Daily Archives: March 24, 2014

Union Square Greenmarket – a cornucopia of delights

When my work group moved from our midtown office to the downtown office, one of the things I really missed was the once a week lunch time walk to the Union Square Greenmarket. Now that I am back at the midtown office (Yay!) and the weather is turning reasonably walkable, that is the first place I chose to walk to!
 
It is an amazing place, specially for a food-loving person like me. The open air market is held four times a week – Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8 AM to 6 PM – in a three-square-block area that is part of the Union Square Park, along Broadway at 14th street. Though it is a year round market, the tempo varies according to the season. Even now, when It is just picking up pace after a long long winter, the variety of stuff available is great. But just wait for a couple of weeks… man, the bounty of nature floods the place with such abundance!

A cloudy downcast day at Union Square Greenmarket

A cloudy downcast day at Union Square Greenmarket

The history of the Union Square Farmer’s Market is an impressive one. The Union Square Park has been in existence since 1839 when it was designated a public place and named Union Place as it was the site of the intersection or union of two major streets.

After the second world war, the park started to deteriorate and had fallen into disrepute by the 1970s, being frequented by drug dealers and similar characters. This kept the general public away from the park, as it was generally considered unsafe.
 
In 1976, a new initiative, the Greenmarket program, was set up in New York city, to promote small scale agriculture by providing a viable market to family farms for their produce, at the same time ensuring that the teeming millions of New York city got access to fresh, nutritious produce delivered directly to their localities.

The Greenmarket program – now called GrowNYC – selected Union Square as the location for its second market in the city, after the one at 59th Street and 2nd Avenue.

And the Union Square Greenmarket began functioning in the parking lot surrounding the park, with 12 farmers. It played an important role in revitalizing the neighbourhood by attracting consumers who valued the quality of the products.

 

Today the Union Square Greenmarket is an upscale market selling high-quality products, all fresh from within truckable distances. On an average, the market receives 250,000 customers per week. More than one thousand varieties of fruits and vegetables can be found during the produce season. Even on a cloudy day recently, with the rain threatening to start falling any minute, there was still a bustling crowd, milling around the many stalls. In addition to the fresh fruits and vegetables, there are stalls selling varieties of plants, herbs and cut flowers.

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Tulip plants…

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Herbs…

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Cut flowers…

A wide variety of baked goods, cheeses, pickles, maple products…

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The whole place is fragrant with the smell of herbs and fresh bread and cookies, it is a pleasure just walking around the place.

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jam-pickles

The number of farms that participate in the Greenmarket has grown to 140 at peak season. A recent addition to the market is the participation from fisheries.

New York is supposed to be a haven for pet dogs; you see the largest number of them here. And no market place can be complete without catering to them. In addition to various food items, here are a bunch of bones for them to chew on…

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Once the weather gets a bit warmer all kinds of arts and crafts stalls will open up, giving the market the looks of a lovely fairground. Can’t wait…

~Ria

24 Mar 2014