When it comes to going green, one of the easiest ways to make a huge impact is to support local small farmers who have committed to growing delicious food in an ethically and ecologically sound manner. The diversity of products and farmers available in New York City’s Greenmarkets is surpassed only by the diversity of its residents! So many options can be overwhelming, so here are some tips for getting started in the fantastic realm of farmers markets. Always remember that farmers love to chat about their products (at every market), so strike up a conversation wherever and whenever you visit.
Union Square Greenmarket – Closest to NYU, New School and Cooper Union, The Union Square farmers market is always a fun, crowded time, and is enhanced by the art market on the other side of the square. Cooking demonstrations (10:30am – 1pm) and kitchen scrap collection for composting are held every day that it’s open (M,W,F,Sa year round), and wine tastings happen every Friday! Be sure to bring a reusable bag with you – you’ll buy more than you planned! That includes everything from goat’s milk ice cream to fresh organic vegetables and herbs, artisan cheeses, cured meats , hand-baked breads and flavored honey! Dairy is more expensive than in the grocery store, but most other things can be found quite cheaply here. Take the 4,5,6,N,Q,R,L to 14th street.
Columbia Greenmarket – Good for the uptown kids, Columbia’s farmer’s market is held year round on Thursday’s and Sunday’s. Stretched between 114th and 115th streets, this sliver of a market carries your usual grocery fare as well as cider, exotic mushrooms, the only local goat products north of 14th street, duck eggs, and fresh fish caught right on long island. They have a baker on site year round, so trade in your Starbucks croissant twice a week for some hand crafted baked goods! If you’re not interested in buying, Sunday’s are best for window shopping, as most of your fellow students will be snug in bed. Take the 1 to 116th street.
Stuyvesent Town Greenmarket – Stuy Town is a haven for downtown university students, creating a unique combination of families and occasionally debauched students. Come to this farmer’s market for a combined “escape from the city” and “neighborhood” feel every Sunday between June and November. Buy your usual weekly stock or try some sheep’s milk and hand pickled vegetables! Or buy some preserves and jams and some artisan bread and have a picnic on the lovely oval lawn, enjoying the absence of traffic noise. Take the L to 1st Avenue.
Rockefeller Center – Comparable to Union Square in it’s subway accessibility, Rock Center’s farmer’s market convenes in the North Plaza Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, but only for 1.5 months between late July and early September. It’s prime time for tourists, but don’t let that scare you away. If you’re busy in midtown, it’s worth stopping by for gelato, whoopie pies, sandwiches or beet chips! They usually have lunch specials, and you might spot Martha Stewart filming a commerical, as I have before! Take the E to 5th & 53d, the B, D, F, V to 47-50 streets Rockefeller Center, or the N, R, W to 49th.
Hester Street Market – The Lower East Side is a wonderful place to visit, and if you’re looking for some fascinating New York History, make your way down (or up!) here from campus when you’re workload is low and your spirit of adventure high. Another seasonal market, Hester is open June – November. Come and exchange recipes with fellow cooking enthusiasts, enjoy cooking demonstrations (better than tv!), and browse your usual supplies, including those from one of my favorite farms, Red Jacket Orchards.
Christine Johnson writes about Urban Green Foods for Big Girls Small Kitchen. She is a senior at NYU passionate about urban and community agriculture, sustainability and cooking delicious, responsible meals!