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Queens Chronicle


Farmers Market buzz

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Posted: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 10:30 am

Queens has plenty to feel green about.

With the last mountains of snow finally melted into memory, what better way to make the most of the vitamin-rich spoils of spring than by visiting one of the borough’s many green markets?

Markets offering up fresh produce and other edible goods aren’t a foreign concept to New Yorkers; there are more than 50 open-air markets that are part of the nonprofit GrowNYC’s Greenmarket program, which has been operating since the 1970s. Its aim is to provide spaces for small family farmers to sell in.

In Queens there are three year-round markets: one on Sunnyside’s Skillman Avenue between 42nd and 43rd streets, open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays; one in Jackson Heights on 34th Avenue and 78th Street, open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays; and another open on the same hours on Sundays in Forest Hills, in front of the post office at 70th Avenue and Queens Boulevard.

“Lots of herbs are coming,” said Tenzin Kunga, who mans the Gajeski Farm stand in Sunnyside on Saturdays and in Forest Hills on Sundays. He gestured toward heaps of parsley and basil. The Riverhead, LI-based farm’s stand also features squash with delicate blossoms.

Kunga said the wet weather this last winter created rich soil that encourages a wealth of crops to thrive, such as scallions, leeks, swiss chard and elephant garlic.

A sea of pastel-hued pansies that swayed in the breeze wafting around Sunnyside’s market last Saturday was greeted by several patrons roaming by.

“It’s so nice to see these here,” said one woman, a Sunnyside resident. “This winter was too long.”

The emphasis on greens carried over to the nearby Hot Bread Kitchen stand, which offers breads from across the world, including a kale cheddar onion flatbread, Armenian lavash and Indian naan.

Those at the stand for Millport Dairy, based in Lancaster County, Pa., said shoppers should look out for spring butter over the next month, which is especially rich. For those who want to balance fresh produce with preserved ones, the dairy also sells pickled vegetables, including beets and okra. The jars, gleaming like gems, are lined up beside fresh eggs.

In Forest Hills, the Ithaca-based Blue Oyster Cultivation, which sells a mesmerizing array of mushroom species, offers a dazzling wealth of exotic looking mushrooms. While BOC’s harvest is year-round, last weekend was its season debut. Golden oyster mushrooms, appearing meaty and velveteen, can be served with spring vegetables.

Also at Forest Hills Greenmarket, Garden of Eve, based in Suffolk County, sported a sunny selection of flowers, including fiery orange tulips and vermilion daffodils. There will be more in future weeks.

The Jackson Heights market also boasts mounds of veggies, such as radishes and green onions, from the Burlington County, NJ-based Lani’s Farm. Honey and other apiary-based products such as candles are another draw for spring, when blooms encourage production; Nature’s Way Farms offers honey made in Chemung County, NY.

There will be more greenmarkets sprouting up in Queens: on Tuesdays at Elmhurst Hospital starting June 2; on Saturdays in Long Island City’s Socrates Sculpture Park starting June 6; on Wednesdays in Astoria, on 14th Street and 31st Road; and on Fridays at 103rd Street and Roosevelt Avenue in Corona starting July 3.

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