New Leaf New York: From Pharma to Farm

Jay Dines, Eli Zabar bug locals
July 30, 2008, 1:26 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,
Courtesy New York Times

Courtesy New York Times

Jay Dines, owner of Dines Farms, used to sell his meat at several Greenmarkets throughout the city.  I know because I used to see his stall at the Fort Greene market on Saturday mornings.   Greenmarket has a very strict policy — one I just learned about this past Saturday, when I attended a training session for prospective Greenmarket volunteers — that states farmers must sell only that which they grow, raise, or make themselves, and if they’re making prepared food, their ingredients must be sourced locally.

Nina Planck, who used to be Greenmarket’s director, visited the farm in 2003 and raised some serious concerns about the difference between what he sold and what was present on the farm.  Dines says he sent some of his livestock to other farms to be raised when he was injured and could not build winter housing for his animals; other Greenmarket vendors say his practices hurt their credibility. 

No answer from Greenmarket, however, on why it took nearly five years to bar Dines from their markets.  Dines was selling his goods at the Fort Greene Flea Market recently, but its organizers asked him to leave after learning of his history with Greenmarket. I feel bad for Dines, because I know the theory of the producer-only rule is different than the reality; but as Bob Lewis, one of the Greenmarket founders back in 1976, says, “…the success of Greenmarket demonstrates that a producer-only policy is viable in New York.  Many farms have diversified themselves while meeting the Greenmarket’s rules.”

Out on Long Island, farmers have mixed feelings about the recent sale of land where the Amagansett Farmers Market used to take place.  Though the deal protects the land from development, it has been subleased to Eli Zabar, owner of Eli’s Manhattan, E.A.T., Vinegar Factory, and the restaurant Taste, and whose brothers own Zabar’s Deli on the Upper West Side.

Locals are concerned that Zabar’s commercial history, which includes artisanal breads and specialty goods from far-flung locales, will dampen the local food spirit of the plot.  However, Zabar says he will switch out many of his imported deli goods for local, seasonal produce and other foods of the East End.  It remains to be seen whether the locals will embrace this approach, but my guess is that after some grumbling, most people will return to the spot.

Farmer Deals with Drop in Business and Credibility [New York Times]

A Farm, and Its Market, Preserved [New York Times]


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