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Greenmarket Coming to Turtle Bay June 14
By Bill Huxley

Several days each week, long before sunrise, hundreds of farmers set out in their trucks, transporting the fresh-picked bounty of the land. Their destination? Greenmarkets in New York City.

The market at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Park will open on June 14 and will be located at the Second Avenue end of the park. The eight participating farmers will park their trucks along the curb on 47th Street, and set up their tables under the trees near the benches. The farm stands will run from Second Avenue to the Holy Family Church, and will be open every Wednesday until November 22, dawn until dusk.

Turtle Bay members will be receiving announcements of the Grand Opening. It should be quite a bash with Commissioners Henry Stern and Adrian Benepe presiding.

To markets throughout the city's parks and squares, the farmers bring an irresistible cornucopia of nutritious seasonal food: golden squash, green lettuces, red and yellow peppers, purple eggplants, and much more. Peach cobblers will doubtless be gracing Turtle Bay tables this summer. Come autumn there will be pumpkins, so Jack-O-Lanterns should abound locally for Halloween.

Greenmarket is also a delightful assortment of farm products such as baked goods (apple pies baked by farmers' wives), preserves, honey, maple syrup, fruit juices, eggs, and locally made cheeses and salad dressings. There will also be fresh flowers, plants and herbs. No meat, fish, or poultry will be offered for sale this year.

As expected, the prospect of a farmers' market right here in Turtle Bay has been met by almost universal enthusiasm. At the April meeting of Turtle Bay Business Associates, all of the restaurant owners were looking forward to having such a convenient source of fresh produce.

Anne Saxon-Hersh, president of Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Park, the organization that proposed the Greenmarket for the park, noted, "During the period when the park design was being debated, people would ask why we needed such a big plaza and grumble that it would only encourage demonstrations. We tried to offer a vision of other ways the plaza would serve the neighborhood-one of these was a Greenmarket. Whenever we said the word, it was magic. People got very excited.

"Once the park was completed, I called Tony Mannetta, who directs the program for Council on the Environment of NYC. Once Tony laid eyes on our new park, he was sold, and he really went to work for us, addressing concerns raised by Community Board 6 and meeting with community representatives to work out the logistics.

"I personally love Greenmarkets. Not only do you get to meet the farmers, you get the best quality and variety for an unbeatable price. A whole range of specialty produce - the most tender, flavorful greens, heirloom tomatoes that taste homegrown, potato varieties served in the finest restaurants, even specialty garlic. The Greenmarket movement has helped the small farmer survive and I'm thrilled that we are participating in this environmental program."

For people who live in the neighborhood, the benefits can go beyond convenient shopping. A young mother who brought her toddler to the park last week said that she values the market as a place to teach her children about the natural order of things. "I think of the greenmarket as a place where children in the community can have an opportunity to talk to the farmers and learn what life is like on an American family farm."

Farmers put a lot of effort into growing our food and are usually very responsive when customers take an interest in how it is produced. They are all from farms of less than 200 acres, and most live in upstate New York.

In past years small farms such as these dominated the landscape of the Northeastern United States. More recently roads and construction have buried millions of acres of fertile soil beneath cement and asphalt. The remaining small farms are struggling to survive, but programs like Greenmarket are definitely helping to extend their lives.

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The Turtle Bay Association is a nonprofit (501c3) community organization.

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