As part of our ongoing NYC Farmers’ Market Interview series, Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center interviewed John Hoffer of Eckerton Hill Farms. To learn more about our NYC Farmers’ Market Interview series or watch other interviews in the series, visit this page.
Food Policy Center (FPC): What’s your name and what farm do you work at?
Farmer John: John Hoffer, I work for Eckerton Hill Farms in Berks County, Pennsylvania.
FPC: Where did you grow up?
Farmer John: In Pennsylvania and Brooklyn, New York
FPC: How did you get involved in this field and in this farm?
Farmer John: Kind of like family, I got involved when the farm started on a rooftop in Brooklyn in the 80’s. So it was when I was a kid growing up, so I was around it. Then after high school I went into the restaurant industry for about 15 years and bought a lot from the farms for the restaurants. Then about 4 years ago I left the restaurant industry and came out to work with the farm.
FPC: Where are your products grown?
Farmer John: 2 hours south of New York in Berks County, Pennsylvania.
FPC: What is your favorite thing about greenmarkets?
Farmer John: Well you know, just offering what we grow, to the customers and the restaurants in New York. Having a good product, no chemicals, no sprays of any kind. So it’s good seeing that, and it’s good to see the customers excited for us to be here.
FPC: Where else do you sell?
Farmer John: We don’t do any other markets besides Union Square. We sell to restaurants all through the city. We sell to several distributors. We sell to some of the top restaurants in Philly, there’s about 10 restaurants we sell to.
FPC: What’s special about your products?
Farmer John: Some of the heirloom varieties we have are very special. With the tomatoes, the owner of the farm, Tim is kind of credited with bringing the heirloom tomato back. Everyone was used to the supermarket, no taste, perfect red round tomatoes. Then also our pepper!
FPC: What is your best selling product?
Farmer John: Our tomatoes for sure! Something we’re sold out of now is the sun gold tomato. It’s a type of cherry tomato, it’s orange and it literally tastes like candy, so that’s something we sell out of really quick.
FPC: What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
Farmer John: Some type of nut, fruit bar.
FPC: What’s your favorite food?
Farmer John: I’m a big fan of West Indian, Jamaican, Trini food, and a huge food of Lebanese.
FPC: If you could choose one last meal on earth, what would it be?
Farmer John: Something to do with shellfish, lobsters, raw oysters, etc.