New York City icons: Empire State Building, Central Park, Union Square Greenmarket. Our flagship Greenmarket is a vital amenity for locals and a tourist destination and National Geographic top-rated farmers market in the U.S. 53 Additional Greenmarkets in diverse communities of NYC host 230 family farms selling directly to customers on a weekly basis, year-round. As the program has grown, we have stayed true to our mission of preserving farmland, while ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to fresh, healthy food grown right here in our region. Our farmers are keeping over 30,000 acres of farmland in production and safe from development. Another central component of Greenmarket’s mission and operations is product integrity: everything sold at market is 100% farmer grown, produced, caught, or foraged.
Food For All
GrowNYC has always believed that eating high quality fresh fruits and vegetables is a basic right and that demand for healthy choices exists throughout our city. By pairing education and opportunity, and with the help of many dedicated partners, you can create demand. We know that if you provide access and affordability, you can fill that demand.
In its 36th season of connecting regional farmers with the New York City community, Greenmarket was proud to open four new market sites in the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn. In collaboration with the Manhattan Borough President and the Frederick Douglas Boulevard Alliance, we held a popular pop-up Greenmarket in Harlem, the city’s first nighttime farmers’ market, so that residents could shop on their way home from work.
In recent years, Greenmarket has grown beyond the farmers’ market model. We are creating new programs to respond to emerging needs. Our 11 Youthmarket farm stands ensure that neighborhoods lacking access to fresh produce are served. We’ve expanded our EBT program so that Food Stamp recipients can use their benefits to shop at almost all of our markets. And we’ve begun accepting food scraps for compost at a number of Greenmarkets, filling a demand from New Yorkers seeking to live more sustainably. Most importantly, we launched Greenmarket Co., the City’s first regional wholesale food distributor, that brings farm-fresh regional products to restaurants, bodegas, grocery stores, and GrowNYC’s own programs throughout the city.
With demand for fresh, local food at the forefront in New York City, our farmers are building greenhouses, high tunnels, and finding additional land to maximize their capacity. This means more food for sale, and more variety than ever in the market, with new products ranging from hard cider to Finnish rye bread.
What makes a Greenmarket Green?
Our markets are neighborhood sustainability centers, where residents can buy local food, recycle textiles and batteries, and drop off food scraps to be composted. Engaging customers on their weekly visits offers an opportunity to further educate about leading an even more sustainable life here in New York City.
This year, our public education initiatives included environmentally themed pop-up classes taught at the Union Square Greenmarket by faculty from the New School, partnering with the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability to launch a campaign to curb the use of plastic bags. And, thanks to a grant from the Ball Canning Company, we deployed chef Robin Puskas to markets all over the city, where she led cooking demonstrations on how to safely and properly preserve the local bounty of fruits and vegetables by jamming, pickling, and canning them. NYC Department of Health’s Stellar Markets and Cornell Cooperative Extension continue to lead nutrition classes and offer free cooking demonstrations at our markets, and we have partnered with the New York City Food Book Fair to curate a series of at-market cookbook signings with visiting authors.
Outside of the market, this fall, our panel discussion series The Educated Eater called together experts to inform on food labels and growing practices, the resurgence of growing rye in our region, and wholesale distribution of local food— highlighting both the challenges and solutions to this complex problem.
Greenmarket: Fun Facts & Why It Matters
- Preserving Farmland. Greenmarket keeps local family farms in business.
Over the past 50 years, close to a million acres of local farmland have been
buried under cement and asphalt. The Hudson Valley is among the most
threatened farm regions in the country. Together the farms that attend
Greenmarket preserve over 30,000 acres of regional open space.
- Strengthening Rural Economies. 80% of Greenmarket farmers report they
would be out of business if it weren’t for Greenmarket.
- Food Security. Nearby farms ensure food access in times of blackouts, fuel
shortage, or other crises. Greenmarket works with city agencies to bring healthy
eating to neighborhoods that lack fresh foods. Greenmarket participates in the
NYS Farmers Market Nutrition Program, providing food to families at nutritional
risk. In 2005, almost 250,000 such households redeemed vouchers worth $3 million
for locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables at NYC farmers markets. Many markets
have the technology to accept EBT food stamps and we are working hard to expand
that access. Unsold produce feeds the hungry. In 2005, Greenmarket donated over
300,000 pounds of food to City Harvest.
- Improving Neighborhood Economies. Greenmarket brings money to neighborhood
businesses. In peak season, the Union Square Greenmarket draws 60,000 shoppers
a day; in a recent survey, 82% cited Greenmarket as the primary reason for their visit,
and 60% spent up to $50 in area businesses.