Union Square Greenmarket Reopens Today at Madison Square, Other Locations Follow Suit
Under brilliant sunny skies, but near-frigid temps, the Union Square Greenmarket reopened today for the first time since Hurricane Sandy. Not at its usual 14th Street location -- which is being used as a Con Ed parking lot -- but just off Madison Square at the intersection of Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and 23rd Street. Seventeen other markets came back as well in the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. Perhaps most amazingly, the St. George Greenmarket in Staten Island, near the ferry terminal and not far from some massive hurricane destruction, reopened as well.
For the relief of those devastated by the storm, a "Buy-a-Bag" program was up and running, offering market patrons the chance to purchase a bag of produce to be distributed through city programs to those in need. (Meanwhile, a massive food distribution program was underway from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the corner of Avenue D and East 10th Street, mainly for those stranded for nearly a week in the high-rise city housing projects east of Avenue D, with no electricity, elevator service, heat, gas, or running water.)
I had a conversation with Michael Hurwitz, director of the city's Greenmarket program, who was presiding at the market tent in the triangle north of 23rd Street. "We've got 32 or so farmers here, instead of the usual 75 to 80. We don't have much protein today [referring to providers of meat and dairy], because of the short notice." Apparently, the decision to go ahead with the market at the temporary location was a last-minute one, partly motivated by the return of electricity to the neighborhood yesterday.
The Greenmarket's regular location is a parking lot.
He went on: "The Montauk fish people are not here, either. Though Long Island was hard hit by the storm, their boats apparently sustained little damage, but the fish processing facility in Long Island City is still not operational."
Other farmers I talked to reported minimal damage, though Norwich Meadows Farm in Norwich, New York, sustained destruction of its greenhouses. Stokes Farm in Tappan, New Jersey, said storm destruction was limited to lots of downed trees.
For a list of the greenmarkets open this weekend, see next page.