Archive for the ‘New Amsterdam, Summer 08’ Category

Great Performances: Sally

This (much belated) post is one of a series of essays written for the New Amsterdam Market. Each essay stems from a conversation between the author and a vendor who participated in the New Amsterdam Market of June 29th. The essays seek to address each vendor’s (food-related) enterprise, to highlight the reality behind their commitment to sustainability, and to convey the voice and personality that they bring to their work.

We met in Great Performances’ cafe, in the morning, before it was open.  I think Sally was grateful for a quiet, calm place in which to explain the business she so often has to pitch in a few seconds, behind the table at a farmers market or the bar at a large fundraiser.  The catering company, farm, and non-profit organization known as Great Performances is a multi-faceted entity that seeks to employ artists and dancers who are working towards their artistic career.  The task of explaining this particular company in three seconds strikes me too as daunting, though I’ve seen Sally do it.  I was grateful we had a little more time to talk, and she was eager to provide a glowing, more drawn-out description.

rentals_lrgIn 1979, Great Performances was established by the struggling young photographer Liz Neumark.  It began as a staffing company for women in the arts, including Liz, to sustain themselves in New York City.  When the catering industry took off in the 1980s, Great Performances launched full-on catering services, partnering in particular with the city’s cultural institutions.  Their business has only grown.  Today, they cater events images-2in venues throughout New York, from fundraisers in their own space on Hudson Street to events in the ballroom at The Plaza Hotel.  They also run their own staffing company, and manage the food service in several of New York’s arts-related institutions, including the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Jazz at Lincoln Center.  Their menus draw from “New American cuisine,” and emphasize seasonal products local to the Hudson Valley.

images-1That’s one part of what Great Performances has become.  Part two:  In 2006, Liz bought land in upstate New York, and the catering company became the first in the nation to own and operate a farm.  Katchkie Farm occupies sixty acres in Kinderhook, New York, in Columbia County.  Now only in its second growing season, the farm now includes three greenhouses and a chicken coop.  About twenty-five percent of Great Performances’ catered events include some Katchkie produce.  While the main purpose of the farm is to provide produce for their catering, Great Performances’ catering clients must request the “local” menu to receive Katchkie products.  “A lot more clients now are asking for the ‘local route,’” Sally said.  “It’s a little more expensive, but primarily it requires trust and faith on the part of our client to ask for a whole menu from within 100 miles.”  During eight weeks over the past summer, the farm also services the Rockefeller Center Greenmarket, where, Sally mentioned, “we have to explain what ‘greenmarket’ is.”  Touristy as the market may be, the stand in Rockefeller center has gained Great Performances a growing membership in their “corporate CSA.”  Employees of a nearby corporation either receive weekly CSA shares of Katchkie produce, or coupons for $5-$10 bags of vegetables per week.


The third component of Great Performances is the Sylvia Center, a non-profit organization that works with neighborhoods and children at risk for food-related diseases.  For the past three years, the center has worked with the students at P.S. 180 in Harlem, who help run a farmers market outside the school for community service credit.  Other Sylvia Center programs involve bringing NYC students to local city kitchens and up to the farm, always with a farm-to-table and nutrition focus.  “Some kids who go up [to the farm] have never seen a farm!” Sally mentioned.  “I’ve seen them react the realization that their food is a plant (‘Carrots?! From the ground?!’)  We introduce them to the way their food is grown, teach them about farmers markets, and cook with them using our produce.”

Just as it has from the beginning, Great Performances hires individuals who are particularly involved in the arts.  The employees have particularly flexible hours, allowing for days they need to audition, or nights when they’re performing.  They can leave Great Performances for an extended period of time, with the option of coming back (when the tour ends, or show closes).  Sometimes, they come back to help even after their careers have taken off!  Marcia Gay Harden once worked for Great Performances as a cater waitress, and now, after winning an Oscar for her performance in Pollock, she will be judging the scholarship contest held by the Sylvia Center for the students of P.S. 180.

A dance and Spanish major in college, in her first year at Great Performances, Sally was not the first to tell me that Great Performances is a wonderful place to work, and a gift to many struggling artists, actors, and dancers making their way in New York.  Those who work there are constantly learning more about the food industry while not being forced to abandon their ambitions elsewhere.  The company brilliantly connects the dots, between economic sustainability, human health, and environmental sustainability, in a way we can only hope to see more of in the future.

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NYCS: Anne & Neil

This post is one of a series of essays written for the New Amsterdam Market. Each essay stems from a conversation between the author and a vendor who participated in the New Amsterdam Market of June 29th. The essays seek to address each vendor’s (food-related) enterprise, to highlight the reality behind their commitment to sustainability, and to convey the voice and personality that they bring to their work.


True to expectations, Neil and Anne chose for our meeting one of New York’s now numerous, rather expensive, cult-inspiring coffee shops.  We met at Café Grumpy, on 20th Street in Manhattan. The couple was predictably, almost professionally, excited about the coffee we drank there. The way they talked about coffees reminded me of the way fashion fanatics talk about a new pair of shoes, fresh off the runway. They sip the newest products, rather than slipping them on their feet, but the oohs and the ahs are similar, and the appreciation of quality and value invisible to most outside their particular circle of friends and fellow coffee connoisseurs. I found myself (chagrinned) wondering how much I had been missing, all this time contenting myself with Porto Rico‘s affordable Fair Trade Organic coffee, brewed eight cups at a time in my old drip machine. Fair Trade, I was informed, is Neil and Anne’s least favorite certification. They search out the highest quality beans, the acquisitions of direct trade routes, the treasured products of local roasters held in as high esteem as the most inaccessible, high-end designers. I was in for a lesson.

Anne Nylander and Neil Oney are the organizers of the New York Coffee Society (NYCS). Founder Daniel Humphries established NYCS just over a year ago, in March 2007, for the sole purpose of facilitating the appreciation of high quality coffee. The Society organizes events – cuppings – at which the general public has the opportunity to try coffees in a non-commercial environment. The cuppings are generally free or donation-based. They take place once a month, in all different places, highlighting coffees from various farms and roasters. No one is paid to put on the events, and no products are available for purchase.

Anne became co-organizer of the New York Coffee Society in January 2008, and Neil naturally became the “third half” of the group’s leadership. She is from Seattle, had her first espresso when she was twelve, and has been in love with coffee as long as she can remember. She decided to make a career of it two years ago, worked at Joe and Café El Beit, and attended countless trade shows and regional competitions. In June, she started up TempTamp, a barista temp agency that hires high quality baristas and offers temporary barista services and barista training and consulting to businesses in New York. While Anne and Neil went on a road trip last year ostensibly known as the “road to epiphany,” she admitted, “it was really sort of a coffee crawl.” Asking Anne to explain her obsession with coffee was somewhat like asking her to explain her personality.

The characteristics of the quality of coffee sought out by the NYCS are more numerous and complex than I can be even begin to outline. High quality, Anne explained, is somewhat equated with sustainability and social responsibility, since the quality of coffee increases directly with practices considered responsible and sustainable: the beans are shade-grown, grown at high elevations, often organic, and cultivated in a bird-friendly manner. Numerous certifications and business models can guarantee one or more of these characteristics, including the Rainforest Alliance and Bird Friendly certifications and the Direct Trade process of purchasing coffee.

The heroes of the Direct Trade process are Geoff Watts of Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea and Peter Guiliano of Counter Culture Coffee. Both Counterculture and Intelligentsia are roasters that have invested in the quality of their coffee as well as the social stability of their sources. They establish long-term contracts with their farmers, providing incentive for a long-term commitment to sustainable practices. As Anne explained, it’s otherwise safer for farmers to produce commodity coffee despite vulnerability to price fluctuation. Many countries have protective markets for the coffee crop, but the specialty market provides an alternative option. Farmers are otherwise inevitably subject to price fluctuation or government protection. Although specialty coffee farmers grow less product, they earn more, and can actually manage to make a profit, as opposed to the majority of coffee farmers, who struggle to break even.

“Fair Trade Certification guarantees farmers a fixed price which isn’t very high (the commodity price + $0.05, or at least $1.35/lb) and a social commitment that’s difficult to track,” Anne said. “The Direct Trade process promises a higher price (at least $1.60/lb), and focuses upon the transparency of the trade route. The farmer knows the price of his coffee through the entire process – farm to mill to roaster to retail. He won’t be shocked to find out the disparity between what he’s paid for his coffee beans in his country, and what we pay for a cup of coffee in the US.” The Direct Trade process, though not yet formally certified, guarantees direct communication between grower and roaster, and a particularly high cupping quality. Counter Culture Coffee coordinates with an outside panel that judges its purchasing process for “Direct Trade Certification,” while many good roasters like Stumptown Coffee from Portland, or Gimmé Coffee from Ithaca, can only claim to use the Direct Trade process. “Small roasters usually don’t have an independent organization backing them up,” Neil explained, “so you have to trust their word. And in the case of Gimme and several others, we do. They try to operate in the most transparent way possible, and only associate themselves with green coffee buyers who do the same, thus assuring quality and sustainability.”

There are many more specific elements, of course, within the demands of the coffee connoisseur. Once picked, coffee beans must be depulped, fermented or dried to dissolve the mucilage, dry- or wet-washed, and then dried to 12% moisture before packaging. Then they are roasted. Then ground, then brewed. While the beans will stay fresh in their green form for up to nine months, they don’t fly very well once roasted, and should be consumed within two weeks of their roasting date. Neil explained, “Coffee is like wine before roasting: it’s fermented, the terroir is important, and it lasts a long time. But after roasting, the beans are more like a cheese. Roasted beans are susceptible to air and moisture, and need to be brewed before too long.” Good roasters will always put the roasting date on their bags, and will normally ship the coffee to their customers the day after roasting. According to Neil and Anne, beans are best brewed within fourteen days of this date.

Local roasters (particularly those who ostensibly follow the Direct Trade model) provide the most direct route possible to consumers. Neil and Anne recommend Gimme! Coffee, Stumptown Coffee (soon to start roasting in New York), and of course Counter Culture Coffee and Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea. Although the latter two are not locally based, they are primarily responsible for the increasing strength of the New York coffee community. “Compared to the Pacific Northwest,” Anne mentioned, “we’ve got nothin! But this culture is definitely growing here.”

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This post is one of a series of essays written for the New Amsterdam Market. Each essay stems from a conversation between the author and a vendor who participated in the New Amsterdam Market of June 29th. The essays seek to address each vendor’s (food-related) enterprise, to highlight the reality behind their commitment to sustainability, and to convey the voice and personality that they bring to their work.


Brant Shapiro probably doesn’t get interviewed very often.  He is a true purveyor, a grocer, a man whose work is rarely appreciated in today’s food system.  Consumers don’t necessarily consider the products in one grocery store as any more difficult to source than the products of a more “healthy” food shop.  And one might assume that Brant’s store, The Health Shoppe, could get large quantities of organic produce as easily as any non-organic items.  Even if we’re aware that it is more difficult, we all know Whole Foods isn’t struggling to put food on the shelves, so who’s to say Brant’s business is any different from Whole Foods? 

The Health Shoppe is smaller, for one thing, and isn’t considered “gourmet.”  But the biggest difference, in fact, is the shop’s dependence on an individual like Brant.

In the 1950s, Brant’s great uncle established the first health food store on Long Island.  His father and uncle worked there until 1969, when they opened their own store, The Health Shoppe, in Morristown, New Jersey.  They expanded the business to include four locations, each of them sites where one could find a selection of vitamins, supplements, and minerals.  By the time Brant came on the scene in the’90s, a different sort of health food store was a spreading phenomenon.  Bread & Circus became the largest natural food retailer in the Northeast, before it was bought by Whole Foods in 1992.  And it was around this time that Brant decided to convert The Health Shoppe into a store where customers would find a selection of produce and food products, in addition to the former vitamin-rich inventory.  Brant is responsible for sourcing that selection.

All the produce at The Health Shoppe is Certified Organic, as well as all the poultry, milk, and juices.  The shop sells no products that contain corn syrup.  Brant bases his supply choices upon his own experience and education.  “I used to love fancy foods and fancy wine,” Brant said, “but the more I got into that stuff, the less fancy it got…until I hit the soil.  I know the best of foods have a lot more to do with dirt than anything else.”  This knowledge may be spreading, but the unique products Brant seeks to supply are still difficult to source.  Brant buys cheese for the store from Mateo at Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont, and Karen at Three-Corner-Field Farm in New York; yogurt from Patches of Star Dairy in Pennsylvania; bread from Kathy at Bakehouse; and eggs and produce from John at Runnin’ Free Organic Farm in New Jersey.  “Local farmers get dibs on the market,” Brant said, “but it takes a lot of coordination.”  For example, Runnin’ Free Farm delivers four times a week, but other suppliers are less consistent, and may not normally sell their products to wholesale customers.  “Sometimes I have to sit down with farmers and establish what they’re going to charge me,” Brant explained.  “It’s sort of a big experiment.”

Experimenting or not, Brant manages to keep a lively business in Morristown, New Jersey, a town not known to be particularly progressive.  “We try to educate people on the ethics of food,” Brant said, “but in general all I can do is make sure I’ve chosen carefully what to sell in the shop.”  All the prepared food in the store is made from scratch, and there’s not a Heinz Ketchup or Mayonnaise bottle to be found.  “We boil the chicken for the chicken salad from the bone,” Brant elaborated.  “We make everything at the sandwich bar except for the hummus.  And all the produce, grains, and beans are Organic.”  As Brant described it, The Health Shoppe is sort of a mutant store – the busiest hour is lunchtime, and the place has a co-op feel, though it’s not cooperatively owned or operated.  “It’s the way I want it to be,” Brant said, “and the way I think it has to be.  For me…Well, running the store this way is exactly what I want to be doing.” 

The Health Shoppe sponsors a weekly farmers market just outside the store and participates in an annual New Jersey farm tour event and open house.  Morristown Hospital recently asked Brant to set up a market on the hospital grounds.  While the community of New Jersey farmers and food producers is growing in strength and popularity, Brant said many customers still don’t know or ask much about the connection between the store and the local farmers, and don’t always appreciate the products or the prices.  “People complain sometimes about our prices,” he said.  “But if they only knew!  If I took into account the time and logistics involved for getting the yogurt for example: my purchasing yogurt from the Greenmarket, carting it through the city in my cooler, to my fridge, then back to the cooler, into the store…this stuff could cost $70!  But that’s where it’s at right now.  These are the foods I want in my shop.”

Brant admitted he suffers from a bit of a professional identity crisis.  “I’m not a producer, or a butcher, or a cheesemonger,” he said, “and I’m not just a guy who buys and sells things to make money.  That’s why, really, it felt good to be at the New Amsterdam Market.  It gave me some identity.  That Market gave me a place as a purveyor.”

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This post is one of a series of essays written for the New Amsterdam Market. Each essay stems from a conversation between the author and a vendor who participated in the New Amsterdam Market of June 29th. The essays seek to address each vendor’s (food-related) enterprise, to highlight the reality behind their commitment to sustainability, and to convey the voice and personality that they bring to their work.


As Anita Lee began explaining what it means for Bo Bo to sell “Buddhist Style” chickens, I realized I had asked her to break down the poultry business into more basic terms than she might have imagined.  I didn’t need to ask twice.  Nearly overflowing with youthful cheerfulness, Anita offered to tell the story of Bo Bo Poultry.  She is a woman, who, through self-reflection, has boiled “sustainability” down to her own base definition: Telling the truth.

Founded by Richard Lee in 1985, Bo Bo Poultry now supplies seven out of every ten chickens in Chinatown.  Anita’s father Richard bought his first egg-laying farm near the Catskills in 1978.   In 1985, he opened a live poultry market beneath the Williamsburg Bridge in Manhattan, and with the help of his brothers, chose to raise particular breeds of poultry popular among Asians for their taste and form.  Rather than the prominent breasts and small limbs of the “efficient” chickens grown by the majority of America’s poultry farmers, the Lees raise Barred Silver Cross (or Black Feather) Chickens.  Whereas the quickened growth speed of industrially raised chickens produces a full-sized bird in four to five weeks, Bo Bo’s breeds grow at their natural, slower pace.  The cost is higher: the chickens require more feed.  But they are physically able and have time to walk around and grow muscle.  “The taste,” Anita said, “is much richer and completely different.  It’s like something we would have eaten 60 years ago.”

Richard Lee’s original live poultry market in Manhattan was regulated by the State, and thus the products of the shop were restricted for sale to in-state HRI (hotels, restaurants, and institutions).  Bo Bo Poultry earned a USDA license for a facility they built from scratch in Williamsburg in 1998, and their business has expanded ever since.  In addition to full-size chickens, the shop sells poussins, fowl, quail, partridges, silky, quail eggs, roosters, and rabbits, based upon season and availability.  While the U.S. poultry industry is primarily based in the Southeast region of America, Bo Bo’s farms are spread throughout New York and Pennsylvania.  A map of Bo Bo’s farm locations reveals they lie a maximum distance of 200 miles from the processing plant in Williamsburg.  According to Anita, it’s currently more sustainable to raise poultry in the areas outside the SE region.  Bo Bo’s farms invites community farmers to pick up the chickens’ manure to be used as fertilizer, for example, whereas many Southern poultry farmers find they need to truck their manure thousands of miles to reach farms who can use the manure from this poultry-rich region.  Otherwise, the waste is often kept in lagoons, which can runoff onto neighboring properties.  The New York Area also happens to be the main Asian distribution capital of the East Coast, a convenient destination for Bo Bo’s wholesale distributors.

As we spoke, the story of Bo Bo Poultry turned into something of a cultural lesson.  “Chinese people will cook a chicken every day!” she said, which makes it possible to guarantee fresh products to Bo Bo’s Asian customer base.  While trying to develop a way to sell chickens in more diverse markets, Anita has noticed that “Americans” tend to only buy a chicken once or twice a week.  Asians are also very frugal, she mentioned.  She questioned me about the “American” tendency to waste so many parts of the animals we eat.  Restaurants in Chinatown, she explained, will order whole pigs, whole chickens, whole duck, and will use the whole animals in their meals. The fact that Bo Bo sells “Buddhist Style” chickens means the birds are processed in accordance with Buddhist religious beliefs, requiring that the head and feet remain on eviscerated poultry.  Not only are the birds thus suitable for prayer, but “we can use everything,” Anita explained.  “We use the neck and the feet for stock.  I’ve seen how “extraneous” parts are wasted, even in cooking schools here!”  Anita she said.  “You have to be able to look at the chickens’ eyes, to see that they are fresh and healthy.  How can you know a bird is fresh, if you are only looking at parts?!”

Anita emphasized that Bo Bo chickens are a very good quality, simple product.  The chickens are free roaming, slow grown, and raised without antibiotics or hormones.  “Pastured raising is difficult,” Anita mentioned, “In order to supply the demands of a city like New York, you would need to dedicate all of New York State as farmland.”  Having just read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, she was keen to consider how Bo Bo might improve their practices.  Pollan spent a chapter of his book highlighting the pasture-perfect system of Polyface farm in Virginia, and Anita mentioned how she’d like to visit their farms one day.  “But if Polyface raises about 12,000 broilers a year,” she said.  “they can’t feed New York City.  You can’t feed our population with 35 chickens a day.”  Anita also mentioned the way Joel Salatin won’t ship chicken via mail order.  “That way he only reaches a small community,” she said.  “Bo Bo aims to be the middle ground, enabling greater access to good, simple, products consistently, at an affordable price.

Anita thanks Michael Pollan for beginning to bring to light many issues relevant to the poultry business.  “You didn’t used to know, or ask, where your McNugget came from,” she said, “but Pollan has opened the doors – now we can talk about it!  We don’t have to pretend we’re something that we’re not, but we can discuss what we can do better, and move forward honestly.”  While neither organic nor pasture-raised, Bo Bo chickens are affordable.  Bo Bo charges half the price of organic or pasture-raised chickens.  Most people who visit Bo Bo’s retail store, Anita mentioned, buy their chickens with food stamps.  And even Chef Dan Barber buys a significant percentage of Bo Bo poultry for his restaurants Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns.  “Organic usually means substituting inputs that increase the price substantially and don’t guarantee a good product,” Anita said, “What is important is trusting and knowing the people that produce and process your food.  We choose to remain affordable for our customers, while keeping our standards of good quality feed and good farming practices.  If our farms were to start raising chickens organically, their costs would go up, we would have to pay them more, and we would have to raise our retail and wholesale prices.  We don’t want to price people out of good quality poultry.”

As for the New Amsterdam Market, Anita believes it will critically encourage the dialogue Michael Pollan has begun, in addition to serving the neighborhood’s needs.  “I like the idea of having a market at South Street Seaport,” she said, “because a lot of people are moving into the neighborhood, and a lot of people live in the nearby subsidized housing.  These are people who cook at home, and who want fresh, whole foods.”  Anita imagines the market will also serve as a great educational incubator.  While they closed their retail shop in Manhattan this month, Bo Bo would consider reopening their store down at the Seaport, where both wholesale and retail customers could come and speak to Anita about Bo Bo’s chickens.  “The one thing about our store I miss – the reason we had a retail shop – is that I can tell customers about their chickens.  I think that’s the most powerful marketing tool, to tell them everything I can.  The truth is not always beautiful!  But I think we have a sustainable business, because we are open for discussion.”

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This post is one of a series of essays written for the New Amsterdam Market. Each essay stems from a conversation between the author and a vendor who participated in the New Amsterdam Market of June 29th. The essays seek to address each vendor’s (food-related) enterprise, to highlight the reality behind their commitment to sustainability, and to convey the voice and personality that they bring to their work.


The Queens County Farm Museum lies a few miles South of Little Neck Bay, occupying forty-seven acres in the Northeastern section of Queens, New York.  It is the largest remaining tract of undisturbed farmland in New York City.  The farm dates back to 1697, when the Adriance family began farming on the parcel they would own throughout five generations, for over a hundred years.  New York State bought the land in 1926, to grow fruits and vegetables for the rehabilitation of patients at the Creedmoor State Hospital.  In 1975, New York State Senator Frank Padavan wrote the legislation that transferred ownership from the state to the New York City Department of Parks and protected the site from future development.  Today, the Queens County Farm Museum is still owned by the Department of Parks, and is operated by the Colonial Farmhouse Restoration Society of Bellerose, which seeks to preserve the historical buildings and stories of the land from the 1930s.  As a New York City Landmark, the Farm Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places, and provides many educational programs, public events, and services.  More than 500,000 people visit the site each year.

At thirty-three years of age, Michael Robertson is the first farmer to cultivate the land of the Farm Museum in over fifty years.  Originally from a suburb of Kansas City, MO, he studied philosophy in Boston, and spent time on a farm in Guatemala before returning to the States to begin farming in Texas.  Most recently, he worked as an apprentice at Hawthorne Valley, a 400-acre biodynamic farm in upstate New York.  Just last year, realizing he wanted to farm and live in New York City (if at all possible), Michael rather fortunately happened upon the website of the Queens County Farm Museum.  He called to ask if the Museum might be interested in hiring a farmer and converting the property back into a working farm.  The answer was yes.

Of the forty-seven acres of the Queens County Farm Museum, about seven are occupied by visitor attractions: historic buildings, the Amazing Maize Maze, and a pumpkin patch planted for Pick-Your-Own-Pumpkin weekends in October.  Another twenty-five acres are brush and woods, overgrown with decades of unfettered, invasive plants.  Michael is currently cultivating one of the remaining fifteen acres – with the help of compost from the city – and plans to expand this space in the near future.  While approaching the farm with a knowledge and understanding of the biodynamic methods of Hawthorne Valley, and of the sustainable practices of Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm, Michael must take baby steps towards the reestablishment of a real working farm on the Queens property.

The Farm Museum has existed primarily as a historic landmark for the past thirty years.  The Colonial Farmhouse Restoration Society has kept sheep and goats at the farm for the purpose of seasonal events and festival entertainment.  While the individuals running the museum are receptive to the idea of converting the land into a working farm, many of them have little or no experience in productive agriculture.  “In my work here, I have to be flexible to accommodate the needs of education and entertainment,” Michael explained.  There will certainly be a period of adjustment as current priorities (three or four busloads of visiting children per day, a non-organic corn maize, animals for petting, and historic preservation) coordinate with the needs and requirements of sustainable agricultural production.

If all goes well, Michael will sell his produce at the Union Square Greenmarket throughout the coming fall and winter.  While the Farm Museum depends largely upon grants and education programs, Michael hopes the farm will one day be not only environmentally but financially sustainable.  Over the next few years, he will assess the potential for cultivation on the acres currently overgrown with woodland and brush.  He hopes to farm about eight to ten acres, to raise animals for fiber on the cleared pasture, and eventually to start up a micro-dairy.  He has little doubt about the healthy local market for fresh produce.  Michael already delivers fresh vegetables to a few restaurants in his neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and eventually he would like to organize Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) membership for the farm, while continuing to sell at the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan. 

Michael estimates he might eventually supply a CSA of two hundred members, though increasing production to this level will of course require hands and arms besides his own.  He imagines creating a sort of miniature CRAFT program for Long Island.  CRAFT, or the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training, is a cooperative effort of organic and biodynamic farms in the Hudson Valley, the Berkshires, and Pioneer Valley, organized to enhance educational opportunities for farm apprentices.  While the creation of a similar program, to connect the farmers in Long Island, is a long way off, Michael will certainly be using what community support and knowledge he can gather, as he is the only farm in the city larger than an acre or two.

Not that farming in New York City is lonely.  “Most people decide where to live based upon proximity to family and friends – based upon community,” he said.  “My community is here.  I didn’t feel I should have to isolate myself, to be a farmer.”  While he has a lot of work ahead of him, the Queens County Farm Museum does allow a farmer the best of both worlds.  Michael, as he’d hoped, is able to cultivate true farmland and still live within his own urban community.

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This post is one of a series of essays written for the New Amsterdam Market. Each essay stems from a conversation between the author and a vendor who participated in the New Amsterdam Market of June 29th. The essays seek to address each vendor’s (food-related) enterprise, to highlight the reality behind their commitment to sustainability, and to convey the voice and personality that they bring to their work.


By the time one finishes a conversation with Gabrielle Carbone, it’s impossible not to wonder what flavors have popped into her mind, how many cones she has imagined or remembered, and how many of her rapid thoughts, as she would say, will soon “snowball” into something new and marvelous. She and I sat this week on the wooden planks of the pier by the Brooklyn Bridge, her head dwarfed by a scoop of ice cream she skillfully saved from puddlehood in the heat. As the thin woman spoke, I wondered whether her particular metabolism magically turned cream to creativity, and whether she might have produced over a thousand flavors by now (rather than 400), had she not been occupied with running a business. “The sweet basil and goat cheese ice cream? I thought of that in seven seconds!” she said. “If I had time, I could really create something!”

While those ignorant of Gabrielle’s talents might advocate giving the ever-energized woman a well-deserved vacation, I’m afraid the daily regulars at the Bent Spoon have no such thing in mind. Residency in Brooklyn has limited me to far-from-daily consumption of Gabrielle’s creations, but I have visited The Bent Spoon a few times, and have several friends whom I can’t imagine would last even a week without a trip to the shop.

The Bent Spoon is located in Princeton, New Jersey. Since it’s opening in 2004, Gabrielle Carbone has made her ice cream straight from scratch, and the focus has been the same: as often as possible, the ice cream’s ingredients are not only organic, but sourced from local New Jersey farmers. These ingredients include berries, herbs, fruits, cheeses, honey, cream, of course, as well as the hundreds (thousands?) of dozens of eggs that go into the ice cream every week. Gabrielle, co-owner of the shop along with her husband, Matthew, gives the impression she doesn’t have time to be following some kind of local food trend. She just remembers where the good tomatoes came from when she was a kid! Straight from her Italian family’s garden by the home where she grew up in New Jersey. “Food was the center of every holiday,” she said. “Fresh food from a local garden or farm was one of those things you just had, and then you got to college and realized there was a need for it.” Both Gabrielle and Matthew grew up in the Garden State, and (as they say) have wholeheartedly embraced the bountiful New Jersey “terroir.”

“It’s like an insurance policy,” said Gabrielle. “If you put good stuff in what you’re making, it’s gonna taste good.” Gabrielle knew that high quality food was available in her state, and “the ideas just snowballed!” she said. “By now we’ve come up with 400 flavors, and it’s really easy – I think of something I like, mascarpone for example, and then I’ve already got so many good flavors at my fingertips! Blueberry mascarpone, cranberry mascarpone, lavender mascarpone.” She talks fast, almost like a little girl. “We have so much to choose from! There’s a pear and grape trellis we’re allowed to pick from, literally around the corner from the shop. We make the best concord grape sorbet I’ve ever had! Well, the only concord grape sorbet I’ve ever had….”

The creator of The Bent Spoon holds a unique position in the community of New Jersey farmers and Princeton restaurants: she is a sort of middleman between them, and one whose talent is greatly appreciated. The retail shop is the focus of Gabrielle’s business, but The Bent Spoon also distributes ice cream to about fifteen restaurants in the area. While these restaurants otherwise seek to source directly from farmers, they appreciate a producer whom they can count on to buy local ingredients.

In fact, there’s more demand for their ice cream than Gabrielle and Matthew can produce. “Sometimes farms deliver our ingredients when they’re delivering to restaurants as well,” she said, “But sometimes we have the members of our staff go pick blueberries for us. Most often we have to pick up our ingredients from our sources. We meaning me, in my car, driving out to the farms.” Too small for most distributors, The Bent Spoon often has to make do with such time-consuming practices. “There aren’t more people making ice cream this way (from scratch, organic, local),” Gabrielle said, “because right now, it’s not a good business model. It’s pretty much impossible to run the shop and have a balanced life.”

Balance or no, Gabrielle has managed to render her ice cream a tasty connector of peoples and communities – of producers and consumers, farms, schools, and restaurants, children, chefs, students, and other food businesses. The public schools in Princeton and the Whole Earth Center, a local health food store, have worked together with The Bent Spoon for nearly two years, to create the School Gardens Community Confections Program. School gardens, local farms, and food businesses donate ingredients to The Bent Spoon each month (mint, for example, peaches, coffee, or chocolate), and the resulting 80-100 pints of ice cream are sold (monthly) at the Whole Earth Center. Except for just enough money to cover the cost of packaging, all the proceeds go back into funding Princeton school gardens. “The students grow or help harvest something, they get to eat it in ice cream, and the money they spend goes back into their garden’s growth!” Gabrielle said. “I love that kids here get to be a part of a circle like that.”

One might wonder how The Bent Spoon survives the seasons, or be surprised to find their raspberry sorbet still available in February. “I can’t have a case of cheese-flavored ice creams all winter,” Gabrielle admitted. “I have to have some of the things people want to have, to keep a business.” But if she must get raspberries from California in February, they will be organic. “I freeze New Jersey blueberries and strawberries, but I don’t have room to freeze raspberries too. And when it comes down to it – I can’t be sure what’s more sustainable. Plugging in an extra freezer to keep raspberries all winter? Or having them shipped from California? Of course I’d rather have New Jersey berries, but I do what I can.”

Though most (really, more than most) of her hours are spent in the shop, Gabrielle tries to find time to step back a little from the daily tasks of The Bent Spoon. Two years ago, Gabrielle learned last-minute of Terra Madre, Slow Food’s World Meeting of Food Communities in Turin, Italy. More or less overnight, she gathered together her farmers and collaborators, and was welcomed to attend the event as the Community of Central New Jersey Ice Cream Makers and Vegetable and Herb Growers. “I try to keep up on current issues and food policies,” she said. “But when you have a business, it closes you off to a lot of stuff. Sometimes you can have a greater impact if you step back a little bit, and look at the bigger picture.”

After Terra Madre, Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini came to visit The Bent Spoon, and “it was the greatest thrill of my life,” Gabrielle said. “I remember him laughing, saying he had never heard of a ‘Community of Ice Cream Makers and Vegetable and Herb Growers!’” She said it was great to feel she was (at least) a small part of the ongoing, larger efforts to change our food system. “And that includes the New Amsterdam Market,” she mentioned. “It really helps us small guys do our job, to know this large-scale, organizational work is being done as well. It is a service to us all.”

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This post is one of a series of essays written for the New Amsterdam Market.  Each essay stems from a conversation between the author and a vendor who participated in the New Amsterdam Market of June 29th.  The essays seek to address each vendor’s (food-related) enterprise, to highlight the reality behind their commitment to sustainability, and to convey the voice and personality that they bring to their work.


Meeting with Jessamyn Waldman was a close-up reminder of the multi-faceted creativity and perseverance it will require to build a new food system in this country.  Jessamyn has her own perspective on sustainability, a powerful one, of immigrant justice and fair labor practices, and one she has made manifest by baking bread, a substance she considers simultaneously cultural and universal, common, and yet symbolic.

Hot Bread Kitchen is a non-profit bakery business that provides employment opportunities for immigrant women while honoring and preserving their bread-making skills and traditions.  Just over a year after founding the Kitchen, Jessamyn now works part-time with four bakers to produce a small set of breads: French baguettes and multi-grain loaves, Italian focaccia, hand-ground Mexican corn tortillas, and an organic, Armenian lavash.  The ingredients in the bread are locally grown and organic whenever possible.  While the women of Hot Bread Kitchen sell at the community market in Dumbo and at the Brooklyn Flea, most of their breads go to wholesale customers.  Their products can be found in Manhattan at Eli’s and Saxelby Cheesemongers, and in Brooklyn at Blue Apron Fine Foods, Foragers MarketGet Fresh,Greene Grape ProvisionsMarlow & SonsStinky BrooklynUrban Rustic, and Victory Café.

Jessamyn rushed in late to our meeting at Blue Marble, and while I was afraid the whole conversation might be conducted out of breath, she was poised and articulate within seconds.  Originally from Toronto, Jessamyn came to New York for graduate school, and previously worked for the United Nations, as well as several NGOs, all of which were primarily related to migration issues.  After finding herself “totally uninspired,” most of her time spent on administration and paper work, she tried education, hoping it would prove to be a more hands-on, satisfying field.  “I did a good stint in New York City public schools,” she said.  “But the bakery idea developed, over years of meeting people – funders and investors – and I eventually came to the realization that I wasn’t going to be happy in any other job until I tried it.”

While working part-time as the administrator at a local high school, Jessamyn earned her Master Baker Certificate from The New School.  She then began work as a baker at the New York restaurant Daniel.  She looked into organizations with moderately similar missions to her own, including Mama’s Hot Tamales in Los Angeles, Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, and St. John’s Bakery in Toronto.  She founded Hot Bread Kitchen in May 2007, and received a grant from the Eileen Fisher Grant Program for Women Entrepreneurs in November 2007.  

Jessamyn attributes the in-progress-success of her business not only to the quality of her breads, but also, primarily, to the overwhelming appeal of the idea behind the bakery. “The last thing I want to do is come across as benevolent, as a do-gooder,” she said.  “But I provide a living wage.  It’s paid training. And I think the women I’ve worked with greatly appreciate the opportunity to have that.”  Jessamyn founded Hot Bread Kitchen with the knowledge that in New York City, immigrants make up 66% of low-wage workers, and the majority of immigrant women get stuck in low-paid domestic work.  She recognized that the overwhelming majority of bakers in the city are men, even while immigrant women often have valuable bread-making skills and experience from their home countries.  New York has hundreds of restaurants, representing dozens of ethnicities, Jessamyn mentioned, “and almost all cuisines include some sort of baked bread-like substance.  But few restaurants actually make their own bread.” “It’s a powerful symbol,” she said.  “Bread works as an image and a concept.  There’s something very visceral about it.  It conveys the message of multiculturalism.” 

Hot Bread Kitchen bakers currently include women from Afghanistan, Togo, Mexico, and Ecuador.  They currently bake bread only a few times a week, in the commercial kitchen of the Artisan Baking Center in Long Island City.  As employees, the bakers are offered weekly ESL classes, taught by volunteers. Jessamyn looks forward to the growth of Hot Bread Kichen, to the establishment of a permanent bakery location, and to offering the bakers full-time jobs. A recent recipient of the 2008 Echoing Green Fellowship, Jessamyn is only now able to devote herself full-time to Hot Bread Kitchen.

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This post is one of a series of essays written for the New Amsterdam Market.  Each essay stems from a conversation between the author and a vendor who participated in the New Amsterdam Market of June 29th.  The essays seek to address each vendor’s (food-related) enterprise, to highlight the reality behind their commitment to sustainability, and to convey the voice and personality that they bring to their work.


Jake Dickson matched my expectations in appearance and style.  Meat guys don’t have the lanky, longhaired look of gardeners or foragers.  Jake’s short ruddy curls and friendly, freckled stature fit his profession.  His frank, good-natured, manner shifted easily between small talk and sales, of steaks and chops, roasts and ribs, beef and bacon.  Still, I’d underestimated the wealth of knowledge that plays foundation to his recently launched business.  After we spoke for an hour over breakfast, just before the Sunday market in Park Slope, it was obvious to me that Jake could have kept talking all day.  He may have grown up in Princeton, attended Cornell, and worked in marketing for American Express.  But now, the man knows meat.

Dickson’s Farmstand Meats is currently a fixture at two weekly markets, in Morningside on Saturday and in Park Slope on Sunday.  Offering various cuts of beef, lamb, and pork, Jake knows where each piece of meat came from, how the animal was raised, and the slaughterhouse where it was processed.  He buys whole animals from specific farms, and works with two small slaughterhouses.  If you’re interested, he’ll tell you everything there is to know about your protein. 

The baseline requirements of meats sold through Dickson’s Farmstand are the following: between farm, slaughterhouse, and point of sale, there are less than 400 miles; the animals are given neither antibiotics nor animal-based feed; the animals have never spent any time on CAFOs or feedlots.  Traceability is a priority for Jake, and the meat he sells has a lot number which will tell you the exact animal it came from, and how, where, and by whom it was raised.  All of the farms Jake currently works with are in New York State: the cows and pigs are raised at Herondale Farm in Ancramdale, Wrighteous Organics in Schoharie, The Pigs Place in Fort Edward, and Sarmarlynn Farm in Vernon; the sheep, at Woolley Sheep Farm in Rutland. 

Jake set his local radius with the confidence that there’s enough quality meat raised within 400 miles of New York City to feed a healthy business.  In fact, “it’s slaughter houses that are my most important relationship,” he said.  “Fifty to seventy-five percent of slaughterhouses are untrustworthy.”  Jake works with Nichols Meat Processing in Altamont, New York, and Leona Meat Plant in Troy, Pennsylvania.  Both are locations where “a busy day means slaughtering about ten animals,” and where he can trust the butchers to follow his exact specifications.  Jake spent three months working at Nichols last year, respects the skill and experience demonstrated at both locations, and has built up a strong relationship with the individuals who run them.

Jake’s three months at Nichols Meat Processing rounded out eight months he dedicated to research before opening Dickson’s Farmstand.  Last spring, having previously worked in marketing for several years, Jake knew he wanted to start his own business, was interested in meat, and recognized the need to really understand the industry before attempting a business plan.  He worked for three months at Cornell University, literally living with about 700 cows, before moving on to work at a butcher shop for about a month.  He left the butcher shop to work part-time at Nichols and part-time at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture.   He learned what he could, and then set about creating his business.

Unique in the meat industry, Jake ensures that each of the products he sells is labeled with the name of the farm it came from.  “We take traceability to the extreme.  If you have all these great farms, why not highlight them?” he reasoned.  “If I put everything under my name, I’d be cheapening the product, removing the local flair.  Why not highlight the inconsistency – of what cuts are available, from what farms – as a differentiating factor, instead of a liability?”  Of course, the business is still young, and Jake can only predict his reasoning will turn the requisite profit.  “It all sounds good,” he said, “but it’s still an experiment.  Ninety percent of our customers don’t care about the details of their meat source at all.  Eight percent are interested, but really just want to know the name of the farm.  It’s only about two percent that actually look into the details that I provide.”

The farms Jake works with all meet his baseline criteria, but vary otherwise.  Some of the meat is organic, some isn’t, and most of his beef comes from Wrighteous Organics, where the cows are fed on grain (not grass).  “Most people aren’t interested in grass-fed,” Jake said.  “Grass-fed beef isn’t nearly as fatty, or marbled.  It doesn’t look as good in the package.  I buy less of it because it sells less.”  For the moment, Jake also sells only frozen meats, although he hopes to be selling fresh in the fall.

Neither nostalgic nor necessarily innovative, Jake referred several times to the mix of old school and new school practices in his work.  “It’s most important to be authentic,” he said, “to preserve the local flair.”  Sometimes that means recognizing the history of our regional meat industry, the old-fashioned butcher shops and neighborhood relationships, and sometimes it means encouraging the local and creative, the entrepreneurial.  One might call his small-scale slaughterhouses old-fashioned, Jake mentioned, but then “rotational grazing is great, and that’s more of a new thing.”

Jake’s prices are surprisingly affordable, an advantage he attributes to the structure of his supply chain: farmers — slaughterhouses – Farmstand — consumer.  Acting as middleman between producer and consumer, Jake runs his business such that prices stay reasonable, and yet maintains a personal relationship with his sources that he can convey to his customers.  Jake explained that his farmers don’t necessarily have the time to spend a day in the city, but that their relationship with Dickson’s enables them to reach urban consumers.

While he can sell high-end cuts at the markets in the city, Jake mentioned the importance of being able to sell every part of each animal.  Working out of a butcher shop would enable him to produce more added value products, like sausage made with fresh ingredients, so he might achieve true nose to tail sales (and eating).

Of course, Jake hopes his business will take off, and scale up.  He rattled of the system he has ready to make this growth possible.  “We have a custom-built database prepared,” he said.  “Eventually, if we grow enough, the meat will be scanned in at the slaughterhouse [to maintain traceability], and then sold online through direct marketing and direct delivery.  We’ll sell steer-by-steer.  Customers will be able to see which parts of an animal are available, and will be able to buy only those parts left, until the whole animal has been sold.”

Jake is currently working on the renovation and revitalization of a small butcher shop in Nolita in Manhattan.  “The owner is the great uncle of a girl I knew in high school,” he explained.  “His mom ran the shop till she passed away ten years ago, when she was ninety years old.”  There’s a lot of work to be done on the shop, Jake said, but “the hooks are still hanging from the ceiling, from when animals were slaughtered just outside in the alley, and then butchered in the shop.  You can’t recreate that.”  Of course, there’s also a lot he’ll have to change.  Instead of following the butcher shop family’s tradition of buying from a West side meatpacker, Jake hopes to recreate the shop as a destination for local, sustainable meats.  “It really will be a case of old school meets new school.”

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This post is the first in a series of essays written for the New Amsterdam Market.  Each essay stems from a conversation between the author and a vendor who participated in the New Amsterdam Market of June 29th.  The essays seek to address each vendor’s (food-related) enterprise, to highlight the reality behind their commitment to sustainability, and to convey the voice and personality that they bring to their work.


A conversation with a working chef is usually a somewhat brief, rapid-fire exchange.  You the non-chef must make your point, and make it quick, preferably to the rhythm and speed of vegetable chopping, egg whisking, or bread slicing.  If the chef likes you, he or she might look up. 

Not so a conversation with Caroline Fidanza, chef of Brooklyn restaurants Diner and Marlow & Sons.  Caroline met me with a confident, modest manner, a warm, thoughtful eloquence.  New Amsterdam Market has had a few years to gain her dedicated support and understanding, and sitting at the white chipped tables in the handsomely dark, dim lighting of Marlow & Sons, I was charmed by her welcoming warmth, her glow of youth and experience.


Diner opened in 1998, on Broadway and Berry Street, a sunny Brooklyn corner jutting from the shade of the Williamsburg Bridge.  Caroline has been the executive chef from day one.  “The values of using fresh, local foods had been instilled in me while working at Savoy,” she said, and Diner’s owners Andrew Tarlow and Mark Firth needed no persuasion to prioritize these values in their new restaurant.  Beyond being a result of her own influence, Caroline mentioned, Diner’s farm-to-restaurant sourcing really began when Andrew’s father-in-law started organic farming in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  “He introduced us to the community of Amish farmers there, and suddenly we really had access to better product.”  Ten years ago, Caroline explained, farmers weren’t delivering to the city quite like they are now.  “We went to the Greenmarket and bought what we could,” she said, “but when it came down to it, there just wasn’t enough room in the car!  We really needed the farmers coming to us.” 

Marlow & Sons, Andrew and Mark’s second restaurant, opened next door to Diner in 2004.  Both locations serve lunch and dinner, on tables in and outdoors.  Caroline and I sat inside, where the warm lighting reflects off bottle-lined shelves and mirrors, and chalkboards list the offerings of the day.  The July 11th menu included a soup of Kale-Ricotta Tortellini in a Vegetable Broth with Parm & Basil; a list of sandwiches: French Egg Salad, Italiano, Pressed Fontina, and Pork Tenderloin; and various plates, including toast with house-made nut butter, quiche, charcuterie, chicken liver pate, and a market salad.  There were cheeses available from New York, Virginia, and Oregon.  For desert: house made strawberry ice cream with a brown butter cornmeal cookie.

To reach Marlow & Sons’ back room of tables, one must walk through a shop in the front, where they sell cheeses from upstate New York, Vermont, and Pennsylvania, local honeys and yogurt, milk, fruit, vegetables, granola, and pastries and sandwiches made in house.  They also carry Fra’Mani sausages from Berkeley, imported mozzarella, various specialty sea salts, Rancho Gordo beans and lentils, pastas, olive oils, grains, coffee, popcorn, canned tomatoes, and olives.  Asked how these products are selected for the shop, Caroline explained that the offerings cater to the needs of a kitchen, but reflect the increasing availability of local products.  “We want to have products that complement our regional food, like olive oil, and sea salts, but we are also switching out everything that’s not local as it becomes available from nearby.”

The shop also sells the Diner Journal, a publication that was, until recently, written and designed entirely by the staff of the two restaurants.  Originally created in lieu of a cookbook, the quarterly magazine contains articles about various food products, recipes, and related artwork.  Writing for the journal “helps all of us think on a much broader level,” Caroline mentioned.  “I learn something every time we put it together.  Like the practice of grafting an apple tree.  I just never thought about it, but you have to graft very tree!  That’s so much work!”  

The crew at Marlow & Sons and Diner has supported New Amsterdam Market since the very first market event in 2005.  “I remember the first time I really understood the New Amsterdam Market vision for the Seaport,” Caroline said.  “I was immediately sold, from that first minute.  It’s ridiculous that New York doesn’t have a permanent market like in San Francisco and London.”  Caroline recognized that she doesn’t normally work at markets, but that she feels “the New Amsterdam Market serves our interest in extending our community.  Ultimately,” she said, “the individuals here at Marlow, and those working to create the Market…we all really believe in each other.”  She remembered the heirloom apples, chocolate producers, and Hamptons honey of the first New Amsterdam Market, at the Municipal Building.  Marlow donated house-made ice cream.  “But that day was more about individual producers promoting their own businesses,” she said.  “This past Sunday [June 29th], it felt more like the vendors came together, to promote the Market itself.”

Caroline emphasized the community element of the “sustainability” she feels will be encouraged by the New Amsterdam Market.  A strong force behind her commitment to regional foods is a feeling of loyalty to New York State.  “I’m looking to New York to rally together,” she said, “to have it’s own economy of food production.  This city forgets it’s connected to the state!  New York State is struggling, and has been for a long time.  I will always choose stuff from New York, even if New Jersey is closer.”  Raised in upstate New York, Caroline admits to thinking her hometown Poughkeepsie “was the worst!” when she was growing up.  Now of course, she wishes New Yorkers would take more pride in the food produced in their State.  She is sure the farmers and producers in the state would rally, if there might be a consortium with a place, a Market of sorts, where the economy could thrive and the community might gain strength.

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The season has changed, and the Seaport story has progressed.  Last December, as the cheese-grilling minion of the Saxelby table, I became one with the New Amsterdam Market.  My unsuspecting frozen fingers flew round the knives and boards and cheese and pickles with a contagious rhythm, a pulse of energy I’d caught from the stands, the purveyors, the foods, and the crowd.  We, together, were a Market, with a life of our own.


Yesterday, we the Market, hoping for the embrace of a City, took a leap, within the wonderful, invigorating process of courting New York.  The rhythm pulsed as before, and again, coaxed the City to dance.  The bell rang, and we knew it was time. 


We demonstrated our love!

The bakers borrowed knives and cutting boards to fill their baskets of samples in time; the cheesemongers welcomed assistance as gurus and gluttons piled round their tables; the farmers rattled off the retellings of their stories, explaining once again the locations of their farms, by the Finger Lakes, or the Appalachians, or the ocean to the East.  The popsicle makers dished out frozen cups of rhubarb, and strawberries, giggling in their green-striped shirts; and the caterers gracefully demonstrated their enviable experience with crowds.  Your strolling bellies began to bustle and jostle for tastes, and to fill with sliced loaves as they rounded the bakers dozen: a peasant bread of hearty grains and sea salt played neighbor to a soft dough filled with pistachios and rhubarb, offered next over from a country round encased in thick crust, embedded with olives.  Watering mouths quickly emptied little cups and bowls,vessels of frittata slices with greens, mussels and broth, white beans with chunks of chorizo.  The youthful smiles over the Bent Spoon coolers passed down the joys of ice creams, of sweet basil and goat cheese, blueberry maple syrup, strawberry crème fraiche, and sweet, cinnamon-ripe ricotta.  Homemade sodas and strong, iced coffee relieved the humid, sticky limbs that piled into the square, filing past the skyscrapers on foot or wheel, rushing ‘cross the river by boat or bridge.  Hunger surrendered, to Jimmy’s $3 toasts with guinea hen, radishes, and walnuts; to flats of foccaccia from Hot Bread Kitchen; to lavender cookies, and quiches, and honey straight from Queens.  Dry ice melted as St. Brigid’s women sold veal chops, John passed out sausages, and Anita butchered her Bo Bo chickens before the City’s eyes.  Frank served razor clam ceviche, elegantly scooped with a razor clam from a copper bowl larger than my fridge at home, and Tom offered up his Ronnybrook butters and yogurts to the masses of grateful, devoted devourers.  Nova and Les emptied their baskets of gathered, glorious goods, and Darren Pettigrew sold perfect, pearly oysters.  Barbara Mensch signed her books of photographs, her captured moments of the fabled Fish Market before it left our hoped-for buildings vacant.


The rhythm of the Market only quickened with the pounding of the rain on the highway ‘bove our heads.  The energy within us, the Market, proved how very much we need, beyond Greenhorns stickers and pretty pamphlets, an authentic, permanent place to share, and nurture, our healthy, pulsing passion.  It is our rhythm – one of health, community, and hard-working pride – that will strengthen the heartbeat of the New York public.  We need the City.  We are devoted to your land, your river, your bridges and highways, and to the jolts of our bicycles in the gaps between your Seaport cobblestones.  We need you more than once a season.  We need a permanent home, where you might learn, and dance to, our evolving, perpetual rhythm.


New York, we are yours.  Ask to have the Market back!  And we will come to stay forever.   

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