If you’ve heard about any of the farmers markets (or as they’re called here, greenmarkets) in New York, it’s probably Union Square Greenmarket. And for good reason — the massive gathering of farmers and purveyors, which takes place every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, makes for some of the best farm-fresh shopping you’ll find anywhere.
But what about the others? New York has a number of excellent greenmarkets in all five boroughs, and with fewer crowds than Union Square — meaning you might get a bit more time chatting with the folks who sell those apples or made that cheese. Now that the markets are in the full swing of summer, here are four to look out for.
Grand Army Plaza: At the northwest entrance to Prospect Park, with a view onto the majestic Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch, the Grand Army Greenmarket is the second-biggest in the city, drawing shoppers from all over Brooklyn. Many of the best vendors from Union Square come out to Brooklyn on the weekends, while others are Grand Army-specific. Keep an eye out for Evolutionary Organics (and its often unusual varieties of everyday produce, like squashes or peppers), Blue Moon Fish (with all manner of locally caught sea creatures), and Lynnhaven Farm (with delicious goat cheeses and yogurts). For an unbeatable summer lunch, grab a loaf of bread, a round of cheese and a bag of fruit –then take your pick of picnic spots in the park. Prospect Park West and Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn; open Saturdays year-round, 8am – 4pm; grownyc.org/greenmarket-site/brooklyn/grand-army-greenmarket
Greenpoint/McCarren Park: At the intersection of Brooklyn‘s Greenpoint and Williamsburg neighborhoods, this market sees its share of locavore hipsters stocking up on cage-free eggs or hard apple cider. You’ll find bigger names here — such as Ronnybrook Farm (milk as well as yogurt, butter and ice cream) and Red Jacket Orchards (apples, berries and stone fruit, as well as its specialty juices). But smaller operations make the cut as well, such as Wood Homestead out of upstate New York selling maple and sorghum syrup. Union Ave. btwn. Driggs and N. 12th St., Brooklyn; open Saturdays year-round, 8am – 3pm; grownyc.org/greenmarket-site/brooklyn/greenpoint-greenmarket
Jackson Heights: Queens, and Jackson Heights in particular, is a place of diversity, with immigrants from all corners of the globe coming together — as is reflected in the culinary landscape, where you’ll find empanada shops and South Asian grocery stores in the same neighborhood. You’ll see that diversity in the crowd at this greenmarket, the largest in Queens, at Travers Park. There’s a huge selection of produce and local farm goods, as well as stands with an international bent, such as Hot Bread Kitchen, producing breads, tortillas and more from all over the globe. 34th Ave. and 78th St., Queens; open Sundays year-round, 8am – 3pm (winter hours 8am – 2pm); grownyc.org/greenmarket-site/queens/jackson-heights-greenmarket
Saint George: Staten Islanders have an excellent greenmarket of their own at Saint George, with views back onto Manhattan and the harbor. (And a luxury most New Yorkers could only dream of: plenty of parking space.) In addition to services such as cooking demonstrations or composting stands, there’s an impressive lineup of farmers. Stop by Rabbit’s Run Farm for all manner of seasonal vegetables, orchard fruits from Troncillito Farm, or wild-caught fish from American Seafood. St. Marks St. and Hyatt St., Staten Island; open Saturdays 8am – 2pm, May 4, 2013 through November 23, 2013; grownyc.org/greenmarket-site/staten-island/saint-george-greenmarket