Volume 76, Number 9 | July 19 - 25, 2006

Villager photos by Robert Kreizel

Congressmember Nydia Velazquez performed the zucchini cutting opening ceremony as, to her right, State Senator Martin Connor and Councilmember Rosie Mendez looked on.

New Greenmarket sprouts up on the Lower East Side

By Janet Kwon

A ceremonial squash cutting opened the first day of a new Greenmarket location on Orchard St. between Broome and Delancey Sts. on Sun. July 9. The Orchard St. market is one of 10 new Greenmarket locations that debuted this summer and the very first on the Lower East Side.

While Congressmember Nydia Velazquez had the honors of carving the zucchini, several other elected officials joined her at the microphone to share their enthusiasm for the new market location. Among those attending the opening were State Senator Martin Connor, Councilmember Rosie Mendez, Assemblymember Sylvia Friedman and Susan Stetzer, district manager of Community Board 3.

Velazquez, who is a ranking member of the House Small Business Committee, stressed the importance of linking farmers to the urban community, and said that farmers’ markets play a role in building that bridge.

“Here we are, the community is benefiting and at the same time, we’re helping small farmers of Upstate New York…. We need to support our local economy,” she said.

Many present applauded Velazquez for securing the funding, approximately $100,000, from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to open the new market location.

Mendez emphasized the significance of the Orchard St. location.

“Many decades, there were pushcarts here,” she said. “So it’s great now that we’re going to have tables with fresh foods delivering, as they did decades ago, foods to the masses.”

Spanning just one block, six stands featuring meats, cheeses, vegetables, fruits, baked goods and wine lined up in true Greenmarket fashion, complete with wide overhead tents, free samples and a cooking demonstration by a chef from a local restaurant. Chef Julie Taras from the Orchard St. restaurant Little Giant was sautéing spring onions with lemon salt, as a growing crowd savored the earthy aromas wafting from her sizzling pan.

A steady stream of local residents weaved in and out of the one block food fair from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Jenny Weaver, an Allen St. resident, noted that instead of her usual 30-minute commute to the Union Square Greenmarket, she now can get to the new Orchard St. location in minutes.

Similarly, George Diaz, who lives near Seward Park, said that shopping at the Greenmarket is much more convenient now that a branch has opened on the Lower East Side.

“We’ll probably buy something here every week,” Diaz said.

Anlo Yu, a salesperson with Breezy Hill Orchard and Cider Mill, said that their stand in Union Square is a lot more hectic, but the new location has its own charms.

“It’s wonderful having a different crowd — it seems more artsy,” Yu said.

Not only is the crowd different, the prices are also slightly different as well. Yu said that Breezy Hill has lowered the prices of most of their items by 50 cents in order to keep up with the competitive prices of nearby Chinatown.

Since this is the first Greenmarket location to open in the neighborhood, the Lower East Side Business Improvement District collaborated with Greenmarket to publicize and organize the weekly market.

“We’re very excited to offer our services to get the best available produce and goods for our constituents,” said Dara Lehon, the BID’s acting executive director.

Also, the Cornell University Cooperative Extension is working in collaboration with the BID to spearhead a paid internship program in which youths, recruited from local nonprofit organizations, would work side by side with the farmers at the markets to learn about the various aspects of farming, horticulture and product marketing.

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