Adaptive Farms: Resilient Tables

April 4, 2017

GrowNYC staffer Maria Rojas of Greenmarket's FARMroots program gave this incredible speech at the United Nations Development Program's Adaptive Farms: Resilient Tables event on April 3, 2017. 

My last four years of work at GrowNYC have been dedicated to preserving family farms, strengthening the local foodshed, and keeping our rich agricultural land in production. I first became interested in farming at my grandparents’ farm in Colombia. There I was exposed to the beauty and the hardship of farming. Before I was born, a volcano had swept through my family’s town and destroyed everything my grandparents had built -their home, their friends, their farm. They, like other farmers before them, chose to rebuild and it was this thriving farm where I spent my days.

Farmers have always been on the frontlines of nature and political whim. They hold the distinction of being highly vulnerable to climate change and at the same time offering a solution to the problem.

Despite these and many other challenges farmers remain stewards of the land, feed others, and build communities around them.

Over the past 120 years there has been a 2.4-degree increase in average temperatures in the Northeast. We have added 10 more frost free days to the season and have had to redraw our hardiness zone map to reflect that winters are now warmer that they used to be. Spring’s arrival is happening 4-13 days earlier, and we have had a 5-inch increase in precipitation, yet last year we had a severe drought in many parts of the state. The warmer winters might seem like a benefit to many, but not to farmers who lost 40-60 percent of their apples and almost 100 percent of their peaches and plums last year due to unprecedented temperature fluctuations. The average New Yorker would not be able to tell you that frost now comes 10 days later than normal, but a farmer would!

These changes are not insignificant and, unfortunately they are only the beginning of a wave of high impact deviations that the changing climate is set to bring. With it we can also expect changes in pest and weed pressure andplant and animal disease, as well as variations in crop yields. It is, by and large, a bleak picture as farming is set to become increasingly harder as our climate crisis worsens.

Farmers, although they operate as individual businesses, make up the agricultural foodshed upon which we rely on every day--increasingly so in times of disaster. When Hurricane Sandy hit New York in 2012, it was this network of farmers that got into the hard-hit places and provided much needed food relief to the families that had been impacted. In the days following the storm, groceries stores were empty or closed but the farmers’ markets were up and running within 72 hours. The mobile terminals at the market used for processing EBT were some of the few places a family on a limited income could use their SNAP benefits. Farmers brought in 180,000 lbs of food which with the help of volunteer organizations was turned into hot meals. They brought not only food but also much needed fuel to help power up our trucks to make last mile deliveries to New Yorkers in need.

This is not a one-way relationship. When storms and other disasters have affected farmers, the community that has built around them has not stood by the wayside. In 2011, when Hurricane Irene swept through the northeast and flooded many of our farmers’ fields, New Yorkers came together to help them rebuild. In one-month, Greenmarket shoppers raised $135,000 that was then redistributed to 33 of the hardest hit farms. These small grants helped farmers keep the lights on, the fuel running, and jump start the rebuilding process.

The community that forms around local food is at the core of what makes the NYC foodshed resilient. The exchange of support and ideas and the determination to thrive together is the truest definition of community. At the markets, farmers bring with them not only produce, meat, cheese, and cider, but also news of the weather--of how their soil responded to last week’s rain event. They bring news of how their rural communities are being impacted by policy. They tell tales of what the farm was like when it started in 1921. In return, a NYC shopper originally from the Dominican Republic might bring a farmer some seeds of cilantro macho for the farmer to try, or tell the farmer of how her family depended on moringa in times of drought. A few might begin volunteering at the farm on weekends hoping to one day leave the city life to try their hand at farming themselves. This exchange is as rich as the soil the farmers grow on, and it is key to the existence of each. The farmers' market is a catalyst for community connection and for reconnecting with food that is not only good for us but also for the planet.

Tonight’s event is another model for how the building of communities and the exchange of ideas is critical to our survival in the face of a changing climate. The United States, having caused a disproportionate amount of emissions to the rest of the world, has a moral responsibility to transfer wealth, knowledge, and technology to developing countries. The United States also has a moral responsibility to listen to and learn from the climate change adaptation projects represented tonight and from farmers across the world who have always been the stewards of the land.

When I think about sustainability and food security, I think about the people that make up these systems. And as people who eat, we all do! I think of the neural-like system of influence traveling up and down the Hudson Valley--much like neurons, those connections are what forces us to grow, to change, and to adapt. And as we reinforce those pathways and human connections, we can only become ever more resilient.

Red Jacket Orchards Leaving Greenmarket

March 12, 2017
Posted in Greenmarket

A message from Red Jacket Orchards -- 

After more than 25 years with GrowNYC, Red Jacket Orchards will no longer be at the weekly Greenmarkets. We are humbled and immensely grateful for the support of our NYC customers—you’ve stood by us at every step, including our challenges with climate issues and crop loss, and we thank you. We are also deeply grateful to GrowNYC and their staff, as well as our own staff at the Greenmarkets.

It is your fierce commitment to local producers that sets the tone for purposeful consuming, and we encourage you to support the local purveyors at the Greenmarkets of NYC. For information about other farms at your market, visit GrowNYC. And of course, you will always be able to buy our fresh fruits and delicious cold pressed juices at stores in your community.

Join the April Plastic Cleanse!

March 2, 2017

Help Greenmarket go plastic-free by bringing your own bags while shopping in the markets. New Yorkers dispose of 9.37 billion carryout bags a year, most of which are not recycled. Made from petroleum, plastic bags are contributing to environmental degradation around the world, clogging our oceans, and are an enormous waste of money. Pledge to bring your bags when shopping at Greenmarkets and help us go plastic-free! 

Tips for going plastic-free: 

1. Take the GreeNYC Pledge to bring your own mugs, water bottles, shopping bags and receive a free mug, bottle, or bag to get you started. 

2. Bring a variety of bags. One sturdy, large canvas bag and a few sizes of smaller reusable bags (canvas, mesh, cotton, ect). 

3. If you plan on buying fish, bring a reusable container, like a glass container with a plastic cover. Bring a cooler, lunch bag to store frozen or fresh meat.

4. Buy loaves of bread and instead of taking paper bag/plastic bag, store bread in a cotton bag and slice at home.

5. Compost! Close the loop by collecting your food scraps and dropping them off at our compost sites at most Greenmarkets. Collect your food scraps in an airtight container or a paper bag. Store your food scraps in the freezer to avoid unwanted smells.

6. If you forget to BYOB, you can buy reusable produce bags at the Market Information Tent. 

7. Reduce before you reuse or recycle. It costs money and energy to produce and recycle plastic bags. 

8. Say no thank you if you are offered a plastic bag - you brought your tote so you don't need one! 

9. Go #foamfree and quit using styrofoam for good. Learn more here

Join us for these additional special events and activities to help celebrate the April Plastic Cleanse!

Bag Sales at all Greenmarkets
Canvas tote bags and reusable produce bags will be for sale at most Greenmarkets and availble online. Purchase a starter kit of 1 canvas tote and 4 reusable produce bags for just $15!

GreeNYC at Greenmarkets 
April 3: Union Square Greenmarket 
April 6: Brooklyn Borough Hall Greenmarket 

Plastic Bag Buy Back! 
April 8 & 15: Union Square Greenmarket 
Return your clean/dry and non-biodegradable/compostable plastic bags and receive 5 cents per bag! Participants will participate in a short survey about recycling habits. 

Kathleen Merrigan at Project Farmhouse

February 20, 2017

On Monday, February 13th, in an event co-hosted with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Pace Law School, GrowNYC’s Project Farmhouse welcomed Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, Executive Director of Sustainability at the George Washington University and former Deputy Secretary of the USDA, in a conversation about the evolution of food law and policy.

It was an educational and enlightening evening, with a conversation that included everything from the current state of American politics (in relation to food and farming) to crop insurance to the upcoming 2018 Farm Bill.

Watch the event in its entirety here:

Your Greenmarkets

January 19, 2017

If you're like us then you can't wait to take a break from the world and visit a market this weekend to give yourself an opportunity to breathe deep, take in all of the sights, smells, sounds, and flavors, and visit with your neighbors and farmers. We were recently reminded of a Wendell Berry quote that perfectly encapsulates our market communities. 

"A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other's lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves." - Wendell Berry 

All of Greenmarket's staff is going to the market this weekend...some of us just have to work, but all of us feel the pull to get out there. Here are our reasons and we'd love to hear yours

"Because the farmers market is where I go when I want to see my neighbors and be with my friends, whether to commiserate or celebrate."

"I'm going to the farmers market this weekend to be surrounded by my friends and my community and good food!" 

"Because our work - connecting urban and rural economies and communities - is particularly vital and meaningful right now."  

"Because I can ask the farmers questions."

“Because that’s where the food is.”

“Because my team – Go Steelers! – is in the AFC Championship and I need to pick up something to braise.” 

“Fuel the body, fight the power”

"Even when I'm not at work, I still visit my closest neighborhood Greenmarket because my local Greenmarket is where I feel connected to my community and neighbors. It's a place where we can convene around good food, talk recipes, and get excited for what we're about to cook."

"Because I want to connect with people who grow our food." 

"To get a new recipe."

"Because the brisk 20 mintue walk there is enough time to breath, clear my head and think about what I want to eat that week, but still leave room to get inspired if I see an ingredient I hadn't considered. And my compost bag is really full, gotta drop it off."   

"Because I wanna see what they’ll be cooking up at the market info tent!"

Greenmarket Holiday Schedule Changes

December 23, 2016
Posted in Greenmarket | Tagged greenmarket, holiday

There are no upcoming holiday schedule changes for 2017.

The Union Square Greenmarket will be OPEN on Mondays, January 16th (Martin Luther King Jr. Day) and February 20th (President's Day).

Curl a Rutabaga in Union Square!

November 10, 2016
Posted in Greenmarket | Tagged greenmarket

Join us for Greenmarket's First Annual Rutabaga Curling Competition! 

Union Square Greenmarket 
Union Square Park - North End 
Friday, December 9th
12pm - 3pm

This event is during the Union Square Friday Greenmarket and is free and open to the public for attending, viewing & cheering.

Sign up for the VIEWER - Rutabaga Curling Competition ticket if you want to attend but not participate. 
Sign up for the PARTICIPANT - Rutabaga Curling Competition ticket to enter in as a contestant (also free, but only 20 spots!). 

Attendee and Participant Tickets Here!
 

PARTICIPANT INFO

The court is approximately 55' long, 8' wide, lined with wooden planks and ends with one big circular target. Contestants are divided into sections (three players per section). The top finisher in each section qualifies for Round Two and the top finishers from that round qualify for the Championship Round. The top two contestants in the championship round are awarded gold and silver, along with a small prize from the market and, of course, eternal bragging rights. Each contestant gets one roll per round. Once a rutabaga has been thrown it shall lay on the field of play until all other contestants in that section have rolled. Thrown rutabagas are subject to being knocked by subsequent rolls. 

Participants can BYOR (Bring Your Own Rutabaga), but we will also have some available for use. 

Participation is free, but if you sign up you as a participant you are commited so please be there! 

Questions? Contact Liz at lcarollo@grownyc.org

Donate A Bag this Thanksgiving

November 8, 2016
Posted in Greenmarket

Greenmarket is partnering with City Harvest, Food Bank for New York City and other local food rescue organizations to help feed New York City's hungry men, women, and children this Thanksgiving. 

At the markets listed below, buy an extra bag of fresh produce while you shop and donate it at the Market Information tent. 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 


Friday, November 18th
Union Square Greenmarket

Saturday, November 19th 
Union Square Greenmarket 
Ft. Greene Greenmarket
Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket
Abingdon Square Greenmarket
Tribeca Greenmarket

Sunday, November 20th
79th Street Greenmarket 

Tuesday, November 22nd
St. Mark's Church Greenmarket

Wednesday, November 23rd
Dag Hammarskjold Greenmarket
CIty Hall Greenmarket 
 

 

 

Turkey Buying Guide 2016

October 31, 2016
Posted in Greenmarket | Tagged TURKEY, thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just around the corner—November 24th, to be exact—and turkey orders are already filling fast! Find out below what local farms are bringing pasture-raised Thanksgiving turkeys to your neighborhood Greenmarket.

Dipaola Turkey

Breed: Broad Breasted White (parts and sausage also available)
Where to order: Online at www.dipaolaturkeyfarm.com/special-orders/
Where to pick up: 

79th Street Sunday, 11/20
97th Street Friday, 11/23 

Abingdon Square Saturday, 11/19
Brooklyn Borough Hall Saturday, 11/19
Carroll Gardens Sunday, 11/20
Columbia Sunday, 11/20
Cortelyou Sunday, 11/20
Forest Hills, 11/20
Fort Greene Saturday, 11/19
Grand Army Plaza Saturday, 11/19 

Greenpoint Saturday, 11/19
Inwood Saturday, 11/19
Jackson Heights Sunday, 11/20
St. George Saturday, 11/19
Stuyvesant Town Sunday, 11/20
Tribeca Saturday, 11/19
Union Square Wednesday, 11/23

† Market open Wednesday before Thanksgiving for pick-ups.

Quattros Game Farm

Breeds: New Holland White, Bourbon Red, Wild 
Where and how to order: Union Square Greenmarket Saturdays or call the farm store at 845.635.2018
Where and when to pick up: Union Square Greenmarket on Saturday, 11/19 or Wednesday, 11/23
www.quattrosfarm.com

Roxbury Mountain Maple 

Breeds: Dutch Broad Breasted White 
Where and how to order: Union Square Greenmarket Monday and Wednesday or Columbia Greenamarket Thursday, via their website or call the farm store at 607.422.0059
Where and when to pick up: Union Square Greenmarket on Monday, 11/21, Union Square Greenmarket Wednesday, 11/23 or Columbia Greenmarket Tuesday, 11/22
www.roxburymountainmaple.com
† Columbia University Market open Tuesday before Thanksgiving for pick-ups.

Tamarack Hollow Farm

Breeds: Broad Breasted Bronze, Bourbon Red
Where and how to order: Union Square Greenmarket Wednesdays or by emailing tamarackhollowfarm@gmail.com
Where and when to pick up: Union Square Greenmarket on Wednesday, 11/23
tamarackhollowfarm.com/thanksgiving-turkey

Violet Hill Farm

Breed: Broad Breasted White & Black
Where and how to order: Union Square Greenmarket Saturdays, McCarren Park/Greenpoint Saturdays, or online at www.violethillfarm.com/turkey-2016
Where and when to pick up: Union Square Greenmarket or McCarren Park/Greenpoint Greenmarket on Saturday, 11/19 or Union Square Greenmarket Wednesday, 11/23
www.violethillfarm.com

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. 

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