Posts tagged farmers

What a Difference a Year Makes: The Carroll Gardens Farmers’ Market

I know it might seem crazy to write about food with all this election madness going on, but I can’t help it. I just got back from voting, I’m too jittery to sit still, and I can’t bring myself to watch any election coverage just yet. So, in an effort to calm myself down while hoping for the best, I thought I’d write a post about a subject I’ve had on my mind for the past few months: my local farmers’ market.

As some of you already know, last year Carroll Gardens finally got its own farmers’ market. Starting in July 2007, a few tables of vegetables and fruit lined a short stretch of Carroll Street between Court and Smith Streets every Sunday through last November. While I lamented the lack of cheese, meat, and fish vendors, I remained optimistic for these changes in the future. I figured that once the market became more established, perhaps we would see more vendors on the block.

Well, it pays to think positively, because our little market has expanded quite a bit in just one year. Now when I make my weekly visit to Carroll Street, I bring two bags and indulge in a variety of local food products.

Similar to my shopping pattern from last year, I begin by stocking up on fruit from Fishkill Farms. While over the summer I focused on fresh plums and peaches, in October I scooped up apples and pears. My next move is usually towards the piles of fresh greens and other vegetables from Alex Farm as I supplement my CSA shipment with whatever other produce I might need for the week. Jim seems to prefer the vegetables from W. Rogowski Farm, so in the end we actually wind up supporting several stands at the market. I can’t forget my weekly chocolate croissant from Amy’s Bread, although sometimes I try to be healthy and buy a loaf of whole-grain bread as well.

But in addition to all of the wonderful produce and baked goods, we can now peruse products from various local meat, fish, dairy, and cheese vendors. About a month ago, Jim and I bought grass-fed, spicy Angus sausages from Grazin’ Angus Acres for the first time. We broiled them, sliced them up, and cooked them on top of one of our homemade pizzas. Raised without antibiotics or hormones, this beef was happily enjoyed with less guilt than usual. Grazin’ Acres’s sausages were so earthy and full-flavored that Jim and I went back for one of their grass-fed chickens a few weeks later.

I’ve yet to buy fish from Seatuck Fish Company, or pasture-raised eggs from Fishkill Farms, but both are on my list. Once in a while I’ll pick up some goat cheese from Consider Bardwell Farm, and a few weeks ago local honey was for sale. There are so many options, I find it’s impossible to try them all at once.

On another note, I’ve also enjoyed seeing how our farmers’ market has increased its role in the community. Every Sunday the lines seem to stretch longer and longer at each stand. A few months ago a chef from the soon-to-open restaurant Buttermilk Channel prepared a fresh vegetable pickle for the market’s shoppers. On this past Sunday, piles of mussels from Seatuck Fish Company were being prepared at one of the stands, encouraging people to linger and enjoy the day with each other.

So as you can see, our little farmers’ market has grown quite a bit in a year. I may not have tried the wares from every stand, but it’s not a problem; I have something new to look forward to every week. I just hope I can get through the rest of election day…

The Carroll Gardens Farmers Market, located on Carroll Street between Smith and Court. It runs on Sundays from July through November.

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Sunday Shopping at the New Amsterdam Market

Last weekend I spent most of my time racing against raindrops, trying to schedule outdoor activities amid the ever-present threat of extreme downpours. On Sunday Jim and I managed to explore the New Amsterdam Market at South Street Seaport before another round of thunderstorms arrived later in the day.

Sweet Cherries from the New Amsterdam Market

This was the third gathering of local farmers, purveyors, distributors, bakers, and chefs. The New Amsterdam Public Market Association’s goal is to permanently dedicate both the New Market Building and the adjacent Tin Building to a sustainably-produced, regional food market. The two buildings have been vacant since the Fulton Fish Market relocated in 2005.

Sunday’s food gathering was held in front of the Market Building, where the vendors displayed an amazing variety of products. It’s impossible to talk about all of the participants, so I’ll just highlight some of our favorite stops along the way.

Eggs from the New Amsterdam Market

We first visited the Ronnybrook Farm stand, where I tried their sweet and creamy Peach Yogurt drink. A few rows over, Hudson Valley Fresh treated us to their cool and flavorful whole and chocolate milks. They supply Ronnybrook Farm with their milk, which I took as an encouraging example of a local and sustainable relationship between two food producers. I didn’t try much cheese at the market—it was just so hot that I didn’t feel like it—but it was certainly well represented by purveyors such as Saxelby Cheesemongers.

Cranberry Pecan Bread at the New Amsterdam Market

Moving on from the dairy-based products, I tried some fresh gazpacho from McEnroe Organic Farm and tasted some beautiful, textural loaves of bread at the extensive bread pavilion. Later I topped it all off with a blue-straw-berry lavender sorbet from The Bent Spoon, and a summery bite of strawberry shortcake from the chefs at Centovini.

Marlow & Sons at the New Amsterdam Market

Although fresh fruits and vegetables were represented at the market, Jim and I were surprised by the focus on artisanal foodstuffs and purveyors. The New Amsterdam Market’s website makes some interesting points on the importance of purveyors such as Marlow & Sons and their relationships with producers and consumers. Just as creating a food product is a crucial aspect of the market system, so is having the knowledge of sourcing, preparing, and selling food.

I didn’t buy any meat from the vendors at the market, although the free tote bag from Bo Bo Chicken helped me carry all the free publications I collected during my tour, as well as a container of Health Shoppe’s organic popcorn, a bottle of Swarmbustin’ honey, and a box of sweet cherries. From the crowds I saw on Sunday, there’s no shortage of enthusiasm for this market. I’m just glad I didn’t eat lunch beforehand.

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