A Day in the Life: Greenmarket Market Manager

From the streets of New York, our market manager Kathleen Crosby reports back on a typical day in the life managing the Tompkins Square Greenmarket, which has been transforming a corner of the East Village into a neighborhood center of sustainability every Sunday since 1997.

4:45 a.m.: Alarm goes off. I decide not to hit the snooze button this morning, and disable two other back-up alarms. I make a strong cup of tea and breakfast: Ronnybrook maple yogurt with peaches, bee pollen, chia seeds, and grape nuts.

5:25 a.m.: Carry bike downstairs and head off. It is not light out yet and the Brooklyn roads are empty.

6:05 a.m.: I arrive at the market site, before any of the farmers. Humidity is at about 80% and Tompkins is smelling RIPE.

6:50 a.m.: The first producer of the day, Red Jacket Orchards, arrives at market.

7:20 a.m.: I set up the market info table and tent. The Greenmarket van is filled to the BRIM today with equipment. A 40 pound kettle ball falls out as I open the back door, then work to cram my 10x10 ft. tent into a 7 ft. space between a tree and sign post. Decide on which recipes to display and put out our many pamphlets and handouts. Today we’re featuring tomatoes, so I go grab a bunch of heirlooms for a display.

7:50 a.m.: Harry arrives on the scene. Harry is a long time resident of E. 7th St. and knows all the best spots in the East Village. He usually wears a hat that says "stud" but not today. I'm thinking I should get him a little button that says "Honorary Mayor of Tompkins Square." Each week, Harry helps Jimmy Stannard of Stannard Farms set up and break down, gives breaks to workers throughout the day, and greets people he knows well by howling like a wolf. His friend "Red" walks by. He howls and she howls right back.

9:00 a.m.: Plaster farmers' stands with signage promoting EBT, Health Bucks, frequent shopper promotion signs, plus signs about our upcoming Salsa-off event.

9:15 a.m.: Pam from Ronnybrook feeds me ice cream (it's a tradition we have). Today's flavor is stracciatella.

9:30 a.m.: Do the market report. Today, all the farmers have complied with the rules: on time, farm sign out, price signs out, product labels on honey, meat, eggs, etc; tents weighted down, boxes of produce not sitting directly on the ground, meat, eggs and dairy chilled. Everything is in order. While at Norwich Meadow's stand, one of the Tibetan workers hands me a hot samosa.

10:00 a.m.: Quetsy from Meredith's Bakery needs a bathroom break. I sell a few scones and gluten-free loaves of bread.

10:15 a.m.: Now to work on my a-frame sign. First the letters are too big. Erase. Then too small. Erase. A regular comes up and talks to me for 20 minutes about the history of the East Village. How it has changed!

10:30 a.m.: Finish setting up the info table. Grab some peppers and tomatoes to decorate my stand with. Swiping EBT & Debit/Credit cards and giving out tokens and health bucks. Checking off frequent shopper cards. Try to get more people to sign up for the Salsa-off.

10:45 a.m.: Pam literally spoon-feeds me some of her second batch of ice cream, strawberry this time.

11:15 a.m.: A couple of neighborhood residents who are trying to start a CSA next week approach me about fruit. I introduce him to Jimmy Stannard and they work out prices.

11:30 a.m.: Go pick up some ingredients for the cooking demo. Since we're featuring tomatoes, I grab some ripe juicy ones, a few ears of yellow corn, a bag of okra, and some hot and sweet peppers. All donated by the farmers. Arielle, my helper, chops away. I run to the local Chinese take-out join to pick up a quart of rice to serve the dish. We'll call it...a summer stew.

12:00 p.m.: Do a little social media. Walk around and see what looks good. The sun is hitting Norwich Meadow's beautiful tomatoes just right. Post to instagram, check. Post to twitter, check. Post to facebook, check.

12:30 - 2:00 p.m.: Hand out samples into tiny cups until it's all gone. I think we have some okra converts. The key is slice it thin and toss it in the pan for a few seconds at the very end. Man is it getting hot.

2:10 p.m.: Samples are gone. Now we get to lunch. I'm having some zucchini pasta ribbons with basil, almonds and pecorino.

2:45 p.m.: Harry comes over with an idea. He thinks we should put together a little box of goodies from the market and give it to the owner of the Odessa restaurants across the street. The Odessa Cafe and uber dive-y Odessa Bar have long been fixtures of the EV, but unfortunately Odessa Bar had to close its doors a few days ago. The people at Odessa Cafe have been good to the market over the years letting us use their bathroom and serving up cheap iced coffees. I grab a crate from Jimmy and fill it up with an assortment of produce, bread, pie, and juice from all the vendors. Harry escorts me over and introduces me to the owner. He apparently doesn't come to the restaurant often, so I'm glad to have the opportunity to thank him. He happily accepts.

3:30 p.m.: An indie film location scout approaches us about using farmers' stands in a scene they're shooting in Tompkins Square park.

4:00 p.m.: Look at the salsa-off list and 3 more people have signed up!

4:30 p.m.: Haifa from Norwich Meadows finds out that I don't really eat meat. "You'll have an amino acid deficiency when you get older!" she exclaims, and thrusts some chicken into my hands.

4:45 p.m.: City Harvest arrives on the scene. They double park on 7th. I meet this week’s volunteer and give them some bags to collect unsold produce from farmers to donate to pantries.

5:05 p.m.: The first of Toigo's three trucks arrives from Carroll Gardens, soon followed by their second, much larger truck from Stuytown. Pura Vida packs up a little late, so these two trucks are double parked on 7th. I move my van and Acevedo's small truck so I can fit the smaller Toigo truck in.

5:15 p.m.: Pura Vida leaves but Toigo's big truck can't make that wide turn from 7th onto Ave A because of the City Harvest truck that is still double parked. I ask the CH driver if he can kindly go around the block to let Toigo through. He's cool about it.

5:20 p.m.: All the farmers have packed up for the day except for Meredith's, so now it's my turn. Play van-tetris for a half-hour getting all of the weights, tables, tents, bins, a-frames, racks, and banners in order.

5:50 p.m.: Forgot about the a-frame I have on 1st Ave. Run over and pick it up.

6:00 p.m.: Get a few bags of peaches, plums, and nectarines from Toigo, who are usually the last to leave.

6:10 p.m.: Say my goodbyes and start packing my backpack and bike panniers. Got too much stuff again, have to bungee some squash and peppers on the top of my bike rack.

6:15 p.m.: DANG! Somehow a peach got into my bag of EBT supplies and smashed right up against the keys of my terminal. Classic!

Fall Cookbook Signings at the Union Square Greenmarket

This fall, meet some your favorite cookbook authors, chefs and food world luminaries as they sell their cookbooks at the Union Square Greenmarket

Saturday, September 14, 10 - 2 p.m.
Book signing with Hiroko Shimbo, author of Hiroko's American Kitchen and Hiroko's Kitchen.

Wednesday, September 18, 10 – 1 p.m.
Book signing with Miriam Rubin, author of Tomatoes

Saturday, September 28, 10 - 1 p.m.
Book signing with Liz Neumark, author of Sylvia's Table 

Saturday, October 12th, 11 – 2 p.m.
Book signing with Dina Falconi, author, and Wendy Hollender, illustrator of Foraging & Feasting

Saturday, November 2, 11 - 2 p.m. 
Book signing with Michael Anthony, head chef at Gramercy Tavern

Greenmarket book signings are hosted in partnership with Food Book Fair

Pop Up Greenmarket hosted by Tishman Speyer on Hudson St 9/17 & 9/18

 
Greenmarket and Tishman Speyer will open a pop-up Greenmarket at 375 Hudson Street in downtown Manhattan. The 2-day market will be home to regionally grown fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, flowers and baked goods. Access is free and open to the public.
 
Two days only! Hudson & West Houston St, Manhattan 8am - 5pm Tuesday, September 17 and Wednesday, September 18 
 
Farms Attending
 
Millport Dairy Cheddar cheese, eggs and meat from Lancaster County, PA 
Paumanok Vineyards Wine from Suffolk County, NY
Beth's Farm Kitchen Jams, preserves, chutneys, and pickled vegetables from Columbia County, New York.
Las Delicias Patisserie Baked goods from Bronx County, New York

GrowNYC Partners Launches!

GrowNYC is proud to announce the launch of GrowNYC Partners, a professional consulting service for food, farming, gardening, and recycling projects.

GrowNYC Partners will help businesses, foundations, and government agencies transform and empower their consumers and communities, spearheading sustainability througout New York City's private sector and beyond.  And as a non-profit with 40 years of success, we are dedicated to providing simple, cost-effective solutions.  

Whether you are interested in building a rooftop farm, a courtyard garden, or a citywide food systems strategy, GrowNYC Partners can help.

Learn more about GrowNYC Partners or email us for more info!

Meet the Swapateers



Since 2007, GrowNYC’s Office of Recycling Outreach and Education has been hosting community swap events to reduce waste and engage residents in the practice of reuse.  Stop ‘N’ Swap® helps keep good things out of the landfill by bringing together people with good things they no longer need and those who can use those items.  We have held 47 swaps so far, serving nearly 12,000 New Yorkers.  With the addition of two new staff dedicated to our Stop ‘N’ Swap program, we aim to dramatically increase access to these events.  Meet TK Zellers and Carl-Harry Nau, the team working to bring a swap to each of the city’s 59 Community Districts each year. 

What’s your favorite part of the job?

CHN: At a Stop ‘N’ Swap you have a diverse group of people show up all looking for something new to add to their life. Interacting with the folks at the swap is fun because you get a sense of who they are and why they are here, and I get to see cool new stuff. 

TKZ: Telling people who’ve never heard of Stop ‘N’ Swaps about what they are and what we do.  There’s always a moment of disbelief, and it sometimes takes some convincing to get people to believe that, for instance, ‘it’s totally free!’, but in the end everyone I talk to is impressed, happy, and excited to get swapping!  I’ve even got some high-fives, and one hug so far. 

Have you always been inclined to reuse things? 

CHN: I grew up in a house with two brothers and both my parents working their tails off to pay rent. So it was safe to say things like clothes, cell phones, video games, and toys were passed down from one child to the next.  I even took some items that my friends no longer wanted. Reusing is second nature.

TKZ: I always liked the idea of repurposing things for more creative uses.   Every gift I gave anyone until about the age of 16 was handmade out of old papers, cans, bottles and duct tape. My artistic talent didn’t ever live up to my aspirations, but it’s the thought that counts, and ugly or not, that soda-can-picture-frame stayed out of the waste stream!

What are some of the reactions you get when bringing a swap to a community for the first time? 
CHN:
People usually ask whether we’ll be back the next week, or when we will return to the neighborhood.  Swaps receive a warm reception from those who grasp the concept of what we do and they also conjure feelings of regret by those who pass by and realize what they missed out on.

Does the swap change from neighborhood to neighborhood, or is it relatively consistent?

CHN: I have noticed the items that are swapped change from location to location. Some areas have more books, others have more house wares, and some areas have more children’s clothing.

The Stop ‘N’ Swap volunteers are pretty incredible.  What keeps them going?  Do  you stretch before the event? 

CHN: I want to say we have a great staff that works alongside the volunteers at each event. The staff leads by example and takes an “All Hands On Deck” approach during all aspects of the event. We also care for the opinions and concerns of our volunteers and take care to assign them to appropriate tasks. I will say stretching is not a bad idea!   

TKZ: We haven’t come up with a Stop ‘N’ Swap calisthenics warm-up routine yet, but we do make sure to supply everyone with plenty of food and coffee before and after.  I think a big motivator is how much fun Swaps can be.  You never know what you’re going to find at the sorting table, and impromptu fashion shows and ‘what-is-this’ guessing games are common.  Everyone manages to have a good time while helping hundreds of people find a new home for thousands of pounds of good, reusable stuff. 

What is one of your favorite swap moments? 

CHN: At our Upper West Side swap I spoke with a woman who came to gather items for her friends at a nursing home. She said that she had the ability to leave the facility and she knew that the others would have relished the opportunity to attend.  Later I was asked by someone from the neighborhood what items people like to take at swaps and I told her sometimes people come looking for items to help others, such as the woman from the nursing home.  At that point I created a connection between them and the lady who lived in the area left and returned with 6 new walkers, which went back to the residents of the nursing home. 

What do you hope people take away from the experience? 

CHN: I hope they understand that everything they own has value, and even though they may no longer need the item that someone else can use it.  I hope the joy people get from the items they find encourages them to continue to participate and bring their unwanted items so that they can have a second life.

TKZ: Besides a few pounds of reused items, I hope people leave Stop ‘N’ Swaps with a newfound respect for reuse, and a curiosity to find out more about using and wasting less.  There are so many resources to help people figure out ways to repurpose, repair, recycle or reuse anything we might otherwise just waste.  GrowNYC and Stop ‘N’ Swaps are a great place to start!

Union Square Greenmarket Night Market

On Wednesday, July 17, Greenmarket will celebrate its 37th anniversary, and we’ll be partying into the night at Union Square Greenmarket’s first ever night market. In collaboration with Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer’s office, as well as over 15 neighborhood restaurants, the market will offer the same great summer bounty customers have come to love and rely on through the decades, alongside prepared food, live music by the Blue Vipers of Brooklyn and beer courtesy of Brooklyn Brewery.

Watermelon are officially in season, as are green beans, corn, okra, peaches and apricots. Fill your shopping bags and dine on summer fare while reveling under the stars at this Manhattan institution.

It’ll be a party for all ages-- we hope to see you out there!

Union Square Night Market and Birthday Party
Union Square Park - Union Square West and 17th Street
4pm to 8pm

View the full-size flyer below:

P.S. 154 Queens Wins the Big Lift Recycling Contest


This spring, GrowNYC’s Recycling Champions Program held a recycling contest amongst schools in the program to see which school could achieve the highest recycling rates. 22 schools participated in the six-week long "Big Lift"– where schools once weekly weighed the recycling and trash from classrooms, offices, and the cafeteria. With an overall recycling rate of 54%, P.S. 154 in Queens was the grand prize winner! P.S. 154 increased their recycling rate by 268% and reduced the amount of trash by 46%. Other top winners include: P.S. 29 Brooklyn and the High School for Law and Public Service in Manhattan which improved recycling rates by 146% and 88% respectively. P.S. 25 Bronx had a 47% overall recycling rate – 20% for metal, plastic, and cartons.

As a result of their outstanding recycling rate, P.S. 154Q won a school greening package valued at $2,000! The prize included tree mulching, park benches made from recycled plastic and a new school garden. On June 25, students and faculty worked alongside staff from GrowNYC to construct the school garden and assist with tree mulching. For many students, it was their first experience with hands-on landscaping and gardening. Students filled the bed with top soil and planted a number of perennials and herbs that will attract butterflies. In addition to beautifying the school, the 8' x 3' raised bed constructed from recycled lumber, will serve as a valuable educational tool for students to learn about the natural environment.

GrowNYC and Brooklyn Brewery Launch Greenmarket Wheat Beer

GrowNYC and Brooklyn Brewery are excited to announce the launch of Greenmarket Wheat, a beer collaboration between local farmers, malters, and brewers that captures the flavor of regional agriculture in a bottle.  

Greenmarket Wheat is a wheat beer made with raw wheat from North Country Farm in Watertown, NY, Pilsner Barley Malt from Valley Malt in Hadley, MA, and Wildflower Honey from Tremblay Apiaries, Chemung County, NY. 

The idea for Greenmarket Wheat grew from New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2012 Farm Brewery License legislation aimed at expanding the growth of craft breweries and increase demand for locally grown products to brew beer statewide.

"Our Greenmarket Regional Grains Initiative works with regional farmers to devote more acreage to growing grains. Creating partnerships to move their product into the hands of bakers—and now brewers—has helped their businesses scale up production," said Marcel Van Ooyen, executive director of GrowNYC. "Greenmarket Wheat is a collaboration of local growers, millers, malters and brewers who will all benefit from the sale of this new product, not to mention consumers who can purchase a refreshing ale they can feel good supporting. Shoppers come to the Greenmarket to eat local. Now they can drink local. We couldn’t be more thrilled to work with Brooklyn Brewery and our producers to bring local grains into the spotlight."

Greenmarket Wheat will be available for sale by the bottle on Wednesdays and Saturdays at Union Square Greenmarket.

GrowNYC Market Update Radio Show

Did you know that GrowNYC's Greenmarket program had a weekly radio show?

Tune in each Thursday at 1:45 PM to Heritage Radio for the GrowNYC Market Update to hear profiles of our 50+ markets around the city-- including tips like which farmers have the first snap peas, historical and cultural sites near the farmstands and where to grab a special snack in the neighborhood.

Or catch up on past radio shows below!

4/4/13- McCarren Park/Greenpoint Greenmarket    

4/11/13- Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Greenmarket  

4/18/13- Brooklyn Borough Hall Greenmarket   

4/25/13- Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket

5/02/13- 82nd Street Greenmarket

5/09/13- Tribeca Greenmarket

5/15/13- Tucker Square Greenmarket

5/23/13- Windsor Terrace Greenmarket

5/30/13- Forest Hills Greenmarket

Best of the GrowNYC's 2013 Plant Sale

We're happy to say that the GrowNYC's 2013 Annual Spring Plant Sale, in its 28th year, was a huge success!  Over 500 community gardens, schools, block associations, and more received flowers, vegetables, and herbs grown by five local Greenmarket farmers.

We've spent weeks working at our new Bronx pickup site, College Avenue GreenThumb, and Hattie Carthan Community Garden in Brooklyn, helping them rebound from the beatings they took in Hurricane Sandy, and both gardens looked beautiful for the sale.  

Thanks to everyone who came out - gardeners, volunteers, and our hard working Open Space Greening staff!

         

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