduce their waste through education
- Training Student Organisers provides academic facilities to train the ambassadors of the future.
All these activities are looking at ways to engage the city in good eating. And this is great, don’t get me wrong, but unless the city itself engages with this then it could be all be in vain. No farmers’ market in London has the same level of scale and attention to detail as seen today on a Wednesday morning. We do have Borough Market, amongst others, but they are quite different. Farmers Markets provide one thing that others do not – direct communication from grower/maker to customer. No need to invest in marketing to see if you have a winning idea: ask the customer directly, human-to-human.
And while I’m at it, the variety of produce was mind boggling. One store sold six different types of carrots – all different colours. Never again will I think of rabbit fodder in the same light! Carrots purple, yellow and white, I salute you. One local chef was preparing a chilled corn soup with Jalapeno, Basil & Market Veg Succotash. What is Succotash, you ask? A stew of corn with a shelling bean – mostly Lima beans. I didn’t know either, but was very happy to find out. Recipe on the next post.
This sets the tone for the months ahead – America, the great provider. Will this food in all its glory, shapes and flavours be found along your central heartline?