Governor Cuomo Announces New Greenmarket Regional Food Hub

August 12, 2016
Posted in Greenmarket

This week, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced New York State's investment of $15 million in the construction of a new Greenmarket Regional Food Hub in the Bronx.  

The hub, which will be used by GrowNYC's Greenmarket Co. program, will be a state-of-the-art 120,000 square foot facility that will greatly increase New Yorkers' access to the freshest, most nutritious locally grown food the region has to offer.

From the press release:

The Greenmarket Regional Food Hub will be located in the Hunts Point neighborhood in the Bronx and will include a wholesale farmers’ market, a cold storage facility for farmers, a food-processing center and other infrastructure to support local food businesses. The new food hub will work with a range of small- and mid-sized farms, providing unprecedented access to New York City’s wholesale marketplace. The processing facility will also assist Upstate producers and processors in targeting institutional and private sector procurement opportunities. In addition, the food hub will facilitate the expansion of farmers’ markets and youth markets in underserved communities.

Volunteer Profile: Jonathan Kong

July 27, 2016
Posted in Community Gardens

Volunteers are a major source of strength for nonprofits and GrowNYC is fortunate to have the time, effort and talents of so many dedicated New Yorkers. Whether they are corporate groups giving back to the community by helping with a garden build for a neighborhood or school or a single individual who feels passionate about what GrowNYC does, we are extremely grateful.  Want to volunteer with GrowNYC?

Jonathan Kong started volunteering with GrowNYC in 2014, quickly establishing himself as a tireless worker and enthusiastic supporter of all things GrowNYC.  But in 2016, Jonathan has taken things to a new level: Creating and undertaking The Greenmarket Challenge: a quest to volunteer at all 54 Greenmarket farmers markets in 1 year.  

We spoke with Jonathan what inspires him, which Greenmarket is his favorite, and much more:
 

How long have you been volunteering with GrowNYC?

This is my third year.

What is it about GrowNYC that inspires you to work with us?

I really like the environment, working outdoors, getting to interact with the public, doing hands-on activities such as the cooking demos, and learning something new about myself everyday.

Favorite activity when volunteering?

Cooking demos are always fun to do because I get to see the actual ingredients I'm using and use them with the recipe. Outreach is great since I get to see the diversity of people who live in different neighborhoods.

How many different Greenmarket locations have you volunteered at?

So far about 30, but I plan to volunteer at all of them by the end of this year.

Do you have a favorite Greenmarket?

I like Union Square a lot because there's a lot of different activities going on down there and it's really easy to get to. I also have favorite markets for each region: Forest Hills for Queens, Columbia for Upper Manhattan, Tompkins for Lower Manhattan, Fort Greene for Brooklyn, and Parkchester for Bronx.

Favorite fruit and/or vegetable?

I tend to go for tropical fruits like mangos, pineapples and coconuts, but they don't sell them at the markets.

What would you tell someone who was considering volunteering with GrowNYC?

Volunteering with GrowNYC will help you improve your social skills, build confidence in yourself, and feel comfortable working with other people.                                                                                                                         

GrowNYC Launches Oh SNAP! Campaign

July 15, 2016

 

On Monday, July 11, we launched the “Oh SNAP!” (#ohsnapnyc) educational campaign with a live mural painting on one of our Greenmarket, Co. deilvery trucks by artist, Queen Andrea, at the Union Square Greenmarket. The “Oh SNAP!” campaign was designed to draw attention to the fact that GrowNYC’s network of Greenmarket farmers’ markets accepts electronic benefits cards (EBT) and shoppers can use their SNAP benefits at these markets to purchase farm-fresh produce from the region’s mid-sized family farmers.

Greenmarket pioneered the acceptance of EBT cards at farmers markets in 2005 and became the model for farmers’ markets across the country. Every Greenmarket accepts EBT and last year almost $1 million in SNAP benefits were processed. While SNAP sales at Greenmarket are impressive, they represent only a tiny fraction of the $3 billion dollars spent in SNAP benefits in New York City each year. GrowNYC wants all New Yorkers to know they can use their SNAP benefits at their neighborhood farmers market to purchase fresh and healthy local produce to feed their families and the “Oh SNAP!’ campaign will help get the word out in a fun and engaging way. As an added bonus, the NYC Department of Health's Health Bucks are available year-round for the first time giving families shopping with SNAP an extra $2 to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables for every $5 they spend.  

The “Oh SNAP!” campaign was conceived pro bono by global marketing firm Edelman, designed by artist Queen Andrea and is based on the colorful and lively street art characteristic of New York City. The campaign engages viewers while promoting a positive message of healthy eating with SNAP benefits. The artwork can be found all over the city: on subways, buses, in local newspapers and on public painted murals by local artists throughout the five boroughs. The campaign was made possible through a grant from the USDA Food & Nutrition Service. Check out more pictures of the live mural painting here

 

4 New Gardens Bloom in NYC

July 5, 2016
Posted in Community Gardens

GrowNYC's garden program has had a busy first half of 2016! 

Among other things, we've built four new community gardens, totaling 40,000 square feet of new open space.  Here's the skinny:

 

Windmill Community Garden

Windmill Community Garden
A vacant lot in Long Island City - who would have thought? We worked with a great neighborhood association and adjacent school on building out this 2,500 square foot space with raised beds, a shed, and, you guessed it, a windmill!  Lots more to come from this space in the 2nd half of 2016.
 

 

400 Montauk Avenue Community Garden

400 Montauk Community Garden
An existing garden in East New York, Brooklyn that had been extinct for several years, we started the year with a rubble-filled lot and, a few weeks later, had a total renewal - 20 new raised beds, picnic tables and garden benches, and more!  

 

Warwick Street Community Garden

Warwick Street Community Garden
Another extinct community garden in East New York that we worked with a host of community partners on identifying, organizing, designing, and building a new garden on a completely vacant space.  Now features raised beds, picnic tables, a shed, and, most importantly, plants! More info

 

United We Stand Community Garden

United We Stand Community Garden
4 contiguous community gardens flourished for 30 years until they were decimated by fire in the Winter of 2014.  Flash forward to this February, and we'd worked with the garden groups and the Parks Department to tear all the internal garden fences down, clear the entire site, and start working on a design for 1 large united community garden that spans an entire block between 137th and 138th Streets in the South Bronx.  

Halfway through 2016, we've built 50 raised beds, a dozen picnic tables, a new shed, and a pathway linking the two streets.  We can't wait to put the finishing touches on the garden this summer!  

Greenmarket 40 for 40

April 26, 2016


A note from GrowNYC Executive Director, Marcel Van Ooyen:

Forty years ago this July, Greenmarket founders Barry Benepe and Bob Lewis organized a small group of farmers to truck their fresh produce into the city and set up shop in an empty parking lot across from the Queensboro Bridge. It was an experiment of sorts; to see if New Yorkers, dwellers of the concrete jungle, would respond positively to buying farm fresh produce from the region in an outdoor market space. When the farmers’ tables were empty within a few hours, it was clear that they had struck a chord with residents.

Since 1976, GrowNYC’s Greenmarket program has transformed city streets into bustling marketplaces where shoppers are able to connect with the land, agriculture, the city and their neighbors in a way that is impossible elsewhere in today’s world of big box stores and food delivery services. The community that is created when a group of farmers pop up tents and fill tables with what was just harvested is one that is cherished by both farmer and shopper alike. Relationships have been built and nourished in these spaces; education beyond what you can find in any classroom has taken place in these spaces; and lives have been forever impacted in these spaces by what started as merely an experiment.

Over the course of the years, we’ve heard so many stories of the myriad ways Greenmarket has affected our farmers, shoppers, chefs, tourists, city dwellers and countless others. In celebration of our 40th season we are chronicling and sharing these stories in what we are calling the “Greenmarket 40 for 40.” These stories are not just about the incredible food you can find at the market, although there will be some of those. These are stories about lives intersecting with one another, paths changing course, communities and businesses being built, and lessons being learned all in the wake of that fateful day in 1976.

Each week, from now until the end of this year, we will be sharing one of these stories with you here on our blog and you can also find them by following GrowNYC on Medium.com. We hope these stories will make you smile, make you laugh or maybe even shed a tear. We also hope these stories will inspire you to donate $40 to GrowNYC as a part of our $40 for 40 campaign so we can continue to bring the community of Greenmarket to New Yorkers for the next 40 years. We have some special vintage themed gifts for those that do.  

8/23/16: The Beat to My Life by Nicole Tucker
8/16/16: A Market Sonnet by John Martini
8/9/16: A True Farmers' Market by Stephanie Villani
8/2/16: From Organic to Ornery, the Story of Gorzynski Ornery Farm by Gabrielle Langholtz
7/26/16: Oh SNAP!
7/19/16: Happy Birthday, Greenmarket
7/12/16: Communities Create in the Now by Demetris Giovanni Edwards
7/5/16: A Bird's Eye View of Union Square Greenmarket
6/30/16: On the Street, In the Market by Jeanne Hodesh
6/22/16: Sergio's American Dream by Gabrielle Langholtz
6/15/16: Harlem's Best Block Party by Rose Pierre-Louis
6/7/16: Rick Bishop & the Evolution of the Tri-star Strawberry
5/30/16: How Do You Pronounce M'smen? by Hot Bread Kitchen
5/24/16: Behind the Plate with Greenmarket Founder Barry Benepe and Foodstand by Summer Rayne Oakes
5/17/16: The Best City Views Are for the Bees by Gabrielle Langholtz
5/10/16: Poetry Takes Root at the Greenmarket by Stacey Harwood-Lehman
5/3/2016: A Day in the Life of a Greenmarket Manager
4/26/16: Five Lessons Learned from Shopping at the Greenmarket by Chef Peter Hoffman
4/19/16: Health & Wellness for All New Yorkers at the Greenmarket by Women on Wheels
4/12/16: The Birth of Divine Brine by Robert Schaefer 
4/5/16: Final Call for the Earl of Edgecombe: My Last Day at Silver Heights Farm by Lee Houck
3/29/16: 40 Years of Greenmarket: The Rebirth of Farmers Markets in New York City by Marcel Van Ooyen

 

Hammers are swinging at Project Farmhouse!

April 22, 2016
Construction has officially begun at GrowNYC's new center for sustainability and education in New York City's Union Square: Project Farmhouse. NYC has the International Center for Photography, a Museum of Sex, A horticultural Society, a Costume Institute but NO environmental center -- until now...
 

What's new:

Modern, farm-inspired design by ORE Technology
A custom kinetic hydroponic wall using LED light technology designed by City Hydroponics
A state-of-the-art induction kitchen by Boffi and Gaggenau featuring re-engineered lava from an active volcano in Italy used for countertops and backsplashes
farm-inspired entry archway using repurposed wood beams from Brooklyn by M Fine Lumber
Sun tunnels to pull light in to naturally light education / conference area
 

About Project Farmhouse 

We envision Project Farmhouse to be an international center for learning and exploration. Think film festivals, panel discussions, cooking classes, conferences and more. Finally, GrowNYC will have a permanent, public home from which to serve all New Yorkers. Project Farmhouse will create community for all ages around a range of free and affordable workshops, exhibits, hands-on youth education and special events. Located in Union Square, beginning in 2016, Project Farmhouse will be a place to explore environmental issues through the lens of food, horticulture, arts, recycling, cooking, and more.
 
Make a donation, learn more, get involved at www.projectfarmhouse.org

Greenmarket Turns 40: What's in store for the next 40 years?

March 28, 2016
Posted in Greenmarket

On Wednesday, March 23, Greenmarket Director Michael Hurwitz presented at a New York City Food Policy Center discussion on GrowNYC's Greenmarket program celebrating its 40th Anniversary. What began with 12 farmers July 16, 1976, in a parking lot on 59th Street has grown to over 200 farmers/producers in over 50+ Greenmarkets throughout New York City. Here is the transcript from that presentation. 

Some New Yorkers, but not most we find, know that Greenmarket is part of a larger non-profit, GrowNYC, founded 46 years ago by Mayor Lindsay and Marian Heiskell, in order to provide New Yorkers with the skills and opportunities to positively impact the environment and their communities. 

I’m very proud to be part of an organization where our recycling brethren at the Zero Waste Programs funded by NYC Department of Sanitation collected over 6 million lbs of food scraps at our markets over the last 4 years. Where the Grow to Learn program is helping to build a school garden on or near every public school in NYC, offering micro-grants and technical assistance. Where over 5,600 youth will visit the farm on Governors Island operated by our Open Space Greening program and learn about their connection to food and community. 

We do this work in partnership with hundreds of community groups, the NYC Parks Department, Department of Transportation, Department of Sanitation, City Council, Mayor's Office, the Governor's Office, Ag & Markets - the list goes on. And our programs touch millions of New Yorkers lives each year. 

Greenmarket is about to enter our 40th season, celebrating our birthday on July 16. What began with 12 farmers in a lot on 59th street and 2nd Avenue, has grown to 54 market locations throughout the 5 boroughs, over 2500 days annually, and works with 204 Producers from 250 miles to the north, 170 miles east and west, and 120 miles to the south.

Despite our incredible successes over the past 40 years, the challenges that led to our creation still exist today and the need to connect the food dollar to farmers remains as important as ever. We continue to lose farmland at alarming rates in our region and we know that many New Yorkers still have little or no access to regionally grown food. 

Most people when they think about Greenmarket think only about our retail markets. They may not know that we operate the largest food access at farmers’ market program in the country through our Healthy Exchange Program, or that we serve over 6,000 youth annually, including offering a 10 part standards-based curriculum developed in partnership with Columbia University's Teachers College to 600 5th graders in their schools. 

Our Beginning Farmer Program, formerly the New Farmer Development Program, just graduated its 15th year of new and beginning farmers. Of the 11 graduates, 9 will be working on a farm this season. In 2015 the team arranged 17 season-long on farm mentorships and helped start 7 new farms, including one that while only being a ¼ acre is selling directly to 3 restaurants. In the last 4 years of training, over 80 percent of our graduates have come from traditionally socially disadvantaged communities, of which over 60% are women. This statistic is crucial in our achieving our mission, for we are uniquely positioned to place our graduates in thriving markets. Therefore we are able to support these new businesses while ensuring the diversity of communities in which we are located have access to culturally traditional foods and can purchase from farmers with shared or common histories. Fifty percent of the farmers that sell at Greenmarket have done so for less than 12 years, and we have an incredible group of growers that truly are our future. And for those growers we also offer a zero interest loan through Kiva Zip where we put in the first 30% of any loan up to $10,000. The first 4 loans were funded within 5 days and donors from 4 continents. 

That said, 40% of our farmers will retire in the next 15 years and of those, 40% have no identified successor. To address this, 5 years ago we expanded our NFDP and created FARMroots, which offers business and succession planning support and works to bridge our aspiring and retiring farmers. FARMroots also provides ongoing technical and marketing support for any grower in our program, and we offer a 25/75 percent cost sharing mechanism for outside consultants supporting our farmers legal and business needs. FARMroots also helps our grower community navigate the systems in which they interact, from advising on FSMA, assisting with grant writing and other income opportunities, creating market channel assessments, and in times of crises, such as post storm or in the event of crop failure, identifying and securing resources to support the impacted farms. 

Recognizing that direct farm sales account for 2% of food purchases on the best day, and that farmers’ markets are just one of many models to address farmer decline and food access, in 2012 we celebrated the birth of Greenmarket Co., our wholesale distribution arm. Now housed in a 5000’ warehouse on Cassanova Street in Hunts Point, Co. is the confluence of the wholesale farmers market, our Youthmarket and food box programs, and distributes over 2 million pounds of food annually throughout the 5 boroughs, all while paying farmers prices that are set mutually, not by commodities traders. Our model furthers the Greenmarket mission, we help farms scaled for wholesale remain viable by ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to their products. 65% percent of the food we deliver goes to underserved communities, and as we break up pallets and not cases, Gramercy Tavern gets the identical products as the Queensbridge Food Box. 

The establishment of Greenmarket Co. has allowed our Youthmarket program to expand to 16 sites, and our Fresh Food Box, one the most affordable options for food in the City, now operates in 24 locations. Our team has worked with the City’s Procurement department to discuss innovative ways to structure bids to allow for more regional products. Greenmarket Co. also serves as a capacity builder to other organizations: to date, we have helped more than 40 CBO’s facilitate their own food access and nutrition programming and over the next 2 years, we'll be training additional organizations to operate their own collaborative buying programs. It is our dream to expand our infrastructural capacity and hope to break ground on the Regional Food Hub this season. 



We’ve been busy growing our programs, and yet the focus of Greenmarket remains and will always be our retail markets. 204 farmers’ businesses rely on those markets for survival, and millions of New Yorkers depend on them weekly to shop for food, meet their neighbors, discover some new ingredient, and to take a break from the monotony of city life. Our markets remain the most dynamic, diverse and robust places to buy food in New York City. 

Our 40 years demonstrate that we are not a trend; for food has been sold in public spaces for thousands of years. And they are a testament to the farmers that work 20 hour days, 6-7 days every week, travel thousands of miles annually, and are willing to brave the outdoors, in all weather, year after year. And those farmers are at the market, engaging the communities that sustain them and who are raising their children and grandchildren on those farmers’ products. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood with Fred Wilklow at Brooklyn Borough Hall and a shopper will stop by and introduce him to their child. Meanwhile Fred knew that parent as a 2 year-old. 



Our markets are truly centers of community activity. We want everyone to smell and taste their way through; for community groups to set up and let folks know what else is happening in the neighborhood and how they can get involved. And they create economic opportunities for local businesses, including the informal tamale maker that walks through the market or sets up across the street. We’re currently engaged in a 2 year study with Cornell evaluating the economic and social impacts of downstate markets on the rural communities in which participating farms operate.

Our markets are places where farmers can test new products or varieties; the ugly food trend now popping up is what we call normal every day produce.  Our collective job as farmers and staff is to educate the consumer on what those varieties are, how to prepare them, preserve them, make stock from the bones- I was terrified of celeriac until I tasted then manager Lela Chapman’s cooking demo on the corner of 57th street and 9th Avenue in 2007. 

The perfect example of the power of our markets is the work of the Greenmarket Regional Grains Project. For years we heard from our farmers and consumers that our baked goods did not showcase regional agriculture and live up to the expectations of Greenmarket. In 2008, led by June Russell, we spent 2 years working with our FCAC and baker community to enact a rule that required all bakers use 15% local flour, and instituted a point system for eligibility, that also required local eggs, sweeteners, fats, flavoring, and incentivized fair trade and other items. Today our bakers average over 40% local grain; but the project has grown into something much larger. Greenmarket staff now operates a bi-weekly grain stand, where we aggregate products from 19 producers, all too small for an individual stand to be economically viable, and we play 4 crucial roles. 1. We educate consumers about heritage and rare grain varieties, thus generating demand for the products; 2. We are creating the efficiencies for these producers and their distributors to access to the New York City marketplace, which we define beyond the borders of our markets; 3 generating crucial income to those grain growers, who know currently they can make more money with an acre of gmo corn that red fife; and in doing so are encouraging more farmers to plant these varieties on their farms, which leads to healthier soils, increased revenue, and more beer and booze for you and me. We are not just some marketplace that moves food; we are a mission driven non-profit that creates viable spaces to support farms and build community. 

In the last ten years there has been an enormous rise in demand for local products- and we celebrate that and pridefully take some credit for it.  We simply want to ensure that the other and new providers also place the grower and the community benefits equally to their own. We’ve witnessed the rise in Faux-cal- fake local; we know that some new delivery companies went out of business leaving the farmers in compromised positions. But it is in all of our collective interests to see the growth of regional agriculture, and we will support any effort that does so responsibly.  
 
In this our 40th season we look forward to the opening of Project Farmhouse, our first ever permanent home where we can enhance our educational programming and offer meeting and training space to other nonprofits engaged in sustainability. We will continue to help develop new farmers, support existing ones, and strive to make our markets better every day. What’s amazing is that even after 40 years we still have so much to learn and work to do. On July 16th, 1976, I don’t think Barry and Bob had any idea that the Grains project would exist. But they believed in a concept and laid an incredible foundation that allowed for so much good work to happen and evolve. 

Grow Your Garden with EBT

March 24, 2016

Spring is here and it's time to start getting your backyard and window sill gardens planted! Greenmarket producers offer a variety of plant starts for a small window herb garden or more extensive gardens of fruits and vegetables. Shoppers using their EBT cards are also able to purchase any seeds or plants that produce food. Growing your own food is a great way to have fresh produce on hand even when you can't make it to a Greenmarket. Here are five more reasons why you should grow your own produce:

5 Reasons to Grow Your Own Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs

1.  Improve Your Health
Homegrown vegetables, fruits and herbs are more nutritious than store-bought ones—the less time that passes between harvesting produce and eating it, the fewer nutrients lost. Fresher taste better too!

2.  Know Your Food
The best way to gain control over where your food comes from is to grow it yourself. Growing your own food ensures that your vegetables, fruits and herbs are not exposed to the harmful pesticides or chemical fertilizers that are often used on industrial farms.

3.  Save Money
Growing your food can save you money. Gardens require minimal start-up equipment, and each plant can yield many vegetables and fruits. Compared to the cost of the seeds or seedling, vegetable, fruit, and herb plants are a great bargain.

4.  Teach Your Kids
A great way to teach children about where food comes from or how it’s grown is to show them firsthand. And, you can incorporate science, math, nutrition, and even history lessons—all while playing in the dirt.

5.  Have Fun
Growing food is fun! Watching a seedling transform into an edible plant, nurtured by the sun and your work, is incredibly satisfying. In a time when many of us spend hours in front of a computer every day, the chance to get your hands dirty can be a welcome and fun hobby.

Calling All Artists: GrowNYC Contest

March 22, 2016

Tell Our Story

We are looking for artists to channel their inner environmentalist and create a two-dimensional work of art inspired by GrowNYC's work in NYC: think Greenmarkets, gardens, recycling, compost, habitat, ecosystems and more. 

We'll put your work up for a public vote and present the top ten at our Union Square Greenmarket this May. 3 lucky winners will win prizes!

Enter

Starting March 21, submit your artwork via the linked form below in the following formats: BMP, JPG, PDF, PNG, PSD, TIF. Files should be no larger than 25 MB. Online submissions only. The submission deadline is 12 midnight on April 18. See Rules Here.

*Please note submission does not guarantee entry in the public voting stage of the contest. 

To Enter Click Here

 

Prizes!

First Place: A gourmet four-course Lunch and wine pairing for two at Gotham Bar and Grill + a $100 gift card to Blick Artist Supply + GrowNYC Prize Pack + and your signed artwork or design printed and walking around NYC on limited edition GrowNYC swag + your artwork on display at a one-day GrowNYC event at Union Square Greenmarket in May 2016

Second Place: A $100 gift card to Blick Artist Supply + GrowNYC prize pack +your artwork on display at a one-day GrowNYC event at Union Square Greenmarket in May 2016

Third Place: A $100 gift card to Blick Artist Supply + your artwork on display at a one-day GrowNYC event at Union Square Greenmarket in May 2016

Top 10: Your artwork featured on our voting page and at a one-day GrowNYC event atUnion Square Greenmarket in May 2

New Voices to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!

March 3, 2016

The Recycling Champions Program is singing praises to MS 443K New Voices School of Academic & Creative Arts students. The New Voices Green Team hosted a recycling and compost assembly program as part of their 1st organics collection and recycling program in the cafeteria. Later that day all 537 students created only 2 small bags of trash during lunch; everything else was recycled and composted!

Created by the NV Green Team students and Amy Musick, Chorus Teacher and Sustainability Coordinator, thier lively presentation incorporated video, music and live performance. And the results speak for themselves!

Cafeteria Composting/Recycling start date: 2/26/2016
BEFORE: 7 Mixed Trash Cans distributed throughout the cafeteria
AFTER: Compost/Bucket/Tray Stacker Station, plus a Green Bin/Blue Bin

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