Union haul! Vendors upset over city plan to relocate McCarren greenmarket

The Brooklyn Paper
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The produce sellers in McCarren Park’s farmers market certainly have green thumbs — but the city says they’ve also got blood on their hands.

The blood of innocent blades of grass, that is.

The Parks Department is planning to uproot the popular Greenmarket from the corner of Bedford Avenue and Lorimer Street and plant it on the asphalt of Union Avenue because the farmers’ tents, tables, and customers have turned patches of grass into plots of dirt.

“The grass is in very bad condition over there — very brown and compacted — so we’d like to spruce up that area by re-seeding the park’s entrance,” said Parks spokesman Phil Abramson, who confirmed that his agency is planning to close the block between Bayard and Driggs to traffic to make room for the produce sellers.

“Every other Greenmarket in the city is on a paved area,” he added. “We suggested they relocate to a paved area in the park.”

But many of McCarren Park’s fruit, vegetable, bread, honey, cheese and condiment merchants say the grass won’t be any greener on Union Avenue — and not just because they’ll be located on a paved street.

“I’m very disappointed in the move, because I really feel like we’ve been an instrumental part in creating the vibrant community that is there now,” said Justone Bossert of Red Jacket Orchards, who worried that the welcoming environment would be stifled by the concrete jungle.

“If we’re outside of the park, it would completely disrupt the sort of community atmosphere that has developed where people sit down around us and hang out,” he added. “It would be very unappealing to sit down on asphalt.”

Farmers also said they prefer the current location — which is near bustling Bedford and Manhattan avenues as well as the Nassau Avenue G train station — because it draws in a steady stream of visitors.

They doubt that the proposed location — on a street that bisects the park and is near the Park’s Greendome Garden, community supported agricultural cooperative, outdoor concession stand, and handball and bocce courts — will attract as many shoppers.

Greenmarkets Director Michael Hurwitz told The Brooklyn Paper that moving the dozen or so venders is not an “insurmount­able challenge,” but farmers fear the move because past relocations have been accompanied by sales droughts.

“In the short term, any move of a market means that we are going to lose some of the natural foot traffic, and it also requires additional staff time and resources so that we can have signage and banners and maps, and additional staff in the older location to encourage people to go the new location,” he said.

Shoppers echoed the farmers’ concerns.

“It would be a bad thing,” said Rebecca Green of Greenpoint. “I probably wouldn’t go over there as often.”

Greenpoint resident Luis Roman agreed.

“Over here, it’s easily accessible. Union Avenue is less convenient,” he said.

Not every move of a farmers’ market has been bad news for the growers.

Several years ago, the Parks Department relocated the McCarren Greenmarket from a spot near the entrance at Lorimer Street and Driggs Avenue to its current location, which many venders claim is better for business.

But many farmers remain fearful that the move to Union Avenue might turn out to be rotten.

“We’re located at the most-trafficked area in this park. Moving us would disconnect the market from the rest of the park,” said Joel Klose, a honey-seller from Lowman, New York. “It may be the end of this market.”

Updated 5:13 pm, July 9, 2018: Story was updated at 11:11 am to correct misspelling of Michael Hurwitz.
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Reasonable discourse

Sunny from Williamsburg says:
So why can't the parks department just cover the farmers market area with mulch and let the vendors stay where they are?
June 16, 2009, 10:17 am
kate from greenpoint says:
Absolutely, any move will interrupt business, but the truth is that many of the folks who frequent the greenmarket will have no problem walking the 500 feet across the park to the southern edge. truthfully, it's probably going to be a great thing for the greenmarket. The abundance of tables and chairs will increase shoppers' desire to hang out and around the sellers. I just wonder how luis and the staff at Urban Rustic feel about the competition.....
June 16, 2009, 10:44 am
Suri from Williamsburg says:
Everone is worrying about one benefit and income producing and disregarding the environment.
June 16, 2009, 11:05 am
Suri from Williamsburg says:
People are whining and whining.... and only care about their profits and own benefits
June 16, 2009, 1:25 pm
Sassy from Williamsburg says:
People are whining and whining.... and only care about their profits and own benefits
June 16, 2009, 1:26 pm
bk from williamsburg says:
the parks dept gave some prime real estate to newcomers having a flea market--why can't they be over on union, and their space can go to the farmer's market?
June 16, 2009, 1:46 pm
Vinnie from Williamsburg says:
The parks' maintenance is paid for by our tax money for our benefit and our children's benefit. I hardly feel sympathy for out of towners seeking the right to take away the little green space we have on weekends, so that they can sell expensive vegetables, pocket the money, and hightail it out of town at dusk. Why should our taxes subsidize this? Parks are for kids to play around, not for commerce. You can't whine about the lack of green space and support a green market clogging up the end of the park. They should find a church or elementary school parking lot, as those places will gladly host them (the way they host flea markets).
June 16, 2009, 4:26 pm
driggser says:
Wherever they move, patrons will find them. The Union location will be great for them, plenty of foot traffic. They are just afraid of change.
June 16, 2009, 5:40 pm
Reverb says:
Why don't the vendors move back to the Lorimer & Driggs entrance? It was just paved last summer, and the tents won't kill the grass.
June 16, 2009, 5:43 pm
Accolae from Williamsburg says:
I don't understand the complaining. I go to this market almost every Saturday and its often unpleasantly muddy, so a better surface would be nice. I also think there is more traffic on Union, I always felt like they we're tucked away in the corner with no exposure.
June 16, 2009, 5:51 pm
Laura Hofmann from Greenpoint says:
If the City demapped the small piece of Union Ave that runs through McCarreen as parkland, they City could actually leave the street for such uses. Having the market there would actually compliment the new picnic tables.

The damapping study is in the Rezoning points of agreement.
June 16, 2009, 7:05 pm
old-timer from greenpoint says:
I like the idea of moving the hipster flea vendors over to union and putting the greenmarket where they are. wonder if OSA reads these boards or just does whatever it wants.
June 17, 2009, 10:28 am
teresa from greenpoint says:
The Union Avenue demapping is not part of the rezoning points of agreement - that was applicable to Driggs and Lorimer adjacent to the park. All the same, it would be great to demap that portion of Union for these kinds of activities.

I think the market people are overreacting. The Union location is a block away from the current location -- and definitely nicer in the summer because it's shaded by trees and not muddy or dusty, and it will be nice to snack at the nearby tables and check out the Greendome garden. I think the move will be fine.
June 17, 2009, 7:44 pm
Greenmarket regular from Greenpoint says:
Not to worry, I'll go where the greenmarket goes, and I think most greenmarket shoppers will do the same -- we're a loyal bunch. The Green Dome Garden is a bonus.

Kate: Luis will be fine -- probably will increase business there. I am worrying about Lokal, which is finally finding its niche and customers. Without the market, they'll lose some flow.

Vinnie: These aren't greedy businesses taking locals for a ride, they are mostly from NY and bringing us delicious food from the source. Prices are prices -- some good, some not so good. I shop around, get some things at the greenmarket, others at my bodega or grocery. And the greenmarket is kid-friendly -- kids seem to love it! :-)
June 18, 2009, 8:05 am
guess who from Williamsburg says:
Old timer: Moving the Greenmarket to the paved pathways around the Field House is not logistically feasible. Most of the farmers' booths are more than 10 feet deep. The pathways suggested are not wide enough for the farmers alone, nevermind that plus adequate pedestrian clearance.

Even if it was feasible, it would not resolve the primary issue of the safety of large trucks with blind spots rolling through the park during its peak usage on Saturday afternoon. This is not allowed for other events on McCarren's ballfields, nor most other city parks.

BK: The artists' market is actually contributing more than their required fees as a donation to our local parks.

Lastly, Parks and OSA have offered to help in several ways, from suggesting an additional (not replacement, but additional) location for a new CB1 Greenmarket, to assisting with promoting the new McCarren location.

The new location will allow to Greenmarket to expand within McCarren, with improved public safety, while allowing us to re-green and beautify the park.
June 21, 2009, 11:16 pm
Mello from Greenpoint says:
Understandably, green grass is very appealing and may bring in traffic to the park, but only if they manage to push the rest of those fruit mongers out. (WTF?) Who voted this genius into office? I doubt this guy has never been in the park outside of an inspection - if he even did it himself - moron.
March 19, 2010, 1:34 pm

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