Wednesday, December 23, 2009

☞ SHOP: Harlem's Next Farmers Market

A reference that Harlem celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson has focused on in recent interviews is that of the local grown and farmer's market movement. There's a lot of seasonal vegetables, organic and local foods trending at the top restaurants of the country but Harlem is still a little behind this movement. Samuelsson also made a distinct point about poverty in the big city by stating "You can go to any market in Ethiopia regardless of income and you can get local eggs and organic. Here, if you don’t have money you eat poorly. It’s one of the only countries where low income and eating poorly is connected."

So Marcus Samuelsson is a celebrity and he probably could start up a major farmers market in Harlem but where would it be? The market at Union Square has been a point of reference for what a proper market should look like so we figured the spot had to be scenic and central. In our opinion, top contenders would be Morningside Parks, Marcus Garvey Park or the Harlem Meer.

For example, Morningside Park's West 110th Street and Manhattan Avenue corner which is centrally located between two major subway lines, has the beautiful landscape in the background and already has a small market during warmer seasons (top photo). If Samuesson promoted this area, surely more vendors would come by the underused location which will be a block away from the new FDB Circle. On the other hand, there is a huge, unsightly building lot on the east corner of Manhattan Avenue and the location is a bit far west. The second choice would be Marcus Garvey Park (second photo) with its majestic natural background, scenic brownstone streets and close access to the 2,3 express trains. The slight flaw is that the community building takes up a lot of the park and is not as historically accurate as the rest of the nabe. Finally, Central Park North's Harlem Meer with its charming victorian boathouse architecture (lower photos), vast natural scenery (which includes a lake) and central location by the 2,3 express train. This just might be the winner since it also is at a location where West and East Harlem start to transition. Suggestions anyone?


  1. Great idea, and I would love to see good, affordable produce offered locally. But the problem is that farmers' markets are all pretty expensive. The organic section at Fairway is still a lot cheaper than, say the farmers' market on Brodaway and 115th St. at Columbia.

  2. We didn't feature the Columbia market since it's really geared towards the more affluent West Side and not centrally located. A great farmers market would have all types of vendors at all price points with a good mix of local flavor.

  3. Morningside Park already has a Farmer's Market. I believe a top contenter should be a weekly farmers market at St. Nicholas Park's 135th Street Plaza. It is centrally located in Harlem, near a subway and has a beautiful backdrop of a park.

    What would the Friends of St. Nicholas Park need to do in order to help our park score this great opportunity?

  4. Uly -- note that the Morningside location is at W 110th St, not 100th.

    And I agree that the Central Park Meer would be an interesting choice that could bring together people from Central Harlem, East Harlem, the UWS (via 2,3 train) and UES (by proximity).