On August 11, we welcomed the Comptroller, his colleagues and partners from across the state and city to Union Square to take a tour of our flagship market, and announce the release of the report.
As summer reached its peak with tomatoes and corn in abundance at the market, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released a new report announcing the proliferation of farmers markets in New York City and across the state. Since 2000, the number of farmers markets in New York State has more than doubled, and GrowNYC’s Greenmarkets account for 54 of the 138 farmers markets located across the city’s five boroughs.
As the report notes, "Farmers' markets have become increasingly important for sustaining regional farms," and through programs like EBT, Health Bucks, and the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, farmers markets are accessible and affordable for all New Yorkers. Best of all, the revenue that is generated goes directly back into the regional economy.
Get ready for the inaugural Greenmarket Sandwich Smackdown! This fun, kid-friendly event hosted by the Greenmarket Youth Education Project, will take place on Saturday, September 8th at the Union Square Greenmarket, and will be an opportunity for kids ages 6 to 14 years old to show off their sandwich making skills and love for local food! Teams of kids and adults will be working together to shop for local ingredients at the Union Square Greenmarket to create the ultimate market-inspired snack. Kids and adults interested in forming a team to represent an organization, company or individual group can sign up here. View the flyer:
Greenmarket and GreeNYC will be promoting reusable bags with GreeNYC mascot Birdie at the Union Square Greenmarket at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, August 8. Stop by to meet Birdie and make a pledge to reduce the use of plastic. Birdie will reward individuals who pledge to make a difference with a reusable tote bag, perfect for stocking up on local produce. More: New Yorkers consume more than 5 billion plastic bags each year. Plastic bags litter our neighborhoods, depletes global natural resources and contribute to carbon emissions and climate change. Littered plastic bags can easily make their way to storm drains and then into our waterways. GreeNYC is the public education arm of PlaNYC, Mayor Bloomberg’s plan for a greener, greater NYC. GreeNYC works to educate, engage, and mobilize New Yorkers to rise to the challenges of reducing their energy use, living a more sustainable lifestyle, and shrinking the citywide carbon footprint--actions that are critical to achieving the overall PlaNYC goal of reducing NYC’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030 and improving the quality of the city’s environment. View the event flyer.
On June 27, at our annual benefit, Taste of Greenmarket, we honored Women in Agriculture for their contributions to the Greenmarket community and the sustainable agriculture community at large. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, chef Mary Cleaver of the Green Table, and Diane Eggert, director and founder of the Farmers Market Federation of New York, as well as GrowNYC Executive Director Marcel Van Ooyen, Chairman of the Board Bob Kafin and Greenmarket Director Michael Hurwitz, addressed our 80 women farmer honorees, thanking them for their work in the field and the example they set for the next generation of agricultural producers. The room buzzed with Greenmarket farmers, steadfast supporters, and over two dozen chefs and mixologists from around the city who build their menus around the seasonal availability of local products in the market. A dizzying array of dishes featured Grazin’ Angus Acres short ribs, tri-star strawberries from Berried Treasures, Bobolink Dairy cheese, and many other products grown right here in our region by Greenmarket farmers. Many thanks to the guests, honorees, producers, chefs, mixologists, donors and sponsors who made the fifth annual Taste of Greenmarket a screaming success! All proceeds will benefit Greenmarket's Youth Education Project, which provides school tours of markets, meet your farmer classroom visits, and implementation of our Seed to Plate curriculum. Photo booth photos:Event photos:
Join local chefs, jammers, picklers, cookbook authors, and canning experts and enthusiasts as they demonstrate how to preserve the summer harvest by putting up what’s fresh now for enjoyment later in the year. Learn at-home canning techniques and get ready to enjoy the seasonal harvest year-round. All demonstrations are free and open to the public and include a free raffle to win an at-home canning kit. Friday, July 20: 97th Street Greenmarket Canning demonstration with chef and culinary educator, Robin Puskas. 10am - 1pm Saturday, July 21: Socrates Sculpture Park Greenmarket Canning demonstration with chef and culinary educator, Robin Puskas. 10am - 1pm Saturday, August 4: Union Square Greenmarket Canning demonstration and book signing with Laena McCarthy of Anarchy in a Jar. 10am - 1pm Sunday, August 12: 79th Street Greenmarket Canning demonstration with chef and culinary educator, Robin Puskas. 10am - 1pm Saturday, August 18: 82nd Street Greenmarket Canning demonstration with chef and culinary educator, Robin Puskas. 10am - 1pm Thursday, August 19: Columbia University Greenmarket Canning demonstration with chef and culinary educator, Robin Puskas. 10am - 1pm Wednesday, August 22: Dag Hammarskjold Greenmarket Canning demonstration with chef and culinary educator, Robin Puskas. 10am - 1pm Saturday, August 25: Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket Canning demonstration and book signing with Laena McCarthy of Anarchy in a Jar. 10am - 1pm Saturday, September 1: Tucker Square Greenmarket Canning demonstration with chef and culinary educator, Robin Puskas. 10am - 1pm Wednesday, September 5: Union Square Greenmarket Canning demonstration with chef and culinary educator, Robin Puskas. 10am - 1pm Saturday, September 8: Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket Pickling demonstration with Rick Field of Rick’s Picks. 10am - 1pm Wednesday, September 12: Union Square Greenmarket Canning demonstration with chef and culinary educator, Robin Puskas. 10am - 1pm Saturday, September 15: Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket Canning demonstration with chef and culinary educator, Robin Puskas. 10am - 1pm
In preparation for the 2012 Youthmarket season, GrowNYC brought together more than 50 young people from across the city to learn about food, agriculture, and the basics of running a farm stand. Incoming youth-staff read nutrition labels and took a “Fast Food IQ Test” with David Saphire from our Learn It, Grow It, Eat It program and discussed inventory planning, outreach strategies, and small business math with experienced Youthmarket Managers. Youth also sampled the best of the season during a produce tasting that familiarized them with the products they’ll be selling, and they ended the day with a tour of the Union Square Greenmarket, where they chatted with farmers, saw different ways of creating attractive product displays, and learned the secret to keeping vegetables looking fresh on hot summer days. GrowNYC’s 11 Youthmarkets all open this week for the 2012 season, and all of them feature fresh produce grown by Greenmarket farmers. Teens identified by our community partner organizations learn valuable job skills and earn their own money while providing their friends, family, and neighbors with access to fresh, healthy, local foods. Visit our website to find a Youthmarket near you!
Mayor Bloomber (center) and (left to right) Health Commissioner Thomas A. Farley, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Council Member Gale Brewer, Greenmarket Assistant Director Cheryl Huber, Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, and NYC Food Policy Coordinator Kim Kessler, announcing the expansion of Health Bucks for the 2012 season on July 2 in the Union Square Greenmarket.
On Monday, July 2, GrowNYC was thrilled to host Mayor Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and a host of public officials to the Union Square Greenmarket to announce the expansion of Health Bucks. For the first time ever, these $2 incentive coupons (awarded when EBT customers spend $5 in the market) can be spent at ALL farmers markets across the city, including GrowNYC’s 54 Greenmarkets, increasing the affordability of the healthiest, freshest food the region has to offer. View a map of farmers’ markets around the city where Health Bucks will be available. Since GrowNYC's EBT program launched, sales made with food stamp benefits at our Greenmarkets have grown from $1,000 in 2005 to $640,000 in 2011. This summer all of our markets will offer Health Bucks, incentivizing the purchase of fresh, locally grown products helps which in turn help curb diet related disease. "Health Bucks make the farmers market more affordable than the grocery store," said a 97th St Greenmarket customer. In our 2012 season at Greenmarkets across the city, $196,000 in Health Bucks will be available to city residents who are in need of assistance. Customers will be able to provide their families with fresh fruits and vegetables, and our regional farmers will benefit from this stream of revenue. It’s a win-win, upstate and down. Read the official press release
Since 2010, Greenmarket has required its bakers to use at least 15% local flour in their breads and baked goods. Why? To make sure Greenmarket bakers are as much a part of local agriculture as Greenmarket farmers. The great news is that, since then, bakers have incorporated increasing amounts of locally-grown grains into their products. Greenmarket has helped by supporting grain farmers; creating connections to build processing infrastructure like mills, malt houses, and distilleries; and hosting tastings and other events to get customers excited about local grains. Greenmarket bakers now use an average of 50% local flour. With so many reasons to source local grains, this number will continue to grow! 15 Reasons to Eat Locally Grown Grain 1. Local grains taste better. Farmers grow a diverse variety of wheat and other grains, and these products travel a more direct path from the field to your pantry. Without the conventional additives, local grains have more interesting flavor profiles and taste fresher. 2. Local grains have more character. From their behavior in the bowl to their nutritional value, local grains are “alive”, making them more fun to work with and better for your body. 3. Local grains build healthy soils. Growing grains can prevent soil erosion and add organic matter to soils, building their fertility. In other words: Local grains help support the local vegetables we love! 4. Supporting local grains rebuilds regional food systems and the regional economy. In addition to the on-farm jobs they support, local grains require processing, storage, and distribution. This means more regional-scale infrastructure and jobs in these facilities. It also paves the way to create other regional food infrastructure for products like meat, pickled and processed goods, and more. 5. Nothing makes truly “artisan” bread like truly artisan grains. Bakers using regional grains are constantly innovating to celebrate the diverse flavors and characteristics of local grains, creating a richer array of products. 6. If eating emmer makes you sexy, eating einkorn makes you even sexier. Need we say more? 7. Local grains increase the diversity of products farmers can grow. This makes their businesses stronger and more resilient. It also makes local ecology more resilient by increasing biodiversity. 8. Greenmarket farmers grow these products really, really well. They do magic with tomatoes; imagine what they can do with spelt. 9. You shouldn’t have to go to Brighton Beach to get good buckwheat and rye bread. 10. Heritage corn makes better polenta, better tortillas, and better bourbon. 11. You can cook it, bake it, brew it AND distill it. 12. Local grains are traceable. No GMOs. No secrets. Just ask your farmer. 13. “Warthog” is fun to say. Our farmers love it for its beautiful agronomic traits. Our bakers love it for its rich flavor. We just like the way it sounds. 14. Because the “staff of life” should be local, too. 15. Bread is agriculture! And so is beer, whiskey, cake, and granola.
In 2010, after years of conversations with its bakers and farmers, Greenmarket implemented a rule requiring its bakers to source at least 15% of the flour they used from local farms and mills. As an organization which seeks to strengthen regional agriculture, Greenmarket wanted to ensure that all of its producers were in support of this mission. On the other hand, much of the infrastructure to grow and process grains in the Northeast had been lost throughout the decades. By implementing the 15% local flour rule, Greenmarket was asking its bakers to reflect the organization’s mission in their business models, while recognizing the inherent challenges that sourcing local flour could create. Now, two years later, Greenmarket is proud to announce that its bakers use an average of 50% local flour in their baked goods. New infrastructure has been added to the Northeast’s grain-shed, and this sector of the food system continues to grow. To highlight the success of this partnership between Greenmarket and its bakers, over the next few months Greenmarket will be sharing regular installments in our Bread is Agriculture series. Look out for interviews with bakers on the GrowNYC blog; Baked Good of the Week features on Facebook; and literature at the info booth at our markets, including 15 Reasons to Eat Local Grain.
Marcel Van Ooyen, Executive Director of GrowNYC, welcomes Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and fellow anti-hunger advocates to Union Square.
On Monday, the Union Square Greenmarket hosted New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Marcel Van Ooyen, executive director of GrowNYC, as well as anti-hunger advocates including chef Tom Coliccio and Joel Berg, executive director of New York City Coalition Against Hunger. The Senator announced the introduction of her proposed amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill, challenging the $4.5 billion in cuts to SNAP (Food Stamps) over the next ten years.
"This Farm Bill is much more than a set of esoteric numbers. It’s very much about the decisions we are making regarding economic growth, regarding our agriculture industries, and the moral obligation we have to our families that are at risk," said Senator Gillibrand. "Food stamps are an extraordinary investment because for every dollar that you put into the SNAP program, you get out $1.71. Under the current bill, families in New York will lose about $90 a month in their food stamps, which means in the third week of the month, many families’ children will go to school hungry. It also means less food on a kitchen table for children. I have very grave concerns about what that says about us, and what we’re going to do about it."
As Greenmarket shoppers know, Food Stamps are a critical component of GrowNYC's Greenmarket program. 90% of our markets accept EBT/Food Stamps, ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to healthy local food, and these dollars provide an important revenue source for Greenmarket farmers. Since 2007, Greenmarkets around the city have seen a steady increase in sales made at market with Electronic Benefit Transfer cards.
"Over the course of the last five years, GrowNYC's EBT initiative has resulted in $1.53 million in revenue to farmers, generating an estimated $2.8 million of regional economic activity according to the USDA," said Marcel Van Ooyen, Executive Director of GrowNYC. "The exponential growth of EBT dollars spent at our Greenmarkets since 2007 demonstrates an ever increasing demand from all New Yorkers for fresh, healthy food. By providing access to the freshest food available, the food stamp at farmers market program plays a major role in curbing diet related disease, and ensures a healthier lifestyle for all citizens while simultaneously supporting regional agriculture. The proposed cut to the food stamp program would mean a devastating loss to farmers, as well as the families who need this assistance the most."
Read the full press release from the event, and watch the video below of Senator Gillibrand as she introduced her amendment on the Senate floor yesterday.