New Leaf New York: From Pharma to Farm

A beautiful morning, happily spent
August 22, 2008, 12:34 am
Filed under: Metrocropolis | Tags: , , , , , ,

This past Saturday, I enjoyed my first volunteering experience at the Greenmarket at Fort Greene Park.  I attended a mandatory volunteer training session at Grand Army Plaza several weekends ago, and was very surprised to learn that the Fort Greene market had no volunteers at all!  I emailed the market manager as soon as I could, and unfortunately between an Indian wedding and a very profitable stoop sale, it took me a couple of weekends to get started, but I was determined to get out there — somewhat early, even! — and be a happy helper to my neighbors.

I’m a familiar face to some of the farmers and sellers there, as I’ve been a regular visitor to the market for a few years now.  I’m excited to get to know some of them better, especially since I’ve been learning so much in the last couple of weeks about exactly how damn difficult farming can be.  I have immense respect for them and the backbreaking work they do every day just to get delicious food to hungry New Yorkers.

My first task was to pull on my Greenmarket t-shirt and affix my “volunteer” badge.  Tricky!

I heard from one of the farmers that a patron had asked him whether his peaches were frozen.  Apparently, they seemed cold to the touch, and the visitor was puzzled.  The farmer shook his head and wondered how and why anyone would think that peaches would be frozen when it’s peak peach season right now: “If they’re frozen, when were they frozen?  Why would we freeze them?”  He ticked off some other common-sense-less questions from city folk, such as “Do you bleach the brown eggs to get them white?” and “Did you go to high school?”  I chuckled, but of course the underlying realization is that many people remain, sadly, severely disconnected from their food.

Next, my market manager asked me to take some fliers and head down to Myrtle Avenue near some NYCHA housing and a Met grocery store to get the word out about the nearby Greenmarket busting with fresh, local food.  I was met with mostly polite interest, and many people accepted fliers.  I got to answer questions about price comparisons, availability of certain foods and when the Greenmarket was open.

I probably shouldn’t have felt so surprised to find that no one (save a few people) I spoke to about the Greenmarket, situated just two blocks north of them, had any idea it existed.  It’s become such a part of my mindset that I can’t imagine life without a farmer’s market.  I hope my presence got a few people thinking about their food — enough to get them to visit this Saturday!  Many Greenmarkets around the city now take food stamps, EBT and WIC, including those at Fort Greene Park and Grand Army Plaza, and I think it’s vital to make this well known.

When I returned, we started an ice cream food demo.  I wasn’t able to stay for the whole demonstration, as I had some friends who were apartment-hunting in the neighborhood and wanted me to show them around.  The market manager was all set to make peach ice cream, but when I mentioned that we had made blackberry ice cream at home the prior week, she was dead set on blackberry!  The ones she chose were so ripe and juicy that halving them made the cutting board turn purple.

My friends arrived just in time to witness the attendance of Keri Russell, her ridiculously cute baby, and even the baby daddy — a tall, dark, lanky musician type.  While perusing heirloom tomatoes, Keri lifted up the kidlet and playfully chomped on his thigh.  I don’t blame her; I, too, would have been whipped into a frenzy by the freshly picked Green Zebras and Cherokee Purples and mistook her baby for a juicy Solanaceae.

If all this sounds downright exciting to you, please consider becoming a Greenmarket volunteer.

Image courtesy of brookelynn16.


4 Comments so far
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One of the things my friends and I complain about is the lack of good farmer’s markets in the area. It just isn’t profitable to have a small, non-commercial farm down here. You’re extraordinarily lucky and I’m extraordinarily jealous!

PS I love Cherokee Purples like crazy. I eat them at work and my coworkers think I’m insane.

Comment by notaclevername

Thank you thank you thank you! I had no idea there was a farmer’s market so close to where I live. I’m going to check it out.

Comment by The Mayor of Bethville

When I lived in Brooklyn, I had a friend that had never seen a cow. To a native Midwesterner who practically grew up on her grandfather’s farm, this was pretty much unimaginable.

I will never, ever forget the day we took the train out to New Jersey to visit the cows. It remains one of my best memories about NYC. 🙂

Comment by Kaj

updates por favor 😉

Comment by hamburgerhotdog

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