My Visit to the Union Square Greenmarket

23 Sep

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Hello there!

I had such a blast today at the Union Square Greenmarket, the flagship greenmarket and one of 50 markets in the city! It was warmer than your typical September day, but the fall weather should arrive soon. I must say that even at 9AM, Union Square was bustling!

Tara Laruffa, Union Square Publicity Programmer, introduced me to some fantastic farmers. I met with 1 winery and 3 producers carrying seasonal, locally grown food. Many of these producers also carried ingredients that align with the upcoming “Eat Drink Local Weekevent, an 11-day celebration of NY State’s food chain. From Farmer Tom’s Ronnybrook Farms (Tuesday, 10/5: Dairy) to Farmer Andrew’s Local Honey, to Farmer Morse’s Windfall Farms and Patrice’s Chateau Renaissance Wine (Thursday, 9/30: Concord grapes) stands, the experiences and perspectives of these New York farmers taught me a great deal about the daily issues they face along with the subject of regional vs. urban agriculture in the emergence of the  farm-to-table movement.

As I wandered around the market for some goodies, I stumbled on David Graves’ raspberry jam on a cracker – it tasted exactly like raspberries and really captured the essence of summer, all in a jar! More information can be found at http://www.bee-man.com/ or http://www.berkshireberries.com/. I also tried some maple walnut granola from Hawthorne Valley Farm Greenmarket in Ghent, NY. More information can be found at http://hawthornevalleyfarmgreenmarket.blogspot.com/.

As Tara, the I LOVE NEW YORK team, and I scooted our way from interviews to the cooking demo to the composting station, the sensation spurred by the floating aromas of garlic and other market goods stimulated not just our hungry bellies but also our minds as we tried to figure out what dishes we could create at home.

These thoughts turned into action – I had the pleasure of meeting with Eat Drink Local Chef Matthew Weingarten of Inside Park at St. Bart’s, where I learned about his commitment to responsibly-sourced ingredients, seasonality and sustainable practices, such as canning. I was also able to assist him with his recipe “Autumn Root Sauté with Purslane and Honey.”  I’d never even heard of purslane before today, so it was really exciting to learn about this highly nutritious vegetable and just work with something new! We were working with available, seasonal ingredients, so while I tore up some purslane into a bowl, Chef Matt peeled and shredded some celery root, red kuri squash, and a small red onion. The crowd looked on as he added some aged sherry vinegar from Patrice’s wine stand, as well as some cracked fresh coriander, mustard seed, olive oil, a drizzle of local honey from Andrew’s honey farm, and some mixed chopped herbs. Chef Matt worked his magic and this extraordinarily simple dish was consumed in minutes! If you want to learn more about Eat Drink Local Week, visit http://www.ediblemanhattan.com/events/eat-drink-local-week/.

One of my favorite things about the Greenmarket is being exposed to the variety of vegetables, fruits, and other goodies from NY State that continue to inspire and encourage me to experiment with different flavors and introducing some fun, funky dishes to friends and family. With much anticipation, I met Michael Hurwitz, Director of the Greenmarket Program, and asked him about the upcoming event “Taste of the Greenmarket,” where I learned that this is where foodies can celebrate [and consume!] Greenmarket-inspired dishes and seasonal cocktails. These creations will be launched by 30 of New York’s most renowned chefs and mixologists, and proceeds will go to the Greenmarket Youth Education Project, which connects thousands of New York City schoolchildren in grades K-12 with Greenmarkets, farmers and chefs each year. To learn more, visit http://www.grownyc.org/TasteofGreenmarket2010.

After leaving the cooking station with some collected vegetable scraps in a crate, I headed over to the Lower East Side Ecology Center’s compost station and had a chance to talk about the importance of composting in NYC with Aurelia, a LESEC employee. For some residents who don’t have the luxury to keep an compost bin at home or in the office, LESEC provides an alternative solution to dealing with food waste issues – a free drop-off compost service at Union Square! All you have to do is carry your scraps and deposit them into the gray bins, where LESEC takes them away – the finished product is sold 3 months later. LESEC also manages the NYC Compost Project in Manhattan, a compost education program, and leads the “Master Composter Training Program.” To learn more about the organization, visit http://www.lesecologycenter.org/.

Thanks to the efforts of GrowNYC, the unique relationship between farmers and city residents has made it possible for these interactions to catalyze “new culinary trends and influence chefs and eaters in one of the culinary capitals in the world.” As part of I LOVE NEW YORK’s Greenheart program, it is important for us to put a spotlight on our farmers who provide us with fresh, nutritious foods for us to leave lighter footprints and to work together to continue making NY greener for generations to come.

Video footage will be up soon, so stay tuned!

Special thanks to:

Michael Hurwitz, Director, Greenmarket, a program of GrowNYC
Tara LaRuffa, Union Square Publicity Programmer, Greenmarket, a program of GrowNYC
Ethan Gallagher, EBT Greenmarket Manager
Executive Chef Matthew Weingarten, Inside Park at St. Bart’s
Rachel, Inside Park at St. Bart’s Pastry Chef
Patrice DeMay, Chateau Renaissance
Tom Toigo, Ronnybrook Farms
Andrew Cote, Andrew’s Local Honey
Morse Pitts, Windfall Farms
Aurelia Kaelin, LESEC
David Graves, Berkshire Berries

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One Response to “My Visit to the Union Square Greenmarket”

  1. greenestnyer2010 September 30, 2010 at 6:23 am #

    FYI, http://www.ittakesaregion.org/index.html

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