On Saturday, May 25, the Bay Ridge Grow NYC Greenmarket celebrated its 12th season grand opening with a fun day that included music, free raffles, prizes and an appropriately green-colored ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Councilmember Justin Brannan, who represents Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst, helped host the event spotlighting one of the few places in the community — in the parking lot of Walgreens on 94th Street and Third Avenue — where residents can find fruits and vegetables fresh from the farm, as well as fresh seafood and baked breads from regional purveyors.
The Greenmarket, dubbed by some “Bay Ridge’s Town Square,” is a place where residents shop, share recipes and catch up with their neighbors while finding some of the freshest fruits and vegetables in the borough. In fact, it is the place to go on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Brannan welcomed the crowd and offered a brief history of how the Greenmarket came to the neighborhood. It all started when he and former City Councilmember Vincent Gentile learned that a number of local supermarkets — including the Key Food located where Walgreens is today — were closing their doors. They came up with the idea of introducing Grow NYC’s Greenmarket to Bay Ridge. “We thought that this parking lot would be an ideal spot,” said Brannan.
Gentile’s team had to approach Walgreens and ask for permission to allow the Greenmarket to set up. “Walgreens wanted to be a good neighbor,” said Gentile, “and agreed to let us partner with them and come into their parking lot every Saturday from May to November.”
This year, Brannan is especially pleased to have a new composting site at the Greenmarket. “Composting is back,” said Brannan. “Stop by and pick up a free bag of organic mulch thanks to Grow NYC and DSNY. Makes a great stocking stuffer,” he added. Brannan also happily posed with Scrappy the compost container.
The vendors who make up the Greenmarket include American Pride Seafood from Suffolk County, New York; Bread Alone from Ulster County, New York; Goodale Farms, which provides dairy, meat and vegetables; Jersey Farms with fruit and vegetables from Hunterdon County, New Jersey; Toigo Orchards from Cumberland County, Pennsylvania; and Wager’s Cider Mill from Yates County, New York.
“This started out because the supermarkets were closing down in the neighborhood,” Brannan told this paper. “We fought to get a Greenmarket and it just stuck. It became a neighborhood tradition and now it’s our little town square where people come every weekend to catch up and hang out.
“This is the only place in the neighborhood where you can get food direct from farmers from around the Tri-State area. So it’s just a very special tradition,” added Brannan.