Wither the Greenmarket?
Steve Forest/Insight-Visual for The New York Times
Vendors in New York City Greenmarkets,
like Sprout Creek Farm cheese at Union Square,
can sell only what they raise.
Farmers' Markets Go Beyond Green
By JULIA MOSKIN
Published: May 24, 2006
IN 2004, Nina Planck, who had just been dismissed as director of the New York City Greenmarkets, wrote in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times: "Perhaps it is time Greenmarket itself had some competition."What has to be kept in mind is that the Greenmarket keeps prices fairly low and takes food stamps. Will this hybrid market do the same?
Next month, that meditation will materialize when Ms. Planck opens two outdoor food markets in Lower Manhattan. Every Saturday, these "hybrid" markets, like weekly markets in Europe, will offer more diverse products than a strictly defined farmers' market. With local makers of guacamole and sorbet selling alongside organic farmers, Ms. Planck is striking a symbolic blow at the farmers-only Greenmarket model.
"I think the farmers' market movement has failed consumers in not making it possible to buy everything they need for Saturday night dinner," said Ms. Planck, whose tenure at Greenmarket was short and tumultuous. "It's time to be more inclusive. It all helps local farms find a market."
Many in the alternative agriculture movement are surprised to hear that Ms. Planck, a vocal and frequent defender of the American family farm, will be running a market that could sell guacamole made from Costco avocados.
"It can be very confusing to the public when farmers' markets start looking more like supermarkets," said Randii MacNear, manager of the farmers' market in Davis, Calif., and an expert in farm marketing. "What's the message?"
"For a long time it seemed very simple," said Rena Mikulski, a school administrator in Brooklyn, who was shopping for greens at the Union Square Greenmarket last Wednesday. "Organic was good. Farmers' markets were good. Everything else was not good. Now I don't know how to choose anything. Is it local? Is it sustainable? Is it organic? Which is better? I don't know."
posted by Steve @ 1:20:00 AM