Greenmarket Farmer Profile:
Joe Morgeiwicz, Morgeiwicz Produce
Joe Morgeiwicz is a fourth generation “Black Dirt” farmer – so named for the soft, rich soil resulting from an ancient glacial lake in Orange County, NY. Joe joined Greenmarket in 1999, taking the family’s wholesale business in a new direct-to-consumer direction to increase their income. Back then, they farmed about 100 acres, 65 of which the family owned. Today he owns 95 acres, and rents 160 more, which he keeps in diversified vegetables. Prior to joining Greenmarket, the family farm grew just onions and squash in bulk, but with stands at multiple markets, demand from customers has encouraged him to incorporate cilantro, kale, parsley, collards, radishes and more into his crop plans.
Joe makes it a priority to be his own salesperson at market. “I see it as PR,” he says. “I’m always trying to figure out things we can do differently to increase business, keep customers interested, keep them coming back. If I’m missing, people notice that I’m not there—we’ve developed a rapport.” Interacting with customers face to face helps him be a better grower. He can try out new products, and see how they respond, or hear requests for products from his customers and work them into his fields. Take kale: he used to only grow it in the fall, but it’s become such a popular item, he now sells the leafy green year-round. Other in-demand items include broccoli rabe, bok choy and tatsoi.
In 2005, when Greenmarket became outfitted with the technology to swipe EBT cards, he noticed that many of the regular customers who had been shopping with him for years were able to buy their groceries with EBT tokens—and they bought more. Joe realized that providing access to fresh food was not only the right thing to do, it was also good business. Joe is an active member of the Greenmarket community of farmers, serving as chair of its Farmer and Community Advisory Committee. In this role, he ensures that Greenmarket’s producer-only standards are upheld, and that GrowNYC continues to stay true to its commitment to providing all New Yorkers with access to fresh food, while keeping farmland in production.