I was a bit shocked to see business as usual today at the triangle that several farmers call home every Thursday and Saturday. Not that you can't find a New York City grocery store opened on the Fourth but since the Upper West Siders who depend on these farms for fresh food didn't take a day off from eating, these hard working farmers were there on the Fourth. Besides they need the money.
One of them asked me to do a favor for the farmers today. I like to think that he asked all of us. The local farmers biggest problem is exposure. Greenmarket NYC like most green market organizers only has so much money for advertising. He asked that I post information in community blogs so more residents know about the fresh food available.
Something else we could all do is get our district council or community board websites to post information about the farms, dates and locations and also what is in season. The more customers that know about these markets, the bigger they will get.
Meet a few of my local green grocers below the fold.
On this day of American Heritage, some people are preserving Heritage Foods. Foods that tell us who and where we are. Another American tradition is preserved at Farmer's Markets, the tradition of communication. Now that is something that is long gone at our corporate supermarkets. You can't even find a manager to complain to, so forget about actually finding out where the food came from.
In Richard Tucker Square you can buy some morning donuts from the man who made them and for less that half the price of Starbucks across the street.
Plenty of bargains to be had. Peaches that are not only local and much tastier but also far less than Manhattan supermarkets.
Those peaches also have no chemical fertilizers washing into local waterways and no insecticides are sprayed on the fruit so you are just eating a peach.
I was talking to this young man named Ron Binaghi today. He is a is a 6th generation farmer and really knows his product.
Not only could he tell me where his vegetables came from, he also had many suggestions about preparing his veggies. One of his suggestions was "Eat it Raw!" and he pointed out many of his customers have become so afraid of food that he needs to explain the fact that the food from his farm is safe. He should know, since he grew it himself.
Try getting that at the A & P or Wal-Mart. Try getting the sense of neighborhood that this man offers. He has regular customers who ask about his family and he knows about their loved ones. There are customers who can remember when he was a little boy playing with his Tonka toy in the back of the farm truck and some who often say "You know it seems like only yesterday when you first started selling me vegetables" but his family has been much longer than that.
Ron is co-owner of Stokes Farm, Inc. but don't let the incorporated part fool you. Just check out the family tree at the Meet the Farmers page.
This is a family farm. The farm is not certified organic but you can tell they are good farmers just by talking to them. When Ron told me "We use organic compost and we don't spray chemicals" I believe him much more than some typing on a package. Since this farm is in Old Tappan, New Jersey and at only 25 miles from Columbus Circle this is real local food. Old Tappan is a very affluent town and the farm is thriving in the middle of that town.
Another regular that can be found in Lincoln Center is Norwich Meadows Farm and they are certified organic. These farmers are a small farm success story. Since 1998 this backyard farm has grown to 35 acres and is active in NYC green markets and a growing list of CSA's.
Norwich Meadows Farm also has a message on their homepage.
For millions of years, the natural food system did not fail mankind. We not only survived, but flourished to a point of overpopulation. It is only within the past 100 years of man’s brief time on earth that we have resorted to artificial and toxic means to grow our foods. As a result, we not only have harmed our health, but we have dealt a blow to the very environment that supports our well-being.
No longer is there a lake, river or stream that is not contaminated with toxic agricultural chemicals. No longer is there a person who does not know someone who has cancer, or who has had a heart attack. There is only one way to reverse this destructive path and we believe we have taken the first and most important step and that was the decision to dedicate our god-given energies to the task of growing food as it was created, and to provide access to the local community for the betterment of its physical and economic health.
We must all become aware of the hidden costs of industrial farming. They do not, or will ever be included in the environmental costs to our air, water or our health., These are costs we and our children will pay for long into the future with our well-being and billions of dollars in taxes.
We believe that through the education of nutrition and the business and politics of food, we can succeed in our goal of setting up a viable alternative system that benefits all involved.
These two young farmers bring fresh cheese from grass fed cows to Lincoln Center every Thursday and Saturday from the Bobolink Dairy & Bakeyard in Vernon, New Jersey. The young lady said they also bake wood fired bread because "Wherever there is cheese, there should be bread."
Bobolink is another New york success story and if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.
BobolinkLLC Dairy derives its name from the ground-nesting bird that frequents its pastures and meadows. The farm includes nearly 200 acres of pasture, several barns, a farmhouse and an apprentice house. In Spring 2003, we began making cheese from the milk of our twenty mixed-breed, grass-fed cows. This season, we'll be milking between 30-35 cows, and we have a bumper crop of young heifers and bulls of our new breed, the Bobolink Blacks, which are the result of crossing several common "modern" dairy breeds (Ayrshire, Guernsey, Jersey, etc.) with the ancient Kerry cattle of Ireland.
Because of its extensive pastoral resources, as well as its proximity to New York City, we are optimistic that Bobolink will become an important center for promoting grass-based, sustainable, profitable, family-sized dairy farming as an alternative to the industrial, confinement-based farms that typified the dairy industry in the late 20th Century. By working with culinary arts and agricultural institutions in the region, we hope to encourage a new generation of chefs to demand and farmers to produce high-quality cheeses from well-treated cows on ever-fertile land, in both the developed and developing worlds.
For some exclusive bread bakers Meridith's Bread probably traveled the farthest to bring fresh bread to New York City. Starting out as a small bakery in Kingston, New York, this Catskill bakery has won the hearts of many in a real bread town.
These are some of my favorite guys at the market. They come from one of Greenmarket`s founding farmers in 1976, the Locust Grove Fruit Farm. They come from Milton in Ulster County New York but they sure sound like they are from the good old Bronx.
They are like a street smart rock band that sells fruit in their spare time and always offers service with a smile.
I saved the best for last, the place where those delicious apple cider donuts come from. The Prospect Hill Orchards are also from Milton, New York and have been family owned since 1817. They have it all, baked good, fruit, vegetables and everything taste so good.
No wait, don't go yet. Stay for dessert.
The Lincoln Center Farmer's Market is much smaller that the big Union Square Market that is almost as famous as the Macy's Fireworks display tonight. Being on the Upper West Side they enjoy a dedicated following but many of these farmers are working into other neighborhoods and communities in urban settings across the nation. They could use our help in making the public aware of what they offer and where. The more successful they are in new markets, the bigger they get and that's progress.