The NYC Farmers’ Market: A Guide to the City’s Best

The NYC farmers’ market is an urban essential for anyone who appreciates natural, local, and organic foods. These markets offer plenty of reasons to get up early on Saturday mornings and fill up your tote bags with gorgeous produce.

The NYC farmers’ market is an urban essential for anyone who appreciates natural, local, and organic foods. Whether you’re after something specialized and exotic (once-a-year husk cherries, log-grown shiitake mushrooms, or elderberry wine and jams, perhaps?) or more basic staples, these markets offer plenty of reasons to get up early on Saturday mornings and fill up your tote bags with gorgeous produce.

Farmers’ markets help sustain local farms and small businesses like bakeries and butcher shops. In a way, farmers’ markets are sort of like offline social media outlets, drawing all types of people together: Steaming coffee in hand and grocery bags on arm, local residents are encouraged to learn all about food they’re about to purchase while interacting with the people who grew it, baked it, or caught it. Many markets even participate in government food stamp programs, helping ensure that delicious, healthy produce is available to everyone. Here’s a guide to some of the best markets in the city.

Tompkins Square Greenmarket (East Village)

Located on Avenue A between East 7th and 8th Streets, the Tompkins Square Greenmarket may not be one of the larger NYC farmers’ markets, but it’s a favorite of many foodies. There may be fewer than 10 stalls at times, but you’ll find what you need without having to muscle your way through hungry crowds. Farmstead cheese, bottles of milk from grass-fed cows, and sweet-and-tart natural yogurt are just a few of the offerings you’ll find here. Vendors like Tioga County’s B&Y Farms (who sell meat, eggs, yarn) and Dutchess County’s Ronnybrook Farms (dairy) are there year-round, while others like Acevedo Farm (Mexican specialty produce) only show up during the growing season. Sundays, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.

Union Square Greenmarket (Union Square)

If you’ve been in the 14th Street area of the city between Sixth and Fourth Avenues and you’ve never seen the Union Square Greenmarket — well, then, you’re just not looking. It’s huge, taking up the west, north, and a teeny sliver of the east side of the Union Square Park. It’s the NYC farmers’ market that most New Yorkers are familiar with, open year-round, four days a week. Fact: a quarter of a million people per week visit the market during peak season. In addition to all of the fabulous locally produced baked goods, meats, and fruits and vegetables available here, the market also holds special weekly events like tours, tastings, and cooking demonstrations. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, 8 a.m.–6 p.m.

Columbia Greenmarket (Harlem/Morningside Heights)

Columbia University students and St. Luke’s Hospital residents have two things in common: They’re sleep-deprived and they shop at the Columbia Greenmarket. Located on Broadway between 114th and 116th Streets, this market is open Thursdays and Sundays, making it the perfect place to get provisions for the upcoming weekend before rounding back again on Sunday mornings to load up on fruits and veggies for the rest of the week. Thursday’s crowd seems to be mainly students and workers, while the weekend market brings out the strolling families. The market’s got a healthy assortment of year-round vendors, including Madura Farms from Orange County (mushrooms) to Pura Vida Fisheries from Suffolk County (wild-caught fish). The market even collects food scraps for composting. Thursdays and Sundays, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Image Source: Flickr/Bob Wiker

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