Park Slope Indoor Farmers Market, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011

market buys on the Brooklyn Bridge
a pear and apples from the market photographed on the Brooklyn Bridge

Park Slope Indoor Farmers Market

On a brisk but sunny winter day, I ventured over to this year-old farmers market on the outskirts of the Park Slope section of Brooklyn to see what was available this time of year, after an unusually snowy winter in this part of the country. Inside the toasty confines of the vacant, industrial warehouse that houses the market, there were two farmers selling greenhouse-grown winter greens, as well as root crops, squash, apples and pears from storage cellars. About half a dozen other vendors were selling an array of other locally crafted food items including bread, cheese, locally caught fish and “handmade virgin chocolate,” from raw cacao beans.

This market is one of about 20 farmers markets in the New York City area sponsored by Community Markets, a consulting company that got its start in 1991 as a 15-family food co-op in Ossining, a town on the Hudson River north of New York City.
Park Slope Indoor Farmers Market, interiorThe majority of the markets are located in suburban Westchester and Rockland Counties, but a growing number of them are in the city itself, particularly in Queens and Brooklyn. The organization sponsors just one market in Manhattan, turf that is fully occupied by the larger and older GrowNYC organization, sponsor of dozens of greenmarkets around the city.

Community Markets has a declared grower-only policy for vendors at its markets. “Only the actual growers or producers and their families or employees may sell at our markets,” the Community Markets web site states. “No middlemen, brokers or resellers, please. Everything available at a vendor’s stand must be local in origin and freshly picked or processed.”

– Mark Thompson

Old American Can Factory
232 Third Street, corner of Third Ave.
Gowanus/Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY / map
Sundays, 11:00 am. to 5:00 p.m.
(914) 923-4837

slide show

What I Bought

rutabagas and other root crops
butternut squash (from top left) rutabaga, beet, parsnip, sweet potatoes, black radish
Price: $1.50/lb for root crops
$.95/lb. for squash

Never had a rutabaga? Join the club. Vegan Yum-Yum muses about why the homely root is such an unloved, skipped-over vegetable. Since they keep so well in storage, they were one of the few crops available when the world wars wracked Europe, and thus, developed a reputation as a famine food, the very taste of which would forever after bring back bad memories. “This dislike was so strong that even people who have never been forced to live off of rutabagas revile them. Ask someone in the U.S. if they like rutabagas, and they will probably say no. Ask that same person if they’ve ever had one, and they’ll probably say no to that, too,” the blog observes.

In its paean to the rutabaga, Vegan Yum-Yum proceeds to offer a recipe for a soup that looks so rich and delectable that even a war refugee might be tempted to give the lowly root a second chance.

kale and brussel sprouts
kale and brussel sprouts
Price: $8/lb. for kale
$4/lb. for brussel sprouts

apples and a pear
(clockwise from bottom left) Mutsu, Cameo and Macoun apples,
and bosc pear

Price: $1.40/lb. for apples and pears

The “super-sweet, super-crunchy” Cameo apple, which was introduced in Washington state in 1998, is “America’s new favorite apple,” or so claims the Cameo Apple Marketing Association. The older Macoun variety, developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva and released in 1923, is considered “the finest eating apple in the world,” or so says the Wikipedia entry on that variety. The mutsu? I couldn’t find any Web site claiming that it is the best apple ever, but it has always been one of my favorites. For apple history buffs, the mutsu, also know as the crispin, was introduced in Japan in 1948 and is a cross between the Golden Delicious and Indo varieties. The bosc pear, by the way, is “the aristocrat of pears,” according to the Wikipedia entry for the fruit. It is the oldest fruit variety of this selection, dating to the early 1800s in Europe. It was first planted in the United States in the 1830s.