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 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.  

9/2/16: An Antidote to "Get Big or Get Out" by Gabrielle Langholtz
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


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