GrowNYC’s Greenmarket Program Ensures New Yorkers Have Access to the Freshest, Most Nutritious Locally Grown Food

by Gabrielle Khalife
Part of the Food Policy Community Spotlight Series

Name: GrowNYC’s Greenmarket program

What they do: Greenmarket operates farmers markets within all 5 boroughs of New York City. Their work includes: (1) the Fresh Pantry Project for which Greenmarket has partnered with City Harvest, New York City Coalition Against Hunger and Food Bank for New York City to donate fresh fruits and vegetables to local food pantries, homeless facilities, soup kitchens and community centers across the city, (2) the Regional Grains Project, which ensures a consistent crop supply and processing infrastructure by giving growers, processors, bakers and chefs the tools to get involved and help grains grow in response to the rising consumer demand for locally grown grains, (3) FARMroots, which provides business and technical assistance to established farmers, as well as training and mentorship opportunities for those interested in starting new farm businesses, (4) Greenmarket Co., New York City’s first and only food hub (defined by the USDA as “a centrally located facility with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products”), which is dedicated to supporting regional food producers by making their products available to wholesale buyers throughout the city, (5) Youthmarket, a network of urban farm stands operated by neighborhood youth and supplied by local farmers, which teaches youth small business skills and increases access to farm fresh food in neighborhoods throughout the city, (6) the Fresh Food Box program, which is a food access initiative that enables underserved communities to purchase fresh, healthy, primarily regionally-grown produce at well below traditional retail prices, and (7) the Wholesale Greenmarket, located in the Bronx, which offers more than 100 local and regional farm-fresh products, a majority of which are harvested less than 24 hours before being brought to market, and are sold directly  by Wholesale Greenmarket vendors who grow their own produce to NYC buyers.

How they do it: More than 200 local farmers, fishers and bakers sell what they grow, raise, catch and bake themselves. Middlemen, or brokers, are not allowed. Since it was founded in 1976,  the Greenmarket program has worked to conserve farmland and ensure a continuing supply of fresh, local produce to New Yorkers.

Mission: Greenmarket, under the auspices of the nonprofit organization GrowNYC, was founded with a two-fold mission: to promote regional agriculture by providing small family farms with the opportunity to sell their locally grown products directly to consumers, and to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to the freshest, most nutritious locally grown food the region has to offer.

Latest project/campaign: (1) Greenmarket programing at Project Farmhouse, a sustainability center and event space that allows New Yorkers to explore and discuss environmental issues through the lens of food, horticulture and art, fostering healthier, greener decisions and actions, (2) opening of seasonal Greenmarkets that run between June and November, (3) a Variety Showcase event in partnership with the Culinary Breeding Network, which is designed as an interactive mixer to build community among plant breeders, organic farmers and eaters, where attendees have the unique experience of tasting new and in-development vegetable, fruit and grain cultivars with the breeders who created them, sharing options, talking about needs and preferences and learning about the importance of organic plant breeding. This event will take place on September 24, 2018. Click here to learn more.

Major Funding: Government, Private and Corporate Grants, Individual Donations and Farmer Fees

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: The budget for GrowNYC (their parent organization) is $12 million

Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect the food system: With more than 50 market locations in all five boroughs, twenty-four of which operate year round, GrowNYC’s Greenmarket program is the largest network of outdoor farmers markets in the country.  The organization also partners with food pantries to address hunger and build community around healthy, local foods. In 2014, Greenmarket producers donated almost 1 million pounds of food to City Harvest, the Food Bank for New York City and other hunger-relief organizations. Further, with support from the Farmers Market Federation of New York, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the City Council, GrowNYC has established a national model for accepting SNAP/EBT at farmers markets, thereby greatly expanding food access in New York City.  Some of the nutrition assistance programs and incentive coupons that are accepted at GrowNYC’s Greenmarket program sites include (1) SNAP/EBT (2) Health Bucks (3) Greenmarket Bucks (4) Fresh Connect Coupons (5) Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program Checks and (6) WIC Fruit and Vegetable Checks. In 2017, more than $1 million in SNAP sales were processed at Greenmarkets along with more than $400,000 in Health Bucks, in partnership with the New York City Department of Health.

FACT SHEET:

Location:

Farmers markets throughout the five boroughs of New York City 

Find a Greenmarket here (click “Show/hide a text of all Greenmarket locations.)

Core Programs:

Retail markets

Fresh Pantry Project

Regional Grains Project

FARMroots

Greenmarket Co.

Youthmarket

Fresh Food Box

Wholesale Greenmarket

Number of staff: 70

Number of volunteers: 240

Areas served: Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan

Year Started: 1976

Director: Michael Hurwitz

Contact Information: [email protected]

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