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Sunset Park goes green with first ever Sixth Avenue Greenmarket

Sunset Park finally goes green.

On Saturday, July 14, GrowNYC unveiled its newest Greenmarket, this time in Sunset Park at Sixth Avenue and 44th Street.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at which Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, members of the Friends of Sunset Park, representatives of Grow NYC, farmers and more were in attendance to celebrate the opening of the long awaited market that will provide fun, food-based activities in Spanish and English for children through the Farmers Markets for Kids program, and where residents can mingle while procuring a variety of locally grown produce, eggs, orchard fruit, honey, breads and pastries.

Menchaca was thrilled.

“At a time when so many forces are working to tear communities apart, these Greenmarkets bring them together and strengthen them,” he said. “What makes Greenmarkets so impactful is that they not only create access to fresh, healthy and affordable food, but also provide educational programs for children to teach healthy lifestyles, and train local residents to grow their own food. A few of the participants at the Greenmarket are actually local farmers who were trained through GrowNYCs programs. I’ve already heard incredibly positive reactions from the community. My focus has always been on finding ways to create more spaces for the community to mingle and break bread together.”

Maria Roca, founder of Friends of Sunset Park, had been advocating for a Greenmarket — which she said was really needed in the area — for over 20 years.

“We have high rates of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, asthma,” she said. “If there’s a place that needs access to fresh food or food that’s organic as possible, it’s a neighborhood like Sunset Park.” Thanks in part to her advocacy, a Greenmarket opened on Fourth Avenue between 59 and 60th Streets in 2001. However, it wasn’t placed to serve the entire neighborhood.

“Then we said, what about the northeast end of the neighborhood?” she recalled. “Because of the layout of the neighborhood, it’s difficult to get to.”

Nonetheless, said Roca, “There was pushback from people. But we persevered and never let go of the idea. Fast forward to 2017 and the energies began to come together. It wasn’t one person or the Friends of Sunset Park. It was an energy of people who know and talk to each other and are on same page.”

After the ribbon cutting, the Jazz Foundation performed for attendees, who showed up in droves.

“Friends of Sunset Park is excited beyond words,” Roca added. “This has been on the list on what was needed and wanted in the neighborhood for everyone, regardless of their demographic. And proof is the attendance on Saturday. Everyone was there shopping. Every face you can imagine. Every language spoken among the patrons. So far, it’s been a huge success and we’re looking forward to continued growth of the market and other activities around the market such as entertainment and education, so it is a great destination.”

The list of farmers includes: Angel Family Farm Vegetables,from Orange County, N.Y.; Bakers Bounty Breads & Pastries from Union County, N.J.; Conuco Farms Vegetables from Ulster County, N.Y.; Evolutionary Organics Certified Naturally Grown Vegetables from Ulster County, N.Y.; Project Eats Vegetables from Kings County and New York County, N.Y.; Q Farms Pasture-Raised Meat and Poultry from Litchfield County, Conn.; R & R Produce LLC Vegetables from Orange County, N.Y.; and Toigo Orchards from Cumberland County, Penn.

The Greenmarket will be open Saturdays, July 7 – November 17 from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. For more information, visit www.grownyc.org/6aveSunsetParkGreenmarket.

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