A Day in the Life: Greenmarket Market Manager Lisa Valinsky

 
5:00 a.m.: Alarm goes off. Hit snooze. 
 
5:09 a.m.: Alarm goes off again. This time, I get up, a bit sleepy. I put water on for tea, make a big bowl of cereal with thawed out berries from the freezer, and check the weather forecast. It only feels like 30 degrees, so that means I only have to wear three layers of pants today. Woohoo!
 
5:35 a.m.: Take the puppy out for a quick walk. It's quiet out there, and yes, it's feeling pretty warm (for February).
 
5:45 a.m.: Make a green smoothie to bring for lunch. It's loaded with Gajeski Produce spinach, and fills a quart-sized mason jar. Perfect.
 
6:00 a.m.: Publish a 79th Street update to Facebook, grab my compost, and I'm out the door.
 
6:10 a.m.: Arrive at market. Carlton from King Ferry Winery has arrived, so I say hello and we chat about the weather. I've found, in Greenmarket, just as in farming, we talk about the weather a lot. I also note the one car parked in our lane.
 
6:15 a.m.: Organize my stuff for the day, relishing in the relative quiet of an early Sunday on Columbus Avenue.
 
6:40 a.m.: The northern Manhattan van has arrived. Phebe is here! We start unloading tents, tables, bins, signs, and loads of other equipment.
 
6:45 a.m.: Red Jacket Orchards, one of our new producers at 79th Street, has arrived. A few phone calls and texts later, I get them settled into their space.
 
6:55 a.m.: Back to unloading the van. A table here, a tent there.
 
7:15 a.m.: Greet farmers and workers as they arrive. I chat with Nikki from Hot Bread Kitchen about a few food happenings in the city. Jerry, our compost coordinator, has arrived, so we catch up. The whole time we're talking I'm scanning through the market, keeping an eye out for anything that needs attending, or anyone who needs help. Early morning at 79th Street often leads to lots of vehicle maneuvering.
 
7:40 a.m.: Today's a coffee kind of day. I run over to World Coffee across the street.
 
7:45 a.m.: Troubleshoot, problem solve, take phone calls, answer texts, greet new vendors, and figure out placements of stands. All in a day's work as a market manager.
 
8:15 a.m.: Someone's waving for me to greet the tow truck driver. I run over to show which car needs to be relocated.
 
8:25 a.m.: Set up our information tent and display. We've got a whole bunch of literature to display, so I set up the apple crate and baskets and make a basic set up before my coworker Nicole gets to market at 10:00 a.m.
 
9:00 a.m.: Walk through the market again. I like to say hello and check to make sure everyone has shown up on time. We have two new vendors this week - Red Jacket Orchards and Mountain Sweet Berry Farm - that means it's time for a little social media. I take photos of their beautiful displays, and do some promotion on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. 

 
9:15 a.m.: Brainstorm with Jerry about how to get the word out more about our composting program. We fill 13 bins most weeks, but know we have a lot more people to reach. I chat a bit with a local food blogger about having her do a food demo for us this spring. She mentions dumplings, which sound like a great idea.
 
9:30 a.m.: It's market report time! I go to each producer and check them off for all types of at-market rules: arrived on time to market, tent secured, farm sign displayed, price signs displayed, purchased items sign up, baked goods ingredients sign up, and all kinds of other things. I take my time making sure everything looks in order.
 
10:20 a.m.: Rinzin from Knoll Krest hands me a lemon tart to try.
 
10:30 a.m.: Head back to our tent to say hi to Nicole, who manages 79th Street's promotions and EBT. We chat about the upcoming day, as we're planning to celebrate Chinese New Year with longevity noodles and poem writing.
 
10:45 a.m.: Brian of Gajeski Produce stops by the tent to greet us. He always checks in on Sundays.
 
11:00 a.m.: Design a sign for our new vendors, and bring it to the composting center to display.
 
11:10 a.m.: Andrew's arrived. He's our weekly volunteer, which is a huge help at this market. I start out by asking him to give breaks to farmers.
 
11:20 a.m.: Green smoothie drinking and Chinese New Year poem writing time. While writing, we have a few customers stop by to get EBT and debit/credit tokens.
 
11:45 a.m.: John from Red Jacket hands me a hot cider.

 
12:00 p.m.: Nicole and Andrew are busy preparing the noodle dish, so I make the rounds to give breaks to anyone working on their own. I break DiPaola Turkeys and Ronnybrook, Hudson Valley Duck and Berkshire Berries.
 
12:50 p.m.: Check in on the demo. It smells delicious. Our regional coordinator, Margaret, has stopped by, so we chat and I get some more social media going with photos of the noodles.
 
1:40 p.m.: More breaks! This time it's with Francesca's Bakery, Knoll Krest, and Lavender By the Bay. As I make my rounds, I check in with producers to see how the day is going, and grab a white bean and collard greens turnover from Body & Soul Bakery. The market's been hopping with this gorgeous springlike weather and lots of people are out and about.
 
2:45 p.m.: When I check in with Las Delicias, I get handed a chocolate Chunk of Heaven. It sure is. When I check-in with Divine Brine, I get handed a Devilish Dill pickle. I declare that it's my new favorite Divine Brine pickle.
 
2:50 p.m.: I'm back at the tent to find one of our regular customers. She always stops by with her two little Yorkshire Terriers, so I tell her how we're planning to do a dog portrait day this spring. We look at a potential spot for setting it up, and talk about potential volunteers. 79th Street is a big dog market, so we're hoping it'll be a big success.
 
3:00 p.m.: Nicole's off to do token redemptions with the farmers, so I stay at the tent. 
 
3:15 p.m.: Phebe is back from Columbia Greenmarket early! I start packing up the bins and chat with a few customers about the day's food demo, recipes, and Greenmarket's requirements for selling at market.
 
3:50 p.m.: Nicole is done and back at the tent, so I gather up my things and we chat about possible food demos for next week. We're always scheming with promo and demo ideas.
 
4:10 p.m.: I see a very familiar-looking puppy out of the corner of my eye...it's my husband and puppy, here to pick me up! I'm done for the day, so we wander through the market, picking up greens, eggs, and lavender sachets along the way. It's been a long day, but one with beautiful weather, and of course, lots of great food.

 

Greenmarket Director Visits Bologna, Italy

In September, Greenmarket Director Michael Hurwitz had the incredible honor and privilege to visit Bologna, Italy to speak at a conference framed around feeding the planet in a sustainable way. Here is a re-cap of the trip in his words. 

My presentation specifically focused on the many roles farmers’ markets play: creating centers of community activity, driving regional economy and providing meaningful opportunities for small farms to thrive, as well as educating children, consumers and policy makers on the issues associated with sustainable agriculture, and among numerous other benefits, piloting city-wide initiatives such as residential food scrap collections. And while the marketplace needs no introduction in Italy, their farming communities share many of the same challenges facing those here in the States.

My most precious time on the trip was spent discussing potential solutions to those challenges with my dear host and ally, Paolo Russo, who I met years ago in New York City when he represented food producers from Italian mountain communities, working to have their products sold globally. And the highlight, not just of the trip but of 2013, was the time I spent in Sarsina with Paolo and his colleague Lucio Cangini, the former Director of Mountain Regions in Italy. Now Lucio is a philosopher, activist, mentor, inspiration, and an artist: his painting, Trans-Democracy, a commentary on the changing nature of democracy inspired by the Arab Spring, now hangs on my kitchen wall. Our conversation lasted hours, most of which were spent over lunch at La Maschere, a slice of heaven situated in the mountains of Cesena. 

It’s times like these that I wish I had a sophisticated vocabulary- as I am incapable of adequately describing the culinary experience that chef Federico Tonetti provided that day. Our second course, the Squacquerone made with milk from the town, was like nothing I’ve tasted prior- freshness was redefined that afternoon; and when we told Chef Tonetti that we couldn’t possibly eat dessert after our Cappelette with speck and white truffles floating in a pigeon broth, he opened his “favorite” American wine, a Mondavi Cabernet, the perfect complement to the lamb chops stuffed with anchovy that quickly followed.

That day was four men, two of whom spoke no English and one who spoke no Italian, bonding over the sharing of food and ideas. Lucio laments the cultural and economic loss of the traditional Italian mountain town, as younger generations leave the countryside believing their futures are elsewhere- you can see and hear the sadness as well the hope as he speaks. Together we discussed Greenmarket’s work to provide viable economic opportunities for farmers and the role we play in maintaining rural communities and farms, demonstrating to the next generation that there can be a real future in agriculture. I cherish those hours we spent that day and I look forward to sitting with Lucio again, either here in New York or back in Italy- preferably- to learn from a sage who has seen such transformation in his lifetime and worked effortlessly to strengthen community. And I am eternally grateful to Chef Tonetti for his incredible generosity and providing me a culinary experience that can never be matched.

I left Sarsina that day both physically and emotionally exhausted and exhilarated, thinking I was heading back to Bologna for a quiet last afternoon. I had no idea that part two of this incredible day was 45 minutes away in Bertinoro, a gorgeous hill town overlooking the Adriatic Sea. We were greeted by Giampaolo Amadori, a man larger than life, who is both the CEO of the Central University of Bertinoro as well as of the Foundazione Alma Mater Eventi, among the many other titles he carries. He’s basically The Man in all things Bertinoro if not the region itself.

Giampaolo had arranged a special tour of the Interfaith Museum, located in the dungeon of the 11th Century Bishop’s Fortress, which is dedicated to promoting dialogue between Judaism, Islam and Christianity. From there we walked the town, and of course ended the day with yet another meal. And while it felt sacrilegious to eat after the experience at La Maschere, the Piadina extravaganza at the roadside stand was as perfect an end to my trip as one could hope. These flatbread sandwiches, stuffed with pumpkin, cheese and spinach, which of course I had no problem putting down, were a game changer. And the company and the conversation were pretty amazing too.

These experiences did not occur in a vacuum, but rather took place in a context of exchange and education. I was invited to Italy to share my experiences and ideas how to address the gaps in our food system and the challenges that industrial production creates. This event was organized by BolognaFiere and CAAB- the Agribusiness Centre of Bologna- essentially the equivalent of our Hunt’s Point Produce Cooperative in New York. It functions as the major fruit and vegetable distribution center of Northern Italy, though it is operated by rather different standards and organizational structure as well as guiding values.

CAAB is primarily owned by the City of Bologna and the University; only 3% is held by the co-op members and banks. CAAB is a shining example of what is possible here in New York City, as this structure allows for the market to serve the best interests of all involved- farmers, distributors, consumers, and the houses. There’s even a community garden on its grounds that I had the privilege of helping to inaugurate with Bologna’s Mayor, Virginio Merola, during my visit.

I am deeply grateful to Duccio Caccioni and Andrea Segré for welcoming me so generously and for their incredible work building a more just and sustainable food system. Andrea is the President of CAAB as well as the Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences at the Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna and Duccio serves as the Marketing & Quality Manager at CAAB and is a regular contributor to Fresh Point Magazine. I look forward to continuing my and hopefully New York City’s dialogue with Andrea, Duccio, Mayor Merola, Lucio, and Giampaolo, creating real cultural exchanges and promoting the food capitals of the world while highlighting shared values and visions. 2014 has much to bring, and I am excited to bang heads with my dear friend Paolo Russo and guide some of that process.

Solar Ovens and Earth Science Lesson Plan

GrowNYC's Environmental Education program engages New York City school children across the five boroughs with curriculum on renewable energy, habitat restoration, water health, and green design.

One of our office's most successful interdisciplinary activities has been building solar ovens from used pizza boxes. The project is both fun and educational and is for kids from upper elementary school through high school. Our lesson plan, available for free download below, guides teachers and youth leaders through the process of introducing key Earth Science concepts to their students while they engage youth in building working pizza box solar ovens.

Download a PDF of our 11-page unit Solar Ovens and Earth Science.

GrowNYC Community Compost Partner Profile: Gowanus Canal Conservancy

GrowNYC collects food scraps and other organic waste at various Greenmarkets around the city to distribute to local compost partners in the surrounding area. With the help of community volunteers, New York City’s recycled food scraps are transformed into a nutrient rich soil amendment for farming and greening purposes throughout the five boroughs.

A few minutes’ walk from the F train, Gowanus Canal Conservancy’s (GCC) Salt Lot hosts a monthly compost windrow build for volunteers from around the city. November’s volunteers included about a dozen students from the Brooklyn Technical High School’s Red Cross Club, a group of elementary students from a Bed-Stuy Charter School, and a myriad of volunteers simply happy to enjoy an outdoor-community activity.

Sam and Maria Pruden of Harlem join GCC monthly to participate in composting. Behind Sam and Maria is an illustration of the compost build and process.

The volunteers arrived ready to tackle the record-breaking 10,000 pounds of food scraps that had been collected from four Greenmarkets the day before. The bins of food scraps are dumped and mixed in a large pile on the ground with leaves and yard scraps, taking about 4 hours. The pile, or windrow, will sit for two weeks, and then be turned by a GCC staff member once a week for the following four weeks, before it is sifted to make a final product. At the end of these six weeks, GCC has a fertile soil amendment for tree pits and rain gardens that help prevent polluted water from entering the canal.

Two students from Brooklyn Technical School’s Red Cross Club carry a bin of food scraps to the compost pile to be mixed with leaves and other dry yard trimmings.

GCC Coordinators Jared McGuire and Christine Petro, sift processed compost to make final product with a Bed-Stuy group leader.

Christine Petro has been volunteering with GCC for almost two years and has noticed a steady increase in the amount of food scraps being delivered from the weekend markets over the past three months. Salt Lot is just one of many community compost sites around the city. Asked about the objective of these local projects, she says, “The objective is twofold: to have a positive environmental impact for the surrounding community, and also to teach the practice of composting for educational and applications going forward.”

Jared McGuire and Christine Petro, GCC Volunteer Coordinators.

Deck the Halls - Christmas trees + holiday wreaths at Greenmarkets

Get your locally grown Christmas trees, wreaths, and boughs from a local farmer. A list of markets where you can stock up on holiday greens follows:

Caradonna Farms: Trees (Union Square Wednesday, Saturday)
Fiori Di Fenice: Wreaths (Union Square, Saturday) 
Floral Beauty Greenhouse: Douglass fir trees (Columbia, Sunday)
Keith's Farm: Organic trees and wreaths (Union Square Wednesday, Saturday)
Lebak Farms: Wreaths (Grand Army Plaza, Saturday)
Mountain Sweet Berry Farm: Wreaths and princess pines (Union Square, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday)
Rexcroft Farm: Trees, wreaths, garlands (Dag Hammarskjold, Wednesday; Fort Greene, Saturday) 
River Garden: Dried flower wreaths (Union Square, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday)
Stokes Farm: Herb wreaths (Tucker, Thursday, Saturday; Union Square, Saturday)
Trumansburg Tree Farms: Trees and wreaths (Union Square Wednesday (12/18), Friday (12/20), Saturday; Grand Army Plaza, Saturday (12/7)
Van Houten Farms: Trees and wreaths (Union Square, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday)

Greenmarket Staff Picks for Thanksgiving

Not only does our staff love working out at markets—even as it starts to get cold, over 20 will remain open until Christmas, or year-round—we love shopping at them for the same reason you do: we’re avid home cooks. See our staff picks for favorite items to buy at the market to celebrate Thanksgiving, and reference the annual Greenmarket Turkey Guide to find out where to place an order for your bird.

Greenmarket Staff Picks

“I got a pumpkin from Acevedo Farm…but I already ate it. I roasted it in the toaster oven for lunch.” – Maria Rojas, FARMroots Communications Associate 

“Oysters! We do oyster shucking at my house the night before. And a glass of Greenmarket Wheat beer to celebrate the harvest season.” – Liz Carollo, Publicity Manager

“I get my sweet potatoes from Lani’s Farm and Samascott Orchards.” – Michael Hurwitz, Greenmarket Director 

“Fuji apples from Terhune Orchards (perfect for apple pie for Thanksgiving), olive focaccia from Central Bakery for leftover sandwiches, Ronnybrook cream (perfect for whipping for a pumpkin pie topping) and Amantai Farm's broccoli (it's the best) for the perfect veggie side for dinner. There’s so much! It’s hard to choose just one favorite.” – Brittany Ryan, Socrates, Forest Hills and Astoria Greenmarket Manager 

“Bakers Bounty's challah loaf with Wilklow Orchard's Winesap apples for some apple-challah stuffing!” – Luciana Ramirez, City Hall and Fort Greene Greenmarket Manager

“Greg Lebak's [Lebak Farm] Brussels sprouts, sauteed then roasted and topped with parmesan! They are small, sweet (after a frost or two) and delicious.” – Samantha Blatteis, Union Square Greenmarket Manager

“I guess I would say quince from Treelicious Orchards, to make a quince chutney. We put it out with cheese and crackers as an appetizer.” – Caroline Hiteshew, Publicity Assistant and Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket Manager

“Divine Brine's Cranberry apple chutney for a new twist on cranberry sauce.” – Luz Portillo, Mount Sinai, Poe Park and Inwood Greenmarkets EBT and Market Manager 

“Potato salad with Bill Maxwell’s [Maxwell’s Farm] carola potatoes.” – Rob Shepherd, EBT Project Associate

“I really love a delicata squash from Joe O’Brien [Healthway Farm].”  –  Alexis Stevens, EBT Project Manager

 “Farmer Ground Flour for cornmeal. I like to add cornbread to my stuffing.” – June Russell, Manager of Farm Inspections, Strategic Development and Regional Grains Project

“Pre-made lard pie crust from Flying Pigs Farm,”  – Davy Hughes, Union Square Greenmarket Operations Manager

“Apples from Locust Grove to make Four and Twenty Blackbirds recipe for apple pie.” – Cheryl Huber, Greenmarket Assistant Director

“Hot Bread Kitchen challah for the most buttery and delicious turkey stuffing. Thanksgivukkah, baby!” – Kathleen Crosby, Tompkins Square, Fort Washington and Abingdon Square Greenmarket Manager
 
“Tiogo's [preserved] bourbon peaches...with Ronnybrook vanilla ice cream!” – Allison Campbell, Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge Greenmarket Manager

“Cranberry horseradish chutney from Beth’s Farm Kitchen, the perfect condiment on a turkey sandwich made with leftovers.” – Jeanne Hodesh, Greenmarket Communications Associate

Autumn at Greenmarkets: Union Square Night Market, JetBlue, Big Apple Crunch and Thanksgiving

As it always is, October was a busy month at Greenmarket. There was our Night Market in Union Square, which drew a lively hard cider sipping crowd well past sunset, our pop-up market at Jet Blue showcasing the flavor of New York, which was well received by New Yorkers on their way out of town and visitors just stepping off flights on their way into the Big Apple. And speaking of apples, we celebrated Food Day with the Big Apple Crunch at markets around the city.
 
Just around the corner is our undisputed favorite holiday, Thanksgiving! Visit your neighoborhood market to shop for all of your Thanksgiving ingredients and don't forget to pre-order your turkey from a Greenmarket farmer. A few of our Thursday/Friday markets hold special days of operation earlier in the week so that customers can shop for their Thanksgiving ingredients. See below for that list. 
 
Thanksgiving Re-scheduled Markets
97th Street Greenmarket – Open Wednesday, November 27 (closed Friday, November 29)
Bowling Green Greenmarket - Open Wednesday, November 27 (closed Thursday, November 27)
City Hall Greenmarket - Open Wednesday, November 27 (closed Friday, November 29)
Columbia University Greenmarket – Open Tuesday, November 26 (closed Thursday, November 27)
Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket - Open Wednesday, November 27
Tucker Square Greenmarket - Open Wednesday, November 27th (closed Thursday, November 27)

**NOTE: Aside from Columbia University's Tuesday market, these additional market days will not have food scrap or textile recycling collections. 

#GivingTuesday 2013 is coming…

How do you give back?

We’ve all heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but what about #GivingTuesday?

This year on Tuesday, December 3, GrowNYC is joining a national movement to celebrate and encourage giving: a day when charities, families, students, businesses, community centers, and others come together for #GivingTuesday - a day dedicated to celebrate giving and encourage more, smarter giving during the Holiday Season. Mark your calendar. #GivingTuesday 2013 is Tuesday, December 3rd.

#GivingTuesday is about doing what you can to give back. It’s about showing that all of us can do so much more with our wallets than just consume. Last year #GivingTuesday included more than 100,000 individuals participating in ways that matter to them.

All of us here at GrowNYC know that you care about making a difference, and that's why we invite you to join #GivingTuesday. Donate, spread the word, volunteer for groups you care about (we hope that includes GrowNYC!) and encourage your friends to give in lieu of gifts or just because.

So mark your calendar and on December 3rd take action in ways that means something to you.

#Giveback this #GivingTuesday!

To learn more go to givingtuesday.org.

Be sure to follow us on twitter @grownyc, and share how you give back with #givegrownyc

INFOGRAPHIC: A History of Food Stamps at GrowNYC's Farmers Markets

This marks the 8th year that GrowNYC has been accepting EBT at Greenmarkets across the city.  The program has come a long way since our initial partnership with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets in 2005.  

Read all about it below!

A Pop-Up Greenmarket at JetBlue's T5 at JFK Airport

GrowNYC is proud to announce that we'll be partnering with JetBlue on a pop-up Greenmarket in T5 at JFK Airport on October 29th, 30th, & 31st.

From the press release:

From October 29 - 31, 2013, travelers will be able to experience the Greenmarket at T5 and take a taste of New York home with them. The market will include education stations, a harvest-themed photo booth, a bike blender for people-powered cooking demonstrations, a composting pile with live worms, and a recycling game. The T5 Greenmarket will also include an array of goods all made from products grown locally in New York State. Products include baked goods, pies, grains, honey, jam, maple syrup, fruit, pickles, tomato sauce, wine, as well as Greenmarket Wheat Beer and Hard Cider.

"GrowNYC has been connecting upstate farmers with New York City shoppers for nearly four decades; by offering the best that New York state has to offer from its rich fields and orchards," said Marcel Van Ooyen, Executive Director of GrowNYC. "Our Greenmarkets ensure that all New Yorkers have access to fresh, healthy food; now, JetBlue customers will be able to take a taste of the State with them when they pass through T5 on their way out of town. We hope they’ll share the bounty our state has to offer with others far and wide."

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