Yesterday afternoon I went in search of a farmer’s market. There’s on on Fridays near the house, but when I went by last week it consisted of a table of apologetic vegetables, a stand with homemade jams and jellies, and a baker. I suspect that might change in the summer, when there’s more fresh produce coming in, but it wasn’t a very inspiring trip. I decided, therefore, to go big rather than local, and came across the Dag Hammarskjöld Greenmarket.
As I walked toward 47th, I was certain I had written down the address wrong. I walked along 2nd Ave, past the bodegas and the sandwich shops, the pharmacies and the bars, wondering where a farmer’s market was going to fit in. Then I turned onto 47th and saw it, a green gem in the heart of the city.
The market is held in a strip of park that stretches between 1st & 2nd Avenues. Along the south side of the street are trees and fountains. The stalls are on the north, some under tents, some simply tables laden with produce.
The vegetables were bright and fresh, piled in neat mounds. Small signs made from pieces of cardboard boxes and propped up by the weight of the food announced prices. The vendors, in most cases indistinguishable from the buyers, stood in the middle of the stalls exchanging news and gossip for the week with the neighbors. The burble of water from the fountains and the soft murmuring of the shoppers almost combined to drown out the city.
All the usual suspects were present: carrots, parsley, basil, apples, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, eggplant, green onion, lettuce. There was also a stall with homemade ice-cream (packing up; he’d sold out for the day); a baker with ruggelach and fresh bread, even a fish guy. There were also those vegetables that I’ve always associated with fall in New England: bright, multicolored ears of Indian corn and speckled, misshapen winter gourds.
It’s not California. But it is, for a small space in the day, a chance to breath in that sweet, heavy scent of fresh food, to take a bite of an apple underneath a tree and feel the tart, sticky juice run through my fingers.