It's just another reason to adopt a healthier diet by eating fresh produce from local and regional farms, attend the market’s events, and support the local economy on Austin Street and Queens Boulevard.
Situated on Queens Boulevard and 70th Avenue, the market has come a long way over two seasons. It is difficult to imagine how a community staple almost did not take root.
But it came to fruition in July 2012, after the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce agreed to Greenmarket’s interest in establishing kiosks along a perpendicular stretch outside the Forest Hills Post Office.
As a result of customer feedback, the 2012 season was extended, and now the 2013 season, which would have ended on December 29, instead is open all year and features new vendors and a diversity of products.
Greenmarket, a program of GrowNYC, started in 1976 with a handful of farmers, and now operates 54 markets citywide with 23 open year-round, and features nearly 240 producers growing on over 30,000 acres of farmland.
“We have a wonderful partnership with the community, and it is because of a very loyal customer base that the market can stay open year round,” said Greenmarket assistant director Cheryl Huber. “Since this is one of two year-round Greenmarkets in Queens, we expect to see other communities visiting Forest Hills this winter to see their favorite farmers and support local businesses.”
Haywood's Fresh, which is the newest vendor in Forest Hills, offers meat products from Columbia County. Garden of Eve joined on December 1, and offers certified organic vegetables from Suffolk County.
Other vendors for the winter include Bread Alone Bakery, Castello di Borghese Vineyard, Dipaola Turkey Farm, Gajeski Produce, Goodale Farms, King Ferry Winery, Pura Vida Fisheries, Red Jacket Orchards, Ronnybrook Farm Dairy, and Terhune Orchards.
Some commenters on the Edge of The City blog were concerned that produce offered during the winter will not be regional or organic, but priced as such. Huber assured the public.
“Greenmarket has very strict ‘producer only’ rules, so everything sold must be grown, caught, and raised by the farmer within an average of 150 miles from the city,” assured Huber. “Customers should also keep in mind that greenhouses, hoop houses, and other improvements made to farms can lengthen a farm's growing season.”
Transforming an underutilized sidewalk into a vibrant community space is one major benefit of a greenmarket. Another benefit is a range of events and programs.
“Customers come out rain or shine and have eagerly participated, whether it’s making a smoothie in a blender powered by a bicycle or tasting freshly made baba ghanoush,” Huber said.
The Winter Warrior customer loyalty program will begin in January and run through March. Patrons who check in at GrowNYC’s market information kiosk for ten weeks will earn a prize.
Last June, BIG!Compost, a program of Build It Green!NYC, along with the Forest-Rego Compost Collective, began accepting food scraps. This will continue from 10 a.m. to noon throughout the winter.
“I am thrilled,” said Eric Muehlbauer of Rego Park of news the market would not close. “The Union Square market has many plant sellers, so I would like to see one or more here. It would be great to have a selection of perennials, annuals, trees and shrubs, and vegetable plants.”
Forest Hills resident Anne Duterme suggested adding free yoga and tai chi events in nearby MacDonald Park.
“Local independent businesses have become vulnerable to rent hikes, so this can be a way for the market and local businesses to have a co-branding opportunity,” she said.