With summer in full swing and people celebrating the warm weather and outdoor activities, one of the latest events that residents of Flatbush can enjoy is the farmers market at the Parkside Plaza.
The farmers market, which launched July 19, is being held on Sundays from 8am to 4pm and will run through November 22. It is located directly in front of the Parkside Avenue subway stop, at the intersection of Parkside and Ocean Avenues. The farms involved at the Parkside market include:Bakers Bounty, B&Y Farms, Goodale Farms, Nature’s Way Farm, Maynard Farms & Orchards, and Race Farm. Each stand is helping to bring fresh, locally-sourced fruits, vegetables, baked goods, meats, cheeses, eggs and honey at a reasonable price to the area.
Although this is not the first farmer’s market to be held at Parkside, it is first one that GrowNYC — a nonprofit that provides greenmarkets, gardens and other environmental projects throughout the five boroughs — has been involved in at this location.
The previous farmers market at Parkside was organized through the efforts of Seeds in the Middle, a local organization that was founded by former journalist Nancie Katz and principal Solomon Long. One of the main goals of Seeds in the Middle was to help local teens learn about nutrition and job opportunities. With the same elements in mind, GrowNYC was founded in 1970 and has sought to change the quality of life in the city through an array of environmental programs, including the greenmarket on Cortelyou Road and the youthmarket at Flatbush Junction.
The greenmarket idea was started in 1976 as part of GrowNYC and has become an important presence among farmers markets within the five boroughs. Through the greenmarket initiative, small family farms within the tri-state area are invited to come and sell their products to costumers in the city. The greenmarket model not only helps to promote regional agriculture but it also allows people to have access to food that is locally grown and is available when it is at its freshest.
The farmers market at Parkside Plaza is helping to further these efforts, and such an initiative can be seen directly in the farmers and products they are selling. All of the participating farms are located within the region, with the majority of them being from New York state. B&Y Farms for example, which is located in Spencer, a town near the Finger Lakes region, is bringing some of the best meat, poultry and eggs available to this area. This is their first time participating in a Brooklyn greenmarket, but they have operated a stall in the Union Square Market for the past several years.
At the B&Y Farm stand you can find whole and half chickens, sausage, pork belly, lamb and an assortment of other meat items and eggs. Catlin Prentke, who is a Flatbush resident but is originally from London, was very excited to find lamb at the market this past Sunday.
“They had ground lamb!” Prentke exclaimed. “That’s almost impossible to find in America! I am mostly excited about the high quality of meat they had here.” Prentke planned to make lamb burgers with her farmer’s market find.
Prentke went onto say that the market is “good for the neighborhood, because there’s already loads of supermarkets — but this of better quality.”
The resident’s enthusiasm is also shared by the farmers as well. Thomas Maynard owner of Maynard Farms and Orchards, located in Ulster, New York, is excited to be bringing his assortment of berries and tree fruits to the markets. Maynard, who bought his farm in 1992, has been participating in greenmarkets across the city for the past two years but has been involved in farmers markets for the past twenty years. Maynard also comes from a family of farmers whose grandparents on both sides were dairy farmers in New Hampshire in the 1950s and 60s.
“I have never in 20 years of doing farmers markets had such a heartfelt welcome to any market as I did in Parkside,” Maynard said.
It is this kind of relationship between the farmers and shoppers which make going to the greenmarket such a unique experience. The farmers get to see first hand what kind of impact their food has on the community while also giving them access to quality products — the essential things GrowNYC seeks to do. Flatbush residents are excited to have another farmers market and are looking forward to the months of delicious shopping ahead.
For more information about the Parkside Plaza market, you can visit its website.
About the author: Anni Irish is a Brooklyn-based writer who has lived in the Prospect Park South neighborhood since 2012. A graduate of New York University, Simmons College and Tufts University, Anni’s work has been featured in a variety of publications including New York Arts Magazine, Bomb Magazine and Tattoo Artist Magazine. She is currently developing a manuscript on the history of freak show culture and American female tattooing practices.