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BY ALINE REYNOLDS | Community Board 1 residents that live east of Broadway are demanding a greater number of fresh produce markets in their neck of the woods.
The three greenmarkets that operate on Lower Manhattan’s east side are simply not enough to satisfy the growing residential demand of the South Street Seaport and the eastern portion of the Financial District, according to C.B. 1 Financial District Committee Chair Ro Sheffe, who conveyed the message to GrowNYC at the committee meeting earlier this month.
Sheffe argued that the current greenmarkets are unequally distributed around Lower Manhattan.
“If you take as a benchmark four greenmarkets serving 22,000 residents on the west side of Broadway,” said Sheffe, “we need more than three serving 44,000 people on the east side.”
Committee member and Southbridge Towers resident Mariama James, for one, is yearning for a greater variety of greenmarkets where she can purchase staple cooking ingredients such as fresh salt, olive oil and vegetables.
“Residential growth in the Financial District is at its highest rate, but amenities are at its lowest rate,” said James. “We should have something on this side [of Broadway] other than the Sunday markets at the Seaport.”
Michael Hurwitz, director of GrowNYC’s greenmarket program, which runs four Lower Manhattan greenmarkets west of Broadway, said the nonprofit has come up short thus far in an active search for new sites that would be amenable to produce stands.
“We have spent dozens and dozens of hours looking for a locale east of Broadway,” said Hurwitz, “and we really haven’t found one that would work for a great market.”
Hurwitz and his team are being selective in their quest for new locations, since opening a new market east of Broadway would only be worthwhile if it were poised to be successful, Hurwitz said.
“I wouldn’t want to over saturate the area and take away from the farmers servicing those locations unless it would be worth the while of an extra trip down for a farmer,” added Hurwitz.
GrowNYC appeared before the committee to request approval for a city permit that would grant additional sidewalk space to its market situated at West Broadway between Barclay Street and Park Place. Last fall, the market was transferred from Zuccotti Park, where it had been stationed for seven of the last ten years.
The market gets more foot traffic at the West Broadway site due to its proximity to the PATH station, and it is conveniently located adjacent to the farmers’ parked trucks, according to Hurwitz.
“We were limited to 70 feet at Zuccotti — that doesn’t really provide for a thriving marketplace,” explained Hurwitz. “Here, we’re able to get a few more feet, spread out, and make it a bit more user-friendly.”
In February, GrowNYC will begin to identify new products to sell at the West Broadway market, which now consists of a selection of fruits, vegetables and baked goods.
“Our ultimate goal is to have a presence when the new W.T.C. is opened,” said Hurwitz. “We want to be there with the size and type of market we had pre-9/11, when we had between 18 and 22 tents every day.”
While GrowNYC’s market outside the World Financial Center has struggled since opening in 2010, its greenmarket at Bowling Green has become a hotspot in the community — so much so that it will be expanding in the coming months, according to Hurwitz. Hanover Square resident Renee Kopel, who frequents the market twice a week, said she missed it “terribly” during its one-week hiatus between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Kopel’s favorite snacks from the Bowling Green market are the pumpkin cupcakes and the apple cider donuts.
“We went in search of something decent for breakfast, and everything [else] just looks and tastes processed and is generally more expensive,” said Kopel.
GrowNYC operates year-round greenmarkets at Broadway and Battery Place, Tuesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and at Greenwich St. between Chambers and Duane Sts., Wednesday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. GrowNYC also runs greenmarkets at West Broadway between Barclay Street and Park Place every Tuesday from April 5 to Dec. 20, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and at South End Ave. at Liberty St., inside the cul-de-sac, every Thursday from April 7 to Dec. 22, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, visit www.grownyc.org.